Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some FAQs are listed below. If your query is not answered here, please contact us.
List of FAQs (please click on a title to be directed to that section)

Eligibility

  • Can I apply to ICAT if I have already started a PhD?
  • Can dentists and vets apply to ICAT?
  • I am a fully qualified doctor and I am interested in doing a PhD, can I apply to ICAT?
  • How many years of training prior to CSCST should I have remaining?
  • Can I apply to ICAT to part-fund an existing research project?
  • Can I apply for ICAT when I am enrolled in basic specialist training (BST)?

Applications

  • How do applicants find a supervisor?
  • Should referees be people who have been involved in supervising prior research work, or can I choose a clinical referee?
  • Do most applicants hold a Master’s or intercalated degree?
  • One of my referees is unable to submit a reference by the deadline, can I have an extension?
  • What is the shortlisting process for ICAT?
  • What is the interview process for ICAT?

Structure

  • Can I apply to ICAT if I am training in a specialty that does not rotate through hospitals, such as Public Health Medicine?
  • Can I apply to ICAT from outside the UK or Ireland?
  • I note that applicants must be on a postgraduate training scheme in Northern Ireland or RoI. Can I apply if I am on a postgraduate scheme in another region of the UK?
  • I am currently a trainee in Northern Ireland. If I am successful in my application for a fellowship and pursue a PhD with a research group in the Republic of Ireland, how will this affect my clinical training?
  • What salary do ICAT fellows receive?
  • Do I have to do a lab-based PhD project?
  • What does ICAT fund?
  • For specialties that require dual training with general internal medicine (GIM) for CSCST, is it possible to do year one in a GIM post prior to starting the PhD?
  • I am currently in the 3rd year of my higher specialist training (HST) programme. If I apply for ICAT now, will my previous training be accredited?
  • As part of my training programme, I am expected to complete a clinical fellowship during my final year of training – can I do this fellowship abroad?
How many years of training prior to CSCST should I have remaining?
The ICAT Programme is designed as a six-year programme, with the first structured year normally accredited for training (with 70/30 clinical/academic split), 3 full-time PhD research years (some of which may be prospectively accredited for training) and two remaining years in higher specialist training (HST) prior to award of CSCST.

In exceptional circumstances and with full approval from your postgraduate clinical training body, ICAT can allow fellows to have only one year of HST remaining post-PhD. The reason the programme is specifically designed around a minimum of two years post-PhD clinical training is to enable appropriate preparations for onward career progression after award of CSCST/CCT, including submission / examination of thesis and preparation for postdoctoral awards / funding applications. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please contact the programme in advance for advice, and please also discuss your potential application with the Dean of your postgraduate clinical training body.
Can I apply to ICAT when I am enrolled in basic specialist training (BST)?
If you are in your final year of BST and are applying for higher specialist training (HST) you can apply to ICAT. If you are offered an ICAT fellowship, acceptance of the fellowship is conditional on you gaining a place on HST and on approval from your postgraduate clinical training body. We advise you to notify the HST scheme of your application to ICAT in advance.

back to top

One of my referees is unable to submit a reference by the deadline, can I have an extension?
Unfortunately we cannot offer extensions to the deadline for applications or references; this is in the interest of fairness to all candidates and to facilitate the stringent international peer review process for shortlisting applicants.

If one of your referees is unable to provide a reference by the specified date, please approach alternate referees. If you have any specific queries regarding your submission, please contact the programme directly.
What is the shortlisting process for ICAT?
All applications are sent for international review by a minimum of three independent peer reviewers and their scores will be combined. To avoid conflict of interest, applications will not be reviewed by listed potential supervisors or referees. All feedback from the peer reviewers and their scores will be reviewed by the Shortlisting panel to ensure fairness.

The combined application scores will be used to shortlist candidates for interview and all applicants will be given feedback on the application process.
What is the interview process for ICAT?
Shortlisted applicants are invited to interview in Dublin; interviews are generally held in early December. Applicants are invited to give a brief presentation (a title is sent to each candidate in advance of the interview) and then are interviewed by a panel. We strive for gender balance and diversity of research and clinical specialties amongst the panel members; we do not tailor the panels for each candidate.

The interview panels are composed of leading academics and clinicians in Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as international academics. In the interest of fairness, we do not divulge the names of the panel members to any candidates prior to the interviews. Feedback is provided to all interview candidates following the interviews.

ICAT funds exceptional individuals with a strong interest in pursuing a career as a clinical academic; it is not required that you interview with a fully-formed PhD project idea, but it is expected that you are able to discuss in depth your research interests and to explain why ICAT is the right programme for you.

back to top

Can I apply to ICAT if I am training in a specialty that does not rotate through hospitals, such as Public Health Medicine?
We hope that ICAT fellowships will be of interest to all postgraduate trainees including Public Health, General Practice and others that are not hospital-based. The ICAT Supervisors have been chosen by each of the academic partners to have a track record of PhD supervision and to be working in biomedical research institutions and centres of relevance to future clinician scientists.

While applicants need to select potential supervisors (and, if successful as ICAT Fellows, finalise their selection) from the current list, there are annual opportunities for others to join the ICAT supervisor pool, particularly if a research area is underrepresented.
Can I apply to ICAT from outside the UK or Ireland?
Yes, we welcome applications from clinical trainees internationally. Please be aware that you need to be eligible to enrol in a higher specialist training scheme in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, and that you must have been offered a place on a training scheme before you accept an offer of an ICAT fellowship.

It is also worth noting that ICAT offers funding for PhD registration fees at the local/EU rate, but any additional fees must be arranged independently; please contact us directly for advice in this regard.
I note that applicants must already be on a postgraduate training scheme in Northern Ireland or RoI. Can I apply if I am on a postgraduate scheme in another region of the UK?
The ICAT programme is open to applicants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. If you are registered with the GMC as a UK-based trainee, you would be eligible to apply. Year 1 is a combined clinical training and research preparation year and will count towards a CCT if recognized prospectively by the Specialty Advisory Committee of the clinical discipline you are training in.

If successful and you were awarded an ICAT fellowship it would be expected that you would relocate to a training post in either Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland. This is to allow the ICAT Fellow to enjoy all of the opportunities afforded during Year 1 and to develop a robust PhD proposal that is acceptable to the host institution (university) and academic supervisor. Years 2-4 are full-time research with the aim of completing a PhD, and fellows must be registered as PhD students with one of the six ICAT partner universities.

If considering relocation from the UK or further afield, we recommend that you notify us in advance of your application so that we can advise you.
I am currently a trainee in Northern Ireland. If I am successful in my application for a fellowship and pursue a PhD with a research group in the Republic of Ireland, how will this affect my clinical training?
Year 1 of the ICAT fellowship would count towards your UK CCT if the clinical training was based in NI (you can be appointed to one ICAT university for Year 1 and then switch to another for your PhD in Years 2-4). Years 2-4 would be your full-time PhD, i.e. out-of-programme research (OOPR). Any clinical training during your PhD would need to be prospectively recognised by the Specialist Advisory Committee (SAC) for your training scheme in the UK. Normally in the UK, only up to 3 months is recognised for clinical training during the total 3-year OOPR period for a PhD.

If you wished to have any clinical training in the Republic of Ireland recognised (during your PhD) this would require prior approval by NIMDTA, as the Northern Ireland Deanery, and should be discussed with your Dean of postgraduate clinical training.
Do I have to do a lab-based PhD project?
ICAT Fellows can develop research projects in any area of interest to them, these could include lab-based, data-based, involving clinical research or blue skies research

ICAT encourages novel, innovative and multi-sectorial approaches to research and Fellows can choose PhD supervisors from more than one of the ICAT universities as well as international collaborators who can add value to the research.
What does ICAT fund?
ICAT will fund salary costs for year 1; if you are successful in the defence of your PhD project proposal in year 1 then ICAT will fund a 3-year PhD. PhD costs include a salary, PhD registration fees (at local/EU rate), a contribution to research costs, for example laboratory consumables, and some funding towards travel, training and dissemination.

If a 4-year PhD is required for purposes of your clinical training, the funding for your salary and PhD registration fees for the final year must be sourced independently and approved prior to your appointment as an ICAT Fellow.
For specialties that require dual training with general internal medicine (GIM) for CSCST, is it possible to do year one in a GIM post prior to starting the PhD?
We are flexible in terms of training and it is the responsibility of the postgraduate clinical training body to agree with the format of training within the programme, in particular with respect to GIM versus specialty training accreditation.

The first year of the ICAT programme is 70% clinical and 30% academic, with a focus on protected time. Your trainers and higher specialist training (HST) committee need to be supportive of you achieving this goal and to sign off for high intensity GIM; however, the commitment to ICAT is quite intensive so the 30% academic commitment for year one will involve a significant time away from clinical duties.

ICAT is based on a principal of streamlined clinical and academic training with CSCST/CCT. With this in mind, the post-PhD training period of 1-2 years is considered an important period in academic training and this should be taken into consideration when applying for the programme.
I am currently in the 3rd year of my higher specialist training (HST) programme. If I apply for ICAT now, will my previous training be accredited?
You can apply for ICAT when enrolling in or enrolled on HST; the best time to apply to ICAT is dependent on the length of your training scheme and the stage you are at. For ICAT it is important that you have at least 1-2 years remaining in your specialty training post-PhD.

Year 1 of ICAT is generally fully accredited for clinical training and you can prospectively apply in the RoI for 1-year accreditation for the 3 years of your PhD; accreditation is at the discretion of your postgraduate clinical training body in the RoI.
As part of my training programme, I am expected to complete a clinical fellowship during my final year of training - can I do this fellowship abroad?
Your clinical training is organised by your postgraduate clinical training body, not by the ICAT programme. The structure of ICAT is such that the first year is 70% clinical and 30% academic, during which time you prepare your PhD proposal submission. Upon successful peer review, you enter your PhD years from years 2 to 4 inclusive. You then you re-enter your clinical training and a minimum of one year is required prior to completion of specialist training.

It is the decision of your training body where you carry out your clinical training in the final years of the programme. During the PhD research years, short periods abroad can be facilitated on the basis of collaborations between your supervisor and centres of excellence abroad, for research purposes only.

back to top