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What you should look for when searching for postgraduate funding from universities

Thursday 16 May 2019 Funding

There is less funding out there for Masters students than for PhDs, but if you are considering a Masters don’t give up, there is funding out there! PostgraduateStudentships offers some tips on university-funded postgraduate study.

Funding for Masters

Generally, universities make funding available for Masters courses as:

  • Discounts for alumni of the University – usually around 10%. This can be linked to achieving a required level for your undergraduate degree, often a 1st class degree or a 2:1
  • Bursaries or scholarships offered by Alumni of the university that are open to all to apply for, or for students from a particular country.
  • Particular scholarships or bursaries attached to individual courses – this is often buried in departmental websites and not widely publicised.
  • Scholarships or bursaries made available at faculty, school or university level for Masters students. Look out for these in particular around the time of open days in the spring and summer.

Funding for PhDs

There is more funding for UK (and in some cases EU) PhD students because there is specific government funding for PhDs channelled from Research Councils directly to the universities, as well as the funds that universities sometimes are able to make available to students from their general funds.

Funding for PhDs is usually announced in the form of advertisements online from October onwards, PostgraduateStudentships.co.uk for example, as well as on the universities’ own websites.

Timing and deadlines

Universities with large amounts of PhD funding may announce it as early as October. The largest announcements usually take place between November and February each year. There is then sometimes another smaller set of announcements around May or June.

Deadlines can be very different from university to university, or even within the same university, so always check each advert's individual deadline.

Studentships listed by subject area

In the sciences, computing and engineering this can mean funding for very specific named projects, usually attached to a bigger research project that a research group or a single academic is doing. In the arts and social sciences there is sometimes for flexibility for creating or influencing the research project.

Studentships listed as ‘University Studentships’ or similar

This usually means that there is a specific number of studentships but that they can be in any subject area offered by the University, or a specific list of subject areas. Check to see if it includes your subject area even if these are not mentioned.

High quality PhD programmes

Studentships advertised as being from a Doctoral Training Centre, or Industrial Doctorate Centre are very prestigious and show the university’s excellence in that area, as well as their commitment to their PhD students. These are often 4-year studentships and students receive additional career related training and a particularly high quality PhD programme.

If you are an international student, some universities will also make funding available to you, sometimes with funding available to students from specific countries. Some may allow you to apply for the general postgraduate funding that is available and pay the difference between the Home and International student fees. Although not full funding, this can still save you a substantial amount of money.

You can find funding available for 2016 at the PostgraduateStudentships PhD Funding Fair in December 2015. Details to be posted later in the year, but in the meantime you can find out what happens at the Fair and see what students who attended last year thought.