The majority of students in postgraduate study fund themselves. As well as tuition fees, students also have to consider their living costs. If you intend to do postgraduate study you need to think very carefully about what you hope to gain from your studies and how you intend to pay off any loan undertaken. Because of funding problems increasing numbers of courses are being offered on a part-time or distance learning basis. This enables students to fund their studies while working.

Sources of funding for postgraduate study:

Funding from research councils

Securing funding for postgraduate study is not easy. The situation varies depending on a range of factors including the nature of the study/course and the institution where you intend to study.

Most funding for academic courses stems from the seven Research Councils.

Research Councils UK
Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Applying for funding
It is best to check directly with the various funding bodies regarding types of awards on offer, eligibility criteria and application procedures. For most funding awards you apply direct to the relevant university department and not to the funding body. The department will then nominate suitable candidates for awards. Closing dates vary and it is important you allow sufficient time to ensure departmental and research council deadlines are met. 

Funding for vocational courses

The Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is the only course that attracts a mandatory award from a Local Education Authority. All other LEA awards are discretionary. Funding for such courses from other sources is limited. Examples of courses that may attract funding (for some students) include Librarianship, Social Work, Information Technology, Journalism and Museum Studies.

Whatever type of study you are considering it is advisable to consult the department running the course about funding. They will know if the course attracts funding from research councils or other government agencies and also have information about other possible sources of funding.

Portfolio and alternative funding

Many students use a range of funding sources to finance their way through postgraduate study.  The following list features some of the main sources:

  • Postgraduate Loans Guide (Masters)
    Information about the new postgraduate loans scheme, provided by
  • Masters Funding Guide 
    General funding information about Masters courses, provided by
  • PhD Funding Guide 
    General funding information about PhD courses, provided by
  • Institution awards
    Information on Keele awards. Check with individual institutions for information on their own particular funding awards.
  • scholarships
    Every year award £12,000 in scholarships for postgraduate study. The 2018 funding scheme will be opening for entries in May.
  • scholarships
    Every year award £12,000 in scholarships for postgraduate study. The 2018 funding scheme will be opening for entries in May.
  • Scholarship Search
    Database of funding opportunities from the academic, charity and commercial sectors.  Also relevant for undergraduate study.
  • Scholarships  
    The Association of Commonwealth Universities advertise both scholarships and courses for universities in the UK and overseas, particularly in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
  • Charities and trusts
    A large number of of organisations make awards although these are usually for small amounts.
  • DAAD
    The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offer funding opportunities for study and research in Germany.



 Updated on 6 April 2017