Sources of funding
Tips on financing your postgraduate course.
If you need to secure funding for a postgraduate course there are a number of options. Very little funding is guaranteed and most postgraduate students need to consider applying to a wide variety of sources to make up the funding required to complete their course or research.
The first thing to do when looking for funding is to contact the director for the course of study you want to pursue. They will be able to advise you about any funding that is specifically attached to that course and provide you with details of application procedures and deadlines. They may also know of other bodies where students have obtained funding in the past. There also may be more general sources of funding within the School itself (ie not specifically attached to a named course but available to anyone who will study in the School) so its worth investigating that with the School PG Office/Graduate School.
Funding bodies have different methods of allocating awards. In some cases awards are allocated directly to schools or colleges who then nominate suitable candidates. In other cases, students have to apply directly to the funding body.
As funding is in short supply many postgraduate courses are offered on a part-time basis, allowing for the fact that the only way for an increasing number of graduates to finance further study is to have a job.
Typical sources of funding include:
- research council funding
- university scholarships and bursaries
- salaried research assistantships from university departments
- grants or loans from trusts and charities
- local enterprise initiatives
- company sponsorship
- professional and career development loans.
- government loans
- EU Scholarships
You can find brief details of funding opportunities notified to the Careers Service in the Resources section on MyCareerHub. This is not a comprehensive list of funding sources.
University of Edinburgh Scholarships and Student Funding Service - information on scholarships and other sources of funding for both prospective and current students at all levels in the University and beyond. This includes funding for travel and hardship as well as a database which is searchable by subject.
Edinburgh 4 Learning - An online portal for current students, undergraduate and postgraduate, providing details of funding opportunities available to support you through your studies. You must register with your university email address to access this database.
University of Edinburgh - Edinburgh Innovations - the Innovation Management Office works to commercialise research. Find out about sponsored research opportunities, including collaborative research and industrial studentships.
Research Professional - a vast, up-to-date database of research-based funding opportunities, including doctoral and postdoctoral awards, travel and conference grants, prizes, and hardship grants, and news about research policy. Staff and students of the University may register free of charge (email address must end @ed.ac.uk) to access the databases, receive daily email updates and alerts, and save interesting items and searches.
Postgraduate student loans - these government loans have now been introduced in all parts of the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for courses up to Masters level. Each country has its own system, and there are some significant differences in the level of courses funded, as well as the repayment systems. PhD loans will be introduced in England from 2018. As well as the information on the government websites listed below, you'll find an excellent overview of the current systems and future plans under discussion, and can register to receive updates on any changes, on FindAMasters and FindAPhD.
Student Awards Agency for Scotland - the funding agency for first degree study for Scottish domiciled students, PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) funding, and the student loan awards for taught postgraduate courses.
Gov.uk - provides information about postgraduate courses eligible for government funding or loans in England and Wales, and links to other sources of postgraduate funding.
Department for Employment and Learning - is responsible for higher and postgraduate education in Northern Ireland. The site includes links to information about postgraduate funding.
Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) - information about the Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS), including the list of institutions that received funding from HEFCE.
Newton Fund - this PhD programme is part of the UK’s official development assistance. £75 million will be available each year from 2014 until 2021. Its aim is to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries, and to facilitate the capacity building of individuals, and the building of sustainable, long-lasting links between UK and overseas institutions, through PhD scholarships, placements, and partnerships.
Core delivery partners include Research Councils UK and the British Council.
Research Councils - joint website with links to the individual Research Councils' sites.
EU Scholarships - opportunities for Masters and Doctoral study, as well as short-term experiences, funded through programmes such as Erasmus Plus and Erasmus Mundus.
Association of Medical Research Charities - can provide help with funding in medical research fields.
Educational Grants Search - Family Action's Educational Grants Search matches you to charitable funding for education or training from your answers to online questions based on your circumstances and needs.
Euraxess UK - part of an initiative to increase the mobility of researchers, students, scientists and academic staff, you can search for UK and international funding. Funded studentships and fellowships in the UK and overseas are also advertised.
FindAMasters.com - is a website for students looking for a postgraduate Masters qualification in the UK and Ireland. The database lists many Masters courses in a variety of disciplines, including funded opportunities. Has clear, detailed information about the Masters government loans for English students introduced in the academic year 2016-17. The site also has its own annual Postgraduate scholarships competition. To increase access, it has now launched a mobile site (m.FindAMasters.com).
FindAPhD.com - a guide to current research and PhD studentships, including funded opportunities. The database contains details of research topics from many major universities and institutions throughout Europe. Has clear, detailed information about the PhD government loans for English students to be introduced for courses starting in the the academic year 2018-19.
The Leverhulme Trust - makes awards for 'the support of research and education'. The awards fall into three main categories: specific research projects, research or study undertaken by individuals holding fellowships, studentships or bursaries, and those for recognition of individual research achievement, by way of prizes.
MastersCompare - search and compare masters courses, find funded courses, and get the latest news about funding opportunities.
Money4MedStudents - information and advice about sources of funding for medical students, covering grants, bursaries and awards, charitable trusts, with a section specifically on studying medicine as a second degree.
Postgrad.com covers all aspects of postgraduate study, including advice about funding.
Postgraduate Funding - this guide was compiled by the National Postgraduate Committee, a charity established to advance postgraduate education in the UK.
Postgraduatestudentships.co.uk - a commercial website (free registration) with collated information on different sources of research and taught postgraduate student funding.
Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL) - Many courses qualify for a government supported PCDL . A number of banks are involved in the scheme, and the loans are granted at the discretion of the individual banks.
Remember that you have to consider tuition fees as well as your living costs. If you decide to take out a loan to cover all or part of your postgraduate education, think very carefully about what you hope to gain from your studies and how you intend to pay off your debt.
Prospects: Funding My Further Study - this section of the graduate careers website provides information and links to all the major funding bodies, universities, charities etc., and includes a vidcast presentation covering the main schemes available for postgraduate study in the UK.
The Royal Society offers grants and fellowships for blue skies research, as well as to establish collaborative links with other areas of science and industry, both in the UK and abroad.
Royal Society of Edinburgh - grants funding and awards to recognise excellence and support leading research that benefits Scotland's cultural, economic and social wellbeing.
Scholarship Portal - an integrated, centralized European platform providing information on all scholarships offered for studying in Europe. The database employs comprehensive search criteria and students can also compare relevant programmes.
Scholarship Search - lists awards from HE, FE and charitable institutions. Search by subject or organisation. Also find advice and latest funding news.
Student Money - a site to help you plan and organise your student finances. Deals with issues such as searching for funding, planning your budget, repaying loans and predicting wages. The site includes a searchable database of postgraduate and undergraduate funding opportunities.
Target Postgrad: Postgraduate Funding - a comprehensive, searchable database of funding opportunities in the UK.
We have reference books in our information centres which offer further information and advice on finding funding.