Postgraduate Study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary Futures Await

All of your PhD funding options explained

“I want to do a PhD but I’m worried I can't afford it.” If this sounds like you then you're in the right place. Read our post to find out more about PhD funding at the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine.

“I want to do a PhD but I’m worried I won’t have enough money to live on.” If this sounds like you then never fear - you’re in the right place! In the blog post below, we’ll be looking at all of the funding options open to you as a PhD student in medicine and life sciences, as well as highlighting the living costs that you’ll have to think about during your time at university. We’ve even got some amazing examples of how our PhD students have managed to travel the world while studying – all with a simple bit of planning.

Many people are put off the idea of doing a PhD because they think that PhD students never have any money. In the post below, we show that this simply isn’t the case – you can study for a postgraduate degree without constantly worrying about how you’re going to pay the rent.

man and woman working in lab

This blog post explores:

  • Our funding options for PhD students studying medicine, vet medicine and life sciences
  • The living costs that you’ll have to think about as an on-campus research student
  • Travelling on a budget


Your options for PhD funding explained

Funded PhD programmes

Here at the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, we have a wide range of funded PhD programmes for outstanding students. These studentships are offered in collaboration with our world-class research centres, and subject areas include everything from Precision Medicine to Cardiovascular Science.

Applying for one of our PhD studentships is probably the most straightforward route into a funded PhD programme at the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine. However, applications are highly competitive.

What’s on offer?

Our studentships offer eligible candidates a stipend, tuition fees (at the UK/EU rate) and a contribution towards any research costs.

PhD Studentships



Funded PhD projects - FindAPhD

Another option for students thinking about postgraduate research is to browse our wide range of pre-defined PhD projects. The College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine advertises available PhD projects on You can also browse them using the link below.

FindAPhD Research Projects

What’s on offer?

Various stipends and research costs are available depending on the project. These are significant amounts of money which will allow you to devote all of your time to research, rather than worrying about funding.  

You’ll notice that each research project will either be ‘directly funded’, ‘competition funded’ or will have ‘funding available’. All this means is that there may be certain requirements which apply to each project depending on the type of funding stipulated.

For example, there may be restrictions relating to residency or nationality depending on the type of funding body involved.  

students walking through lab

Self-funding a PhD

Some postgraduate students are fortunate enough to self-fund their studies over three years without having to work at the same time. They may be using their own savings or receiving financial aid from parents or another relative.

Students in this position are welcome to apply with a research proposal at any time of year. However, if you are applying for an advertised PhD project, make sure that you submit your proposal before the specified deadline.

For more information on self-funded postgraduate research, including where to check entry requirements, visit the link below.

PhD Applicants with External Sponsorship or Self Funding


Working while studying for a PhD

Some of our students work around their studies to bring in a bit of extra cash. Obviously this is a lot easier to do if you decide to study for a PhD part-time over six years rather than the usual three years full-time.

However, some of our full-time students are also able to earn money by occasionally working on weekends or evenings.

Finding a part-time job while studying full-time is certainly not for everyone, and you should think long and hard about whether you will be able to succeed in your postgraduate research while devoting any spare time to working. However, if you have strong time management skills and you can find flexible work in your area of study, then this may be a great way to keep some of your industry skills up to scratch.

Jenni Irving McGrath is a full-time PhD student at the University’s Feline Genome Project:

I continue to work as a locum vet in practices around Edinburgh every second weekend. The balance has worked well and I believe it benefits my PhD as it keeps my phenotyping skills up to date. Working in clinics also keeps me focused on my end goal of bringing my research results from the lab bench into the clinics.

Jenni Irving McGrathPhD Genetics and Genomics

Keep in mind that there may also be the opportunity to work as a tutor during your PhD too:

“I’ve learned how to conduct highly-interdisciplinary research, and to work with participants. I’ve also learned how to use R, and other open science practices. I also got the opportunity to work as a tutor alongside my research, which improved my teaching skills.” 

Bérengère DigardPhD Psychiatry


Additional Funding Opportunities

At the University of Edinburgh, we welcome students from a variety of different backgrounds and funding options are available to those people who wish to apply but have very specific needs in place.

For example, if you are a single parent, have a disability or find yourself facing unexpected financial difficulties, the University offers additional funding opportunities on top of the main postgraduate loans and bursaries.

Additional financial assistance


Living costs for PhD students

When you’re a PhD student there are plenty of living costs to consider. You’ll have to think about accommodation, electricity bills, travel and a lot more.

However, the University has put together a handy guide for the upcoming 2019-20 year, which gives an excellent idea of how much it generally costs to live as a postgraduate student in Edinburgh.  

Estimated living costs 2019-20


Travelling near and far on a budget

And finally…we’ve got some great examples of past and current students who have shown that it’s possible to enjoy postgrad life to the max while studying for a PhD. Some of our PhD students are keen travellers and have managed to save up their money and spend it on what they enjoy doing most.

As we all know, mental health issues and stress are very prevalent among Ph.D. students. However, we are also privileged to have a more flexible schedule. We should also appreciate and take advantage of the fact that there are many cheap flights from Edinburgh to many European countries, whereas in my home country Canada, a 5 hr coach bus ticket to the next province costs at least £100. Of course, you need to first consult your supervisor, but it shouldn’t be a massive problem if you’re only away for a Friday or a Monday once in a while. There are also ways to travel without breaking the bank.

Amy CuiPhD Population Health Sciences

Amy’s South American adventure post in full

Plus you don’t have to travel outside of Scotland to enjoy beautiful scenery and experience a different vibe to city life.  

With a little bit more free time on your hands, you might be able to rent a car and venture up to the highlands. For a friend’s birthday, we did a little retreat tour of the Highlands & the Isle of Skye. The drive through nature there was spectacular – and it was on the way there where everything started to get very remote, and the roads turned into tiny single lane streets. 

Chiara HerzogPhD Neuroscience

It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of our PhD students come from overseas. Although they might not be flying home to Canada or Australia every other month, many of our students are still able to cover the costs of a long haul flight to see family and friends by dipping in to their PhD funding.

Remember too that you’ll more than likely have the opportunity to travel to academic conferences during your studies, many of which provide funding for eager students.

You can read more about student life - including tips on how to save money - by visiting the University’s ‘Student Stories’ website below.

Student Stories


Related Links

Steps to Postgraduate Study – impartial advice on Postgraduate study options

University of Edinburgh Finance Homepage

Alternative Careers in Medicine - Where can your PhD take you?