Scholarships and Student Funding

Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships

The University will offer 45 PhD scholarships for students starting their PhD research at the University in the 2020-2021 academic session.


In order to attract the best and brightest PhD students, the University seeks to offer not only unparalleled research facilities and superb supervision, but also to provide development opportunities which will support our research students as they progress beyond their PhD, through an innovative programme of integrated research, training, and career development.

This exciting scholarship scheme provides a valuable opportunity for postgraduate research students to undertake a package of training and development which will help them to develop the necessary skills required to meet their career choices and offer them a breadth of development opportunities in areas such as teaching, public engagement, entrepreneurship, data science, and research.

Scholars will usually focus on one career development area. These include:


University, and particularly undergraduate, teaching will be the area that many Career Development PhD scholars focus on. The level of teaching contribution will vary among the disciplines, commonly in the region of 180 hours per academic session. This will be combined with associated tasks such as marking or demonstrating, e-tutoring or group facilitation, perhaps with some lecturing or course development experience towards the end of the three years.

Public Engagement

Other scholars will concentrate on public engagement, disseminating and promoting research to audiences beyond the University. This might include giving public talks; seeking public input into research; or working with science centres or museums. Such activities will help to encourage a greater understanding about the issues and possibilities that develop from research.


Looking at new ways of encouraging innovative approaches to the utilization of research will be the focus for some scholars. This might include being introduced to such areas as intellectual property and patents, learning how to set up a business or spin-out company, as well as business and industrial placements.


Some scholars may contribute to other research-related activities beyond their specific PhD topic. Examples include systematic reviews or trials, data collection or analysis, journal editing, preparing briefings and materials for publication and presentation in our Schools, Colleges and Support Groups.

Data Science

The discovery of new knowledge through exploration of digital data has emerged as the fourth research paradigm and people with relevant skills are in huge demand from industry and the public sector. We seek scholars who can contribute to the preparation of data, and the development of tools and training materials for data science. This will typically involve scholars working with researchers outside of their own speciality, or with companies, enabling them to develop technical skills that will be of value in their own research and future careers.

Scholar Case Studies

You can read about the experiences of some of our current scholars and how the career development strands they have undertaken have enhanced their research and provided such excellent training opportunities.

Scholar Case Studies


Each scholarship covers the UK/EU rate of tuition fee as well as a stipend of £15,500. Subject to satisfactory progress, the scholarships are awarded for three years.


The awards are open to UK, EU and overseas students applying to start their first year of study for an on campus research degree in 2020-2021.

Please note, the Edinburgh College of Art, the School of Law and the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures are not participating in this scholarship scheme in the 2020-2021 academic session.

Applicants must have already applied for admission to a full-time on campus PhD research programme of study at the University. Applicants intending to study a part-time on campus PhD research programme will only be considered for the scholarship if they have the approval of the School they wish to study with.   We encourage applicants who wish to apply for this scholarship to make contact with their academic school regarding any admission deadlines.

Candidates are required to have good English Language skills with scholarship applicants normally requiring a minimum IELTS of 7.0 achieved within the past two years.  Please check the Entry Requirements for your proposed programme of study for details of other acceptable English language qualifications.  The requirement for an IELTS score of 7.0 (or equivalent) may be higher than the level required for admissions purposes.

You may apply for the scholarship prior to obtaining the necessary English language test results but the results should be uploaded as soon as possible.

Please also note that if you have applied for consecutive registration where you will start your Masters programme of study in 2020 and your PhD the following year in 2021, that you will not be eligible to apply for a Principal's Career Development Scholarship in 2020.  Principal's awards cannot be held concurrently with fully-funded scholarships but can be held with partial awards such as the Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships.


Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit and research potential. Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a UK first class or 2:1 honours degree at undergraduate level or the international equivalent.

Other factors such as financial status, nationality and the proposed field of study are not taken into account.

The University will not generally consider candidates who have already obtained a PhD, or formal equivalent, as a result of direct research training.


Applications for this scholarship are no longer being accepted for 2020-2021 as the 3rd of February deadline has now passed.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Selection Procedure

The University will use the information you provide on your scholarship application form together with the information contained in the supporting documentation (reference and academic transcript) which you submitted as part of your application for admission to administer and assess your scholarship application and to select successful applicants.

Shortlisted candidates should expect to be invited to attend an interview which will take place either in person or by telephone.

Notification of award

It is anticipated that applicants will be notified of the outcome by the end of April 2020. Applicants from the School of Geosciences will be notified by mid-May 2020. 

Further Information

Scholarships and Financial Support Team

Contact details

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships