Scholarships and Student Funding

Economic and Social Research Council

The University of Edinburgh is part of a consortium of Universities in Scotland which have been awarded funding from the Economics & Social Research Council (ESRC) to support postgraduate studentships and training in the Social Sciences in Scotland.

The Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) hosts this Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and considers applications for doctoral studentship awards. Further details can be found at Scottish Graduate School of Social Science

ESRC PhD Studentships 2024/25


There are two types of PhD studentship available from the SGSSS – Supervisor led projects and Student led projects in the Open competition.

In the Supervisor led competition, students are recruited to a defined PhD project and the SGSSS will advertise all available Supervisor led PhD projects from early March 2024.

In the Open Competition, a PhD applicant proposes a project which can be supervised by the University of Edinburgh.  To be considered for this funding, you will first need to secure an offer to study a University of Edinburgh PhD in 2024/25, no later than January 11th 2024. You must also secure an SGSSS funding nomination from the University. Full details of the application process are listed below.

Online Information Session – 17th October 2023 10am BST The Dean of Postgraduate Research is hosting a 1 hour online information session about the SGSSS Open PhD competition for prospective applicants. Please join this link for the start time of 10am.

The SGSSS Studentship

Each award will cover the PhD tuition fee and a stipend at the UKRI level for 3.5 years.

Where applicants do not already meet the minimum MSc ESRC training requirements you may be asked to undertake before the PhD, a week-long foundational methods course or an ESRC approved Master’s programme or elements of an ESRC approved Master's programme covering identified core methods gaps. You can indicate on the SGSSS funding application form the type of training that you expect to receive but each applicant is assessed by SGSSS to determine the most appropriate length of award based on previous study and experience.

From 2024 the SGSSS training pathways will be organised around a set of key societal challenges. These challenges were developed so that they represent the kinds of social science research that our students do and to reflect the themes of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Full guidance about this is available in the SGSSS Open Competition student guidance.                                                          


  • Candidates must meet University of Edinburgh PhD entry requirements and all ESRC eligibility requirements. 


  • Candidates will normally hold a relevant First Class Honours degree (such as BA, BMus, BSc, or LLB) and preferably a similar calibre of Masters degree but the SGSSS do consider a ‘whole person approach’ when considering applicants for funding. 


  • PhD students who are currently in their first year of study and within eligible subject areas are welcome to apply.  However, current PhD students who already hold University PhD funding at UKRI stipend rates are not eligible for the SGSSS PhD funding. Also, current PhD students who hold other PhD funding equivalent to the ESRC award are not eligible to apply for this funding.


  • Awards are available to Home fee applicants and limited awards are available for International applicants. The University is able to nominate up to two International applicants per subject Pathway. Please check the full UKRI eligibility criteria here


  • To qualify for Home status an applicant must:

    • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
    • Have settled status, or
    • Have pre-settled status AND meet residency requirement (3 years residency in the UK/EEA /Gibraltar/Switzerland immediately before the start of their programme) or
    • Have indefinite leave to enter or remain


As part of the funding application, the SGSSS are interested in each applicant as a ‘whole person’. Rather than solely looking at your academic achievements (for example, it is not necessary to have a first-class degree to be assessed as an excellent PhD student and to receive funding), they will consider what each applicant can bring to a PhD through work and life experiences too (including challenges and resilience). 

The SGSSS want applicants to be able to demonstrate and articulate potential to undertake and complete a PhD, to flourish as a result of PhD funding and to be a proactive contributor to a positive research culture. The SGSSS application form will ask you to tell them about your preparedness to undertake and complete a PhD and to flourish as a result of PhD funding and how you will contribute to a positive and diverse PhD community.


Applications for this funding is now closed for 2024 entry.

Step 1 – Contact and seek advice from the relevant Unit of Assessment Lead and the University and potential PhD supervisor at the University. Unit of Assessment contact details are listed within the School webpages below. You must register on the SGSSS Apply system and please read the SGSSS guidance to students. We also recommend that you view all of the helpful applicant information videos on the SGSSS website here.

Step 2 - Apply for admission to a relevant PhD programme at the University of Edinburgh no later than 23rd November 2023. Please note that some Schools/Deaneries may advertise a later PhD admission deadline generally on the University degree finder, however for this funding, you MUST apply for admission before Nov 23rd 2023. Please also note that if the School PhD application deadline is earlier than Nov 23rd 2023, you must meet their earlier admission deadline. Full admissions requirements and application deadlines can be found on the relevant School webpage below. You will need to secure at least a conditional offer for a PhD place before Jan 11th 2024 to be considered for this funding.

For applicants who do not hold an MSc and are looking for 1+3 funding, you must apply for a University of Edinburgh ESRC approved MSc by the School admission deadline for this funding, listed in the websites below. You must also secure confirmation by Jan 11th 2024 that your PhD can be supervised by the School in 2025/26. If you are a first year PhD student at the University, please see Step 3.

Step 3 - Before 5pm 1st December 2023 prepare and submit the SGSSS Open Competition application form, academic transcripts and CV to the SGSSS Apply system.  Please note these transcripts and CV must be made anonymous before uploading them to the SGSSS.

Step 4 – By the middle of February, we will notify applicants whether they have been nominated by the University to the next stages of the SGSSS funding competition. University nominated applicants will then be asked to submit a final funding application to the SGSSS before 22nd February 2024 to proceed to the next stage of the competition. 

Applications will then be considered by the SGSSS Challenge Led Pathway Review Stage. The SGSSS will then announce the final award decisions in May.

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