Postgraduate Research Funding

This webpage has information about funding for prospective and current research students.

The application process needs to be started well in advance of the PhD start date. Some Research Councils and internal schemes require applications to be submitted around eight months before commencing the PhD.


UK Research Councils

AHRC Studentships

Annual Bursaries

Small Funds

Working to Support Yourself




Research Councils

The Research Councils are the main source of British government funding for postgraduate study in the UK. All offer funding for Masters and PhD level research.

Application processes vary between Research Councils. Generally speaking, funding in the Science and Engineering disciplines is allocated to University departments, who then advertise specific PhD scholarships. By contrast, in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines, individual students compete with each other for scholarships, which are allocated directly by the relevant Research Councils.

To check what the situation is in your discipline, visit the individual research council websites, and speak to your supervisor about how the process works.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council


Economic and Social 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)


AHRC Studentships for September 2013

The University of Salford, in conjunction with the University of Keele, holds an AHRC Block Grant Partnership award for period 2011 - 2013.  D
etails of AHRC studentships available for a September 2013 start will be posted in November 2012. 


Annual Bursaries

A number of other public and non-governmental organisations also hold annual bursary competitions. In some instances, the money is available for study anywhere; in others, you may be required to apply for study at a specific University or in a specific country.

The list below is by no means definitive: it includes only information about bursary competitions sent to the University by specific organisations and will be updated on a regular basis as and when we receive relevant information.

Fulbright Commission Postgraduate Student Awards

Each year between 12 and 16 awards are offered to UK citizens for the first year of postgraduate or doctoral study, or for 'special student research', in any subject at any accredited US institution. Successful candidates will work with the Fulbright Commission and the Institute of International Education (IIE) to identify and apply to the university departments which offer the best academic fit for them.

The closing date is the end of May.

Kennedy Memorial Trust

The Trust offers scholoarships for postgraduate study for one year at Harvard University or Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Applicants must be British citizens at the time of application, and resident in the UK. They should have recently graduated or spent at least two of the last five years studying at a UK university. The closing date for applications is in late October.

British Federation of Women Graduates 

BFWG gives awards annually to women in their third and final year of doctoral studies. The awards are given on the basis of evidence of academic excellence and are NOT expected to provide for financial need. The do not cover fees. The amounts offered range upwards from £1000 with the average award being around £3000. Applicants need to be registered at a University in England, Scotland or Wales. the closing date is late March

See also Funds for Women Graduates for other small grants (run independently from BFWG scholarships).

Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust

The Trust offers annual grants (normally from £300 - £1000 in value) for postgraduate study in any subject area at any British university. Applicants must be graduates with a first or upper second class honours degree, who are over the age of 24 on 1st October of the proposed year of study.


Small Funds

Look out for small funds which can help support your research activities, for example by covering the costs for conference attendance or helping to fund research trips and field work. You supervisor may be able to advise you of specific organisations and charities in your discipline that offer small grants to researchers.

Educational Trusts and Charities

Educational Trusts and charities sometimes offer small amounts of money (usually up to £500) to eligible postgraduate students who have been unable to get funding elsewhere.

The following resources offer further information:

  • The Directory of Grant Making Trusts - published by The Directory of Social Change
  • The Grants Registerpublished by Palgrave Macmillan

Both publications are available in the University libraries.

  • The University Careers Advisory Service has access to Funderfinder, a computer programme that can help you locate educational trusts and other bodies. The Careers service is located on the lower ground floor of University House.
  • The University Funding Team can offer assistance to researchers looking for external funding. They run a series of training sessions targeted specifically at PhD students, through the SPoRT programme. These sessions provide advice on small grant awards as well as postdoctoral funding, and offer guidance on grant applications.


Working to Support Yourself

If you are a full-time postgraduate student and find yourself suffering financial hardship for any reason, one option may be to seek part-time paid employment. Before you decide to do so, it is important that you talk to your supervisor or personal tutor about what is realistic.

As far as the University Regulations are concerned, postgraduate students registered as full-time candidates may work up to 20 hours per week during term-time, subject to the approval of the Registrar. To gain this approval, students should contact their College Office. However, if you are in receipt of a studentship or bursary or any kind, including a Research Council award, you may be subject to additional restrictions, which you must check before seeking employment.

If you are an international student, there are certain restrictions on how many hours you can work while on a student visa. There are more details available from UKCISA and from the Tier 4 Policy Guidance if you have a Tier 4 student visa. For advice on visas and working in the UK, you can also contact Student Life:

Careers & Employability can help you to find part-time, weekend and vacation work.