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 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.
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 on MyCareerHub. Search for funding for postgraduate study.
This is not a comprehensive list of funding sources so please use this information in conjunction with other resources that are detailed on this page.
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.
Scholarships and Student Funding Service
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.
Edinburgh 4 Learning
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.
Student Awards Agency for Scotland
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.
Gov.uk - Funding for Postgraduate Study
Department for Employment and Learning - is responsible for higher and postgraduate education in Northern Ireland. The site includes links to information about postgraduate funding.
Department for Employment and Learning
Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) - information about the Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS), including the list of institutions that received funding from HEFCE.
Higher Education Funding Council England (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.
Association of Medical Research Charities
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.
Educational Grants Search
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.
The Leverhulme Trust
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.
Professional and Career Development Loans
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.
Prospects - Funding My Further Study
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.
The Royal Society
Royal Society of Edinburgh - grants funding and awards to recognise excellence and support leading research that benefits Scotland's cultural, economic and social wellbeing.
Royal Society of Edinburgh
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.
Target Postgrad: Postgraduate Funding
We have reference books in our information centres which offer further information and advice on finding funding.
Our books on funding for PG study
Masters scholarship winner 2015 (£5,000)
MA Fashion Design
University of the Arts London
“I cannot describe how amazing it feels to have been awarded such a fantastic scholarship. I was determined beyond belief to continue into postgraduate study and this has always been my biggest focus and motivation. Winning the FindAMasters scholarship has helped me immensely and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity. The award has confirmed to me that my passion and development can continue, and I now have the support I need to carry on realising my vision and forming the next step in my career.
I came across FindAMasters.com whilst trying to search for help and advice on postgraduate funding, so it is rather apt now nearly a year later, I can proudly say that FindAMasters.com not only helped me but is now being such a great support in my future. Aside from this, I found all of the information and guidance they offer extremely useful, this opened doorways for me to pursue further funding options and explore alternative methods in accessing advice.”
The judges were amazed with the level of time and effort that Kelly had put into making her bespoke garment and video. Kelly’s application highlighted her passion for fashion, eye for detail, and overall worthiness of our 2015 £5,000 scholarship.
View Kelly making her bespoke garment in her supporting video.
Masters runner up 2015 (£500)
MSc Biodiversity Conservation
“I’m absolutely chuffed and hugely grateful to have won a FindAMasters scholarship! There is massive financial pressure during a Masters and with my current workload I simply don’t have time for a job. I’m buzzing!
I used FindAMasters.com throughout the search process to compare fee costs and to find links to courses. It also gave me the opportunity to search similar courses abroad and consider that option.
I chose my university because of its location, which is beautiful and excellent for biodiversity, the professors, who are leaders in their field and the extensive links with other institutes and organisations. The course was absolutely ideal for what I want to achieve in my career and has excellent capacity for travel while researching as well as furthering my knowledge, improving my use of scientific techniques and providing superb opportunities for networking.”
The judging panel not only loved Mike’s song and vocal ability, but also the creative nature of his application. Mike pitched his need for funding in an upbeat and humorous way, even managing to get the judges singing along.
View Mike’s song here.
Masters runner up 2015 (£500)
MRes Sexuality and Gender
University of Birmingham
“It feels wonderful to have won a FindAMasters scholarship! I had great fun putting my entry together and I'm very happy (and surprised) that it paid off!
The search function on FindAMasters.com allowed me to find all the courses that covered my subject area and compare them with minimal effort on my part. As my degree isn’t offered everywhere it would have taken me hours to trawl through individual course catalogues.
The course I selected allows me to undertake lots of independent research as opposed to other more prescriptive courses, therefore I can focus specifically on what interests me. The University of Birmingham has a really progressive research faculty and I'm excited to be a part of it! I hope to go on to study for a PhD, my MRes is the all important first step!”
The judges thought Hannah’s super-video application was worthy of a scholarship as it covers powerful topics in a refreshing yet educational way. FindAMasters.com boy was happy to be of service in her time of need.
View Hannah’s video application here.
Highly commended 2015
Due to the record breaking volume of high standard applications, we decided to highly commend a handful of applications the judges considered to be of an excellent standard, and well worthy of recognition.
MSc Biodiversity, Conservation & Management
University of Oxford
“FindAMasters.com was virtually the only search-tool that I needed to find my MSc. With over 23,000 Masters courses advertised on their website, it seems that there’s nothing that slips by them. I always had a solid idea that I wanted to study Biodiversity Conservation, but I just couldn’t find the right university. After laboriously trailing through each university website, I soon realized that FindAMasters.com had everything that I needed, such as user-friendly search-engines and brilliant funding advice. It was the ultimate starting place to begin my quest.
As someone who is endlessly passionate about environmental and humanitarian affairs, I knew I had to study biodiversity conservation. But where? This was the real question. Eventually, thanks to FindAMasters, I discovered that the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management at the University of Oxford was the perfect destination. The professors are academics whom I’ve frequently read about in science journals, the course is excitingly diverse and cutting-edge, and Oxford itself is a beautiful and quaint little town with all sorts of surprises.”
View Marcus’ video application here.
Masters in Audiovisual Translation Studies
University of Leeds
“FindAMasters.com helped me to find open days for hundreds of universities that I wouldn't have known about otherwise and showed me which universities offered the kind of courses I wanted to do.
I chose Leeds because I loved the campus when I visited, everyone was so friendly, it was a wonderful atmosphere. I chose my course because it is one of the only ones of its kind in the country and it is extremely practical, offering a huge amount of experience in the field throughout the course and continuous support to help with personal and professional development
I plan to become a professional subtitler, without postgraduate study, many companies would not even consider my application, and with this MA in particular I can show that I am experienced, which makes it much more likely that I'll find a job in my chosen career.”
View Catherine’s video application here.
MSc Research Methods in Psychology
University of Bristol
“FindAMasters.com helped me to research which Psychology MSc programmes were available at different institutions.
I chose to do an MSc in Research Methods because this is the core aspect of Psychology and it will prepare me for a career in Psychology research. I chose to study at Bristol University because it is a research-intensive University and the School of Experimental Psychology has many interesting research groups. Bristol is also a great city to live in.
I hope to go on to a PhD in the future. The psychological knowledge and research skills gained during this course will help prepare me for this.”
View a picture of Maddy's application below:
MSc Applied Psychology of Intellectual Disabilities
University of Portsmouth
“FindAMasters.com showed me the courses that linked to my interest in people with intellectual disabilities. Before searching the FindAMasters.com database I didn’t know that the course at Portsmouth existed.
I chose the course Applied Psychology of Intellectual Disabilities because my passion is to have a long career in this area of work. I wanted to further my academic knowledge to add to the personal experiences I have had working with people with intellectual disabilities. I also really liked that my lecturer would be someone who has such a presence in the academic world of intellectual disability research.”
View Poppy’s video application here.
MSc Conservation Genetics
Manchester Metropolitan University
“When I was trying to decide whether postgraduate study was the right choice for me, I used FindAMasters.com to do my initial research. It helped me to narrow down my interests and introduced me to conservation genetics, a branch of conservation biology I didn’t even realise I was passionate about until I read the course descriptions.
I chose this course initially because it was one of only a handful of courses with a specific genetics element, and now that I have started my studies I have learned that the staff are very welcoming and incredibly passionate about their areas of research, they also have great connections outside of the university.”
View a picture of Lauren's application below:
MSc Mental Health Studies
Kings College London
“FindAMasters.com is a large search engine which helped me to find Masters courses relating to my interests, and it helped me to choose my postgraduate course and university. I chose my course as I am interested in mental health, and Kings College because it has a great reputation. In the future I would potentially like to go do a clinical doctorate so this Masters in mental health will be very useful.”
View Amy’s video application here.