Identifying possible funding
The introduction of government loans for postgraduate study has meant it is now much more straightforward to fund yourself through your continuing education. However, you will still need to pay this back (potentially at the same time as your undergraduate student loan) so it's worth exploring the other available options such as grants, bursaries and employer funding which can help with your costs.
Below is a brief overview of your funding options with some useful links, and there is also lots of detail in Prospects' comprehensive Postgraduate Funding information.
Government loans for master's students are available across the UK from 2017. These vary slightly by country, and you should apply to your home country (rather than the country where you are studying) for funding. EU nationals are also generally eligible for these loans. See below for more details:
- Postgraduate loans information on GOV.UK.
- Useful funding guide by country from Find A Masters.
- FAQs via The Student Room.
- More details on the University of Bradford website and the Find A Masters site.
Professional and Career Development Loans are available from a selection of UK banks for vocational courses. These are bank loans and they have to be paid back, and have a higher rate of interest than the Postgraduate Loan, so make sure you research these carefully. The direct.gov website has further information.
Research Council grants
The majority of funding for research comes from research councils, each specialising in a particular field. Each of the research councils has slightly different arrangements for studentships. To find out further details click on the research council's website click on the relevant link below:
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Biotechnology and Biology Research Council (BBSRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC)
- The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Science and Technology Facilities Council
Alternatively, for general information visit www.rcuk.ac.uk
Other funds and grants
Funds and grants may also be available from other sources. Some courses and departments have grants and teaching or research assistantships available and you should ask the course tutor or administrator about these when applying. Scholarships are advertised in the Times Higher Educational Supplement and the Guardian. You could also try searching scholarship-search.org.uk and FindAPhD.com.
The postgraduate study section of prospects.ac.uk has a lot of information about funding, as well as a current list of courses currently offering some form of funding.
There are some books in Career and Employability Services reception with details of funds and scholarships you can apply for, and there are a variety of smaller grants you may be eligible for dependant on your background (place of birth, past occupation, religion etc):
- Turn 2 Us has a searchable database of grants from charitable organisations.
- The Scholarship Hub (log in required) also features potential sponsorship opportunities.
FindAMasters.com and FindAPhD.com Funding Awards
If you are interested in working for an employer whilst researching for a higher degree then you could consider a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.
Some employers offer research grants for specific topics each year. For example the Wellcome Trust offer grants in medical, bio-medical and scientific research areas.
You could also try the speculative approach. Think about employers who might benefit from your research and write them a speculative letter describing your research and giving your academic background in detail. For help identifying relevant employers call in to Careers or book an appointment with a career consultant .