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How To Fund Your Postgraduate Course

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First Published:

06th December 2016

How To Fund Your Postgraduate Course

Knowing if you can fund your studying is a key deciding factor when taking a postgraduate degree, especially if you’ve still got a pesky student loan wrapped around your bank account from your undergraduate course. 

Searching for the various funding options on university websites is a great way of knowing what you might be eligible for, and could quite possibly help in making your time studying a lot more stress-free.

Sounds good? Then take a read through our guide explaining the different funding opportunities available.

Types of Qualifications 


All Postgraduate Degrees

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Whether you are studying a taught or research degree, there are various loans and funding options available.


Student Loan

The UK government can loan up to £10,000 on a non-means tested basis for students on a Masters course.  While students on a PhD course can apply for up to £25,000.

This covers the average cost of a degree, along with a bit extra for covering things like rent, books and travel costs. You will only be charged interest on it once you get your first payment.


Professional and Career Development Loans

You can borrow between £300 - £10,000 from a bank to help pay towards your studying. Offered at a reduced interest rate, the government pays interest while you are completing your programme.


Disability Funding

If you have a disability, you can apply for financial support to help pay for things such as special equipment to help aid your studies. Postgraduate students can receive a single sum of £10,362 a year.


Alumni Discount

Many universities offer discount to alumni students who are going back to complete a postgraduate degree. For example, University of Huddersfield offers a £500 Progression Bursary to all full time continuing students and many universities offer on average, 10% off off tuition fees.



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A Masters degree is a stepping stone from an undergraduate degree, and follows a similar structure of lectures and seminars, while assessments tend to consist of exams, coursework and essays. They last between one and two years, with many universities offering the option of studying on a full or part time basis, or even remotely. Depending on the subject and university, there is also the opportunity to complete a placement year in industry.

Subject Specific Scholarship and Bursaries

Universities often have scholarships and bursaries related to specific subjects, particularly for science and sports based courses. For example the School of Social Sciences - MSc Social Research Methods and Statistics Scholarship at the University of Manchester offers £6,000 to students on the Social Statistics postgraduate programme who achieved a 2:1 or above at undergraduate level.


Hardship Fund

This is eligible for students from low income families, students who were previously in care and students with children.  Homeless, disabled and mature students are also able to apply for extra financial help.

The amount of funding available depends on your circumstance, along with the university. It’s also worth investigating whether your university will be expecting you to pay back the money in installments on a loan basis. 


Talent Based

If you achieve a first-class honors at undergraduate level, universities often offer a financial reward when you join to study a postgraduate degree. For example, at Kingston University, the Annual Fund will see students with a first class or high 2:1 receive 50% off their tuition fees.


Charity Funding

Many charities offer educational funding, normally subject specific or as a result of academic excellence. Websites such as Scholarship Search are a good way of finding out if you are eligible, depending on your chosen programme and/or academic achievements. 


Do it Yourself

Write to a charity or organisation relating to your degree to ask for funding, explaining your financial situation and why doing the course would benefit yourself and others, or the industry.



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A PhD is a research intense degree that normally lasts between three to four years. At the end of your research, you will write an in-depth article on your chosen subject, known as a thesis.


The Research Council UK allocate generous subject specific studentships in the following areas:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • Economic and Social
  • Medical
  • Natural Environment
  • Science and Technology

Covering full tuition fees and living costs, rewards typically total to £18,000. You can apply through the Research Council website, with the application process typically needing you to complete a project or letter explaining your reasons for wanting the funding.


CASE Studentships

CASE stands for Corporate Awards in Science and Education. This is when the public sector, charity or UK firm part-fund a studentship in collaboration with the university.

In return, you’ll spend time working at the contributing organisation during your studies, which is also a great way to gain contacts and experience for after you finish your PhD.  Charities, organisations and foundations involved include Cancer Research UK, Royal Geographical Society and The British Academy.


Company Funding

If you’re already in full time work, your company may be able to fund your PhD if it’s of value to your career and development within the industry.


Academic Strengths

Students with outstanding academic results will often have the opportunity to apply for funding, dependent on the university and PhD you’re looking at undertaking. At the University of Surrey for example, 50 fully funded studentships are available with the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science, for students who achieved a 2:1 or above at undergraduate level.



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PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Edu cation) is a vocational degree designed to train students in becoming a teacher. Along with classroom based learning, you will go on placements at schools to gain practical experience. You will have the option of choosing a subject specific PGCE degree, such as Physics or Maths, as well as deciding on whether you want to teach at Primary or Secondary level.


Income Based

Universities often offer funding to students wishing to undertake a PGCE who are in need of some extra financial help. The University of Sussex for example, has a PGCE First Generation Scholars Award, which provides £600 to students from a household with an income of £42,875 or less.


Subject Specific Sponsorships

If you’re studying to be a teacher in one of the following, you’ll be able to apply for a subject specific sponsorship to help fund your degree:

  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • Geography
  • Languages
  • Maths
  • Physics

The British Council offers £27,500 to outstanding language trainees. To apply for this particular funding, you’ll need a 2:1 or above at undergraduate level, or hold a 2:2 with relevant experience in your subject. To find out more, visit Get Into Teaching.


National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) Teacher Training Bursaries

If you achieve a 2:1 or above in your undergraduate degree, or have a 2:2 with relevant experience, you’ll also be able to apply for a bursary.

Financial rewards vary depending on the subject you’re teaching, along with whether you’re training to study at a primary or secondary school. Physics offers the most financial gain, with PhD trainee students being eligible to apply for £30,000, while students with an undergraduate degree (2:1 or 2:2) will get £25,000. Subjects such as English and History only offer bursaries to PhD students and those who have achieved a 2:1. To find out more, visit Get Into Teaching.



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The LLM is a Masters of Law and is internationally recognised, making it possible for graduates to find work anywhere in the world on completion. You will have the opportunity to specialise in a specific area of law, along with working on real life cases throughout the year.

Academic Merit

Students who have demonstrated academic merit (normally considered to be a 2:1 or above in your undergraduate degree) are able to apply for extra funding at some universities.

You’ll usually need to complete an application and provide an accompanying statement explaining why you should be given the extra funding. Over at Birmingham University, LLM students are offered up to £2,000 on academic merit, while international students can get up to £10,000 to help cover the cost of the degree. Lancaster University has the Faculty Postgraduate Scholarship for LL.M students up to the value of £15,000.


Company Funding

Many law firms will fund employers to study a LLM in order for them to progress in the company.


Postgraduate Diploma

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A PGDip (Postgraduate Diploma) is a vocational degree which offers training in a specific field, such as nursing or childcare. They follow a similar structure to a Masters degree with end of module exams and coursework, while lectures and seminars will take place throughout the programme. Typically, they take nine months to complete. 


Academic Merit

This is when you can apply for funding based on your academic achievements. For example, Kings College University offer five PGDip Nursing students up to £5,000 if you hold a 2:1 or above at undergraduate degree.


Company Funding

Companies often offer employees the chance to complete a PGDip if it’s of benefit to the firm and your own career progression.





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