Applying for research funding can be a competitive process and your likelihood of success will depend on your qualifications, experience and research aspirations.
How Much Will It Cost?
Before considering how to find funding, remember to consider how much a research degree is likely to cost. You should consider your:
Investigating potential funding sources and preparing postgraduate research applications is a lengthy process, so you should allow plenty of time. It is not unreasonable to start looking one year before your proposed start date.
When looking at your personal timeline for applying for a PhD, please note that you can usually only apply for funding once you have made an application or have an endorsement from the University.
Some funders have closing dates early in the year, so it is a good idea to start the application as early as possible (up to a year before your proposed start date).
You should thoroughly read the project details to check whether funding is only available for programmes at certain universities, or if it is only available to a limited set of nationalities.
Funded Projects or Studentships
Fully funded PhD projects or studentships are usually well advertised; however, you should be prepared to spend some time researching your options and checking the details of any project you are interested in.
Our funded projects are usually listed on our PhD projects page.
This is not an exhaustive list of Postgraduate Research Opportunities. If you cannot find a project you are interested in, please use the Subjects Search tab, the Find A PhD Supervisor tab or contact the appropriate Faculty Hub:
- Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – askAHSS@qub.ac.uk
- Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences – askEPS@qub.ac.uk
- Faculty of Medicine, Health, and Life Sciences – askMHLS@qub.ac.uk
Funded PhD Study
We currently have over 15 flagship doctoral training programmes, funded centres and partnerships, which aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide world-class training within a thriving research culture across a number of disciplines.
Benefits of undertaking a doctoral programme through one of Queen's Doctoral Training Programmes typically include:
- Competitive stipends and maintenance grants
- Unique multi-disciplinary, fully-funded opportunities
- Access to world leading experts
- Involvement of leading industry, business, government and charity partners in both training and research
University Scholarships and Funding
Queen's University offers scholarships and student funding opportunities. You will usually need to have applied to study with us first, before you can apply for a scholarship or funding.
You should also check the websites of individual schools and departments within the University as they may have extra funding resources.
Postgraduate Doctoral Loans
If you are a UK national, you may also be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the government.
Government and other external funding
Research Council PhD Studentships
In the UK, one of the main sources of funding is the UK research councils. You can look at the relevant research council in your field and see if they have any opportunities available:
- Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Funding bodies support PhD students in different ways. Some will pay tuition fees only; some will include a stipend (maintenance/living costs) or travel expenses; while others will simply be a one-off award to ease the financial burden of further study.
Similarly, each funding body will have its own criteria for eligibility, including how long you have been a resident in the UK. At PhD level, funding will tend to be awarded on academic merit; however there are some awards that take into account financial background and other criteria such as gender (such as in the case of the British Federation of Women Graduates).
Other Sources of External Funding
Funding may be available from external funding bodies such as trusts and charities, research foundations, government agencies, the private sector or your home government. Your prospective supervisor and previous undergraduate/masters study advisors may have sources of knowledge in this area.
If you are currently studying at a university, your institution may have access to these funding resources, but these will only be accessible through your university’s IT network:
Vitae is an organisation that aims to help researchers with their professional development and can offer advice on finding sources of academic funding.
- The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding is a popular resource helping all postgraduates, regardless of subject or nationality, to find funding for PhD, Masters, and PGCE study.
Working While Studying
Working while studying your PhD is challenging. There are opportunities for part time work within the University. The University sometimes offers part-time employment to full-time postgraduate research students, but the hours of work are limited to an average of nine hours each week across the academic year.
If you are considering opportunities outside of the University, we recommend you apply this time limit to any employment outside your studies, to ensure you still have enough time to focus on your research. You will also need to make sure that your employer understands the need for flexibility and the demands that your studies will make on your time.
More information on part time work opportunities is available here.
If you are planning to work part-time while you study, you should make sure you are eligible to work in the UK. Check the conditions associated with any offer of study, any loans, or scholarships you plan to take, and your visa (if you are an international student). Advice on working in the UK as an international study is available on the UKCISA website.
Employers are always keen to develop their employees through training. Medical, legal and technology driven businesses may be interested in sponsoring you for your PhD.
You will need to spend time putting together a proposal for your training to secure your funding, clearly indicating the benefit this training will bring to your future work.
Private Loan Providers
Specialist loans are available for postgraduate students from some financial institutions. You should make sure you are clear on the terms and conditions of the scheme.