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PhD funding at Birkbeck

Securing funding for your MPhil/PhD research can be challenging, but Birkbeck is committed to providing support and advice to help you finance your research. This page highlights MPhil/PhD studentship opportunities available within Birkbeck's Schools, as well as information about other ways to fund your research degree at Birkbeck. 

Birkbeck studentship opportunities for 2019-20 entry 

As a research-intensive university, Birkbeck offers a range of competitively awarded studentships to prospective MPhil/PhD students. As well as PhD studentships and bursaries funded by Birkbeck, we offer funding via sources including UK Research and Innovation, the Wellcome Trust and charities, government and industry. 

Studentships explained 

  • Prospective studentship applicants should note the following:
    • A fully funded PhD studentship will provide tuition fees and a maintenance stipend, while many also include a contribution towards research costs. Details of the funding provided for each studentship will be advertised in the descriptions for each opportunity. Each year a range of fees-only studentships are also available.
    • Studentships vary in length, but they are usually between three and four years' duration for full-time students.
    • Funded studentships are usually advertised from October onward, with application deadlines beginning in January, but you should carefully check individual projects or funded MPhil/PhD programmes for the specific closing dates.
    • Decisions about the outcome of funded studentship applications are usually made in the spring/summer of the year of entry.
    • The application processes and eligibility criteria vary depending on the funder, so you must carefully read through all of the information for each studentship, to ensure you are eligible and your application will meet all of the requirements.
    • Competition for studentships is usually very fierce, with a high number of applications for each studentship.
    • The terms and conditions of studentships are determined by the relevant funding body and may include specific arrangements for sick leave, deferred entry, parental leave, supervision changes and other considerations. If you have an enquiry about any of these, you should, in the first instance, ask the administrative contact for the particular studentship opportunity.
    • Continued access to studentship funding is subject to the terms and conditions of the funder and to students being able to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress. 
    • The following studentships are available in our academic schools for entry in 2019-20: 

School of Arts 

School of Business, Economics and Informatics 

School of Law 

School of Science 

School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy 

  • Birkbeck is part of the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which we are expecting to offer in 2020-21. Find out more about CHASE studentships.
  • The School is a member of the prestigious ESRC UCL, Bloomsbury and East London Doctoral Training Partnership (UBEL DTP). Fully funded ESRC studentships (including +3 and 1+3 routes) related to a range of disciplinary pathways are available through this doctoral training partnership.
    • The studentships are for MPhil/PhD research students in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, the Department of Geography, the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, the Department of Politics and the Department of Psychosocial Studies. 
    • Applicants are advised to make contact, well in advance of the application deadline, with Birkbeck's UBEL pathway leads
    • Applicants must have applied to one of the UBEL DTP pathways by early January, but you must first apply for an MPhil/PhD programme (or MRes programme for 1+3 applications) that forms one of the training routes for this pathway. The deadlines for applying to departments varies between early December and early January - late applications are not accepted. Please contact the pathway leads listed above for details about these deadlines and further information. 
  • The Department of Geography is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) London Doctoral Training Partnership, which covers fees and includes a student stipend and a research grant to cover expenses. 
  • The following studentship opportunities were available in 2019-20: 
    • Bonnart Trust PhD Scholarships for MPhil/PhD research students in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, the Department of Geography, the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Politics and the Department of Psychosocial Studies. 
    • Up to six SSHP Postgraduate Research Scholarships for MPhil/PhD research students in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, the Department of Geography, the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Politics and Department of Psychosocial Studies. One award is specifically dedicated to an interdisciplinary project.

Bloomsbury Colleges PhD studentships

  • As a member of the Bloomsbury Colleges group, each year Birkbeck offers Bloomsbury Colleges PhD studentships. These studentships are three years in duration and provide opportunities for students to engage in collaborative research projects. 

UK Government doctoral loans 

MPhil/PhD research students can apply for government loans to contribute to the costs of studying. 

Eligibility, how to apply and repayments 

  • The UK government offers doctoral (MPhil/PhD) loans of up to £25,700 - applications are now open
  • Who is eligible?
    • The loans are open to new Home and EU students only, resident in England, aged 59 or under. Students who are newly enrolling on an MPhil/PhD programme or a professional doctorate are eligible to apply. Students who started an MPhil prior to the 2018-19 academic year and are upgrading to a PhD in 2019-20 are not eligible, as they are not considered new students. 
    • The loans are not means-tested - ie the amount you can receive is not be determined by your household income - and they are available to students who have lived in England for the past three years for a reason other than study.
  • Who is not eligible?
    • If you are on a stand-alone MPhil programme or MRes programme, you are not eligible, because you are able to apply for the government's postgraduate loans
    • If you are in receipt of government funding, such as a research council studentship (including any fees-only award), or a social work or NHS bursary, you are not eligible. 
  • Repayment
    • PhD loans are repaid at the same terms as the government's postgraduate loans, with a repayment rate of 9% for PhD loans and a combined 9% repayment rate for a Master's and a PhD loan combined. Find out more about repayment
  • More information

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), charities, trusts and foundations 

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and research charities, trusts and foundations award funding for research studentships. These opportunities will be advertised above as individual studentships as they become available, or they may be advertised through prestigious funded MPhil/PhD programmes at Birkbeck. 


Wellcome Trust

Wellcome Trust Institutional strategic support fund (ISSF)

  • Current Birkbeck MPhil/PhD students are able to apply for salary costs up to six months beyond the end of their period of formal study, in order to complete publications or develop engagement or dissemination activities, through the Wellcome Trust ISSF award (ISSF2).

Other ways to finance your MPhil/PhD

There are a number of other ways to fund your MPhil/PhD research, including Birkbeck's flexible payment options, to help you spread the cost of your fees.

Flexible payment options for your tuition fees

Professional and Career Development Loans

  • A Professional and Career Development loan is a commercial bank loan that you can use to help pay for work-related learning. We are a Registered Learning Provider (registration number 4857), which means you can apply for this loan to study here.