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Postgraduate loans

Government loans are available for postgraduate studies, allowing you to borrow up to £12,167 to put towards the cost of your master's degree (MA, MSc, LLM, MRes). These loans are not means-tested - i.e. they are not linked to household earnings, savings or investments - and are available for those who have not previously completed a Master’s degree. 

Apply now for the postgraduate loan through Student Finance England.

Key points

  • You choose the loan size, up to a maximum of £12,167 regardless of the course fee.
  • The loan will be paid directly into your UK bank account, in three equal instalments.
  • The loan is a contribution towards the costs of study and won't cover all your expenses: put it towards fees, maintenance costs or other costs.
  • Apply for a loan via Student Finance England.


  • Applicants to a full-time, part-time and distance-learning Master’s programme (including MRes).
  • UK Nationals (and individuals with settled status in the UK)
    • Ordinarily resident in the UK for three years
    • Most recently resident in England
  • If you’re an EU national and have been living in the EEA or Switzerland for at least three years before the start of your course, you’ll also be able to apply for a postgraduate loan.
  • Those with residency status of refugee, humanitarian protection, EEA or Swiss migrant worker, a family member of any of these categories, or a child of a Swiss national or child of a Turkish worker may be eligible.
  • Aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of the course.
  • Your course must be a full, stand-alone Master's course, and no credit from previous study or from work experience can be incorporated.

How and when to apply?

  • Applications for the postgraduate loan through Student Finance England are now open. You can apply for the loan before you have accepted your place at Birkbeck, and we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
  • If you are applying for funding through SFNI, different rules apply. Visit Student Finance Northern Ireland to find out more.
  • Once you have accepted your offer of a place and met all the conditions attached to your offer (if there are any), you will be invited to enrol. If you tell us during enrolment that you are going to apply for a UK Government postgraduate loan, you will be given options to pay your tuition fees either in full, in termly instalments or via direct debit. Once you are an enrolled student, Birkbeck will inform Student Finance England, and this will enable them to release the money to you. Student Finance will pay the loan amount to you directly in termly instalments.

Who/what is not covered? 

  • Applicants who already have a master’s or equivalent or higher level qualification.
  • Applicants who are 'topping up' a previous qualification (such as a PG Cert or PG Dip) to master’s level or using Accredited Prior Learning (APL).
  • Postgraduate Certificates (PG Cert) or Postgraduate Diplomas (PG Dip). If you are interested in studying for these, talk to us about your options
  • MPhil/PhD research degrees or master's degrees that are undertaken as an integral part of a doctoral degree. The government provides doctoral loans for students taking MPhil/PhDs.
  • International students. 
  • Master's degrees that are longer than two years in duration may not be eligible. For more information, please


  • Repayments to the Student Loan Company will operate in a similar way to current undergraduate loans (income contingent repayment), through automatic deductions from your salary.
    • 6% repayment rate on gross earnings above £21,000
    • Interest charged at RPI + 3%.
    • The earliest you'll start repaying your postgraduate loan is April 2019, if your income is over £21,000 per year.
    • Those repaying from overseas will have a threshold applied based on the cost of living in their country of residence.
    • Outstanding debt will be written off after 30 years.
    • Repayments will be made simultaneously with any undergraduate loans held.