November News and Updates for Masters Students – focus on PhD funding

“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.”  Cynthia Rylant

And what better food than food for thought? There’s plenty of that in this month’s newsletter if you’re thinking about doing a PhD after you graduate, because it’s all about funding.

Important note This is just a getting started guide.  Applying  for PhD funding, especially in the Arts and Humanities, can be a messy, non-linear, discursive suite of tasks. Even if you are applying for a funded opportunity – more common in STEM subjects, it still requires a proactive approach and resilience along with good planning and organisation skills. Good written and verbal communication skills go without saying (but I thought I would say so anyways, just in case). The aim of this article is to point you in the direction of things to think about and to encourage you to talk to people – especially prospective supervisors or current PhD students for advice – but even then, taking action and making it happen is all up to you.

 Not sure if a PhD might be right for you – start with our Doing a PhD pages on the Careers Service website

Apply for a funded studentship

Normally, a studentship is when you carry out the research on an already formulated project that has been funded by one of the UK Research Councils: “Please do not apply for UK studentships on this site unless you qualify for UK Research Council funding or have access to funding from other sources. Funding for PhD studentships from UK Research Councils is available to UK citizens or those who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for a period of 3 years or more. EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award.”

  • Find out more from FindaPhD (includes advertisements for PhD opportunities).

Other places to find RCUK studentship opportunities:

Talk to academics and– one of the most effective ways of tracking down studentship opportunities

NB: Some studentships may be sponsored by non-RCUK funders, in these cases eligibility may be different. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR BEFORE APPLYING FOR FUNDING.  TALK TO PEOPLE IF YOU ARE NOT SURE.

University Scholarships and Bursaries

Most universities will set aside money so they can offer a number of scholarships to students who are accepted onto a course. Highly ranked universities usually offer the greatest number of this type of scholarships. The amount of money also depends of the scholarship.

Bursaries are different from scholarships as they take into account the financial need of the student. Bursaries usually range from £100 to £4,000. The sum of money may be deposited into the student’s bank account, so they can use it to pay for any university related expense they choose or the university may automatically deduct it from the tuition fees.

Funding opportunities at The University of Manchester

Not planning to do your PhD at Manchester?  Check what funding your target institution(s) offer.

When in doubt, Google

My search for “PhD scholarships for Nigerian students” came up with a range of funding options (although some of the results did include UG and PGT, there was still a reasonable amount to choose from).


Not easy, but highly satisfying.  It is messy, hard work and a route for the highly motivated who passionately love their subject and research.  Yours truly self-funded her PhD, and knows of several other successful self-funders, so she knows of what she speaks.

The University subscribes to The Alternative Funding Guide and you can find it here:  (needs your UoM login)

Many Postgraduate students fund their studies through working part-time, opportunities may be available in the local area or at your University. It may be possible to earn money teaching or as a research assistant where you are studying. Under the scheme, research postgraduates receive direct payment or a waiver of fees in return for undertaking teaching or research duties.  Postgraduate students may also be able to apply for pastoral roles in Halls of Residence, although this may not be possible at every institution.

How about an online searchable database of all sorts of charities and grants, called Turn2Us?

It’s not aimed at students or education particularly, but covers all sorts of grants. There are many categories, but try starting with “Studying (16+)” or head straight to the “Grants Search”.

It’s worth ticking any religious affiliations, health issues, or different family circumstances which apply to you, as some trusts were set up with terms which only allow them to give out grants to people who are, for example, from the Clan Forsyth or the Buchanan Family. Funds are also available to vegetarians, and there are some available to those from overseas residing in the UK.  Definitely worth a try!

Studying overseas?

Start with the advice on FindaPhD 

Talk to PhDs in your department about how they funded their PhDs

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