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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school



Applicants are strongly encouraged to secure funding for their PhD studies. There are a range of different funding sources available, each with their own eligibility conditions. The main sources of funding are listed below for prospective applicants to view. We recommend that applicants begin planning funding applications well in advance of the deadlines, and familiarise themselves with the specific requirements of the funder. Some funders will require an offer of acceptance on the PhD programme from the University of Edinburgh in advance. Securing this offer can take some time, as it involves writing a proposal that meets our required standards and finding suitable supervisors (See ‘How to apply’). Applicants should leave at least one month for this.

In addition, all of the major funding applications are highly competitive and being successful requires a finely honed and carefully thought through proposal. This takes time to produce.

Interested applicants are strongly advised to contact potential supervisors and the PhD in African Studies Postgraduate Advisor, Akin Iwilade about suitability for the awards in advance of any applications.

ESRC Studentship, open competition:

The PhD in African Studies is eligible for studentships funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). For full details and guidance notes please see the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) website:  

Note: Deadlines for the 2020 competition have now passed. Applicants wanting to apply for the 2021 competition (which will fund PhDs commencing September 2021) are advised to check this website and the SGSSS website in September 2020, when the new deadlines and conditions should be announced.

University of Edinburgh (UoE) funding opportunities

The University of Edinburgh offers a range of different scholarships, each with their own elligibility requirements and conditions.

A full list of those available to applicants for the PhD African Studies is available here. Interested applicants are encouraged to examine these carefully. Please note, it is possible to apply for more than one of these competitions.

Note: Deadlines for the 2020 competition have now passed. Applicants wanting to apply for the 2021 competition (which will fund PhDs commencing September 2021) are advised to check this website in October 2020, when the new deadlines and conditions should be announced.

CAS-Leiden joint PhD studentships

Four PhD studentships are available through the CAS-Leiden PhD training partnership in African Studies. Successful applicants will commence studies in September 2020. For further details see here.

Note: deadlines for the 2020 competition have passed. Deadlines for the 2021 competition will be announced during autumn 2020.

Commonwealth PhD Scholarships

Commonwealth PhD Scholarships: Commonwealth Scholarships for PhD study in the UK are offered for citizens of Commonwealth countries. These scholarships are funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Please note, you must apply to your in-country nominating body in the first instance. 

- Details on application procedures for scholarships for citizens of low income Commonwealth countries can be found here. Please note, All applications must be made through one of the CSC's listed nominating bodies.

- Details on application procedures for scholarships for citizens of high-income Commonwealth countries can be found here.

Commonwealth Split Site Scholarships are for PhD candidates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to spend up to 12 months at a UK university as part of their doctoral studies in their home country. Please see further details here

Other funding opportunities

Carnegie PhD ScholarshipsThe scholarships cover tuition fees, maintenance allowance, research and travel allowance. The awards are tenable for three years for full-time study and up to six years for part-time study. Applicants must hold a First Class Honours undergraduate degree from a Scottish University. Students in their final year of an undergraduate degree who are expected to obtain a First-Class Honours degree may also apply,  but they will be required to withdraw from the competition if they fail to graduate with a First. Further details here.

Commonwealth Scholarships for PhD and split-site (PhD) study – developing Commonwealth country citizens: Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships support one year’s study at a UK university as part of a PhD being undertaken in your home country, under the joint supervision of a home country and UK supervisor. You must apply directly to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission using their Electronic Application System (EAS). Further details here.

Graduate Discount: University of Edinburgh graduates receive a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees. The scheme applies to both home and overseas students.

Do also explore other possibilities at the University's Scholarships and Student Finance Office website. The website includes a facility to search by region, with the listing including a range of opportunities for Africa-based students.