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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school



General information

It is unusual and virtually never recommendable to begin a PhD without funding. In almost all cases, the biggest hurdle you will face in starting your PhD is not gaining admission to a suitable department, but finding funding for your studies.

This requires significant independent research, perserverance and often creativity on the part of each candidate. We are always happy to support good candidates in their funding applications to independent bodies (e.g. Marshall, Commonwealth, Trudeau, sshrc-crsh, Fullbright), but unless you are recruited into a funded research project which includes PhD's (on topics defined by the Principal Investigaor and adverstised as job openings), you will bear responsibility for locating and applying for funding.

We have some limited scholarships within our school and subject area (discussed below), but these are extremely competitive and you should not count only on them.

There are many scholarships, studentships, and fellowships administered by national governments, private foundations, or other institutions, each with their own eligibility restrictions and offering different levels of support (fees only, fees + living stipend), etc.

It is impossible for us to be aware of our keep track of all of these, but here are some useful sources of information:

However none of these lists are exhaustive, so please do as much of your own research as possible.

If you require support for a scholarship application, prospective supervisors are often the best positioned to provide a letter, but this can also be arranged through the postgraduate advisor for Social Anthropology.

Work opportunities

There are some opportunities for PhD students to work to support themselves while studying but you should not count on these to finance your studies. Most of these jobs entail tutoring undergraduate courses, which provides some useful teaching experience. Preference for these posts tends to be given to students in the 3rd or 4th year of their programmes, although this is not a rule and some students are hired as tutors from their 1st year if there are openings. There are also occasional opportunities to work as research assistants for faculty, although these opportunities tend to be irregular and short-term.

Scholarships we award

There are two regular opportunities to be funded for your PhD from funds available to our school/subject area. These are:

SPS Graduate School Awards

How to Apply: 

Candidates must submit an application for admission prior to the scholarships deadline. This should be done as early as possible and at least two weeks before the funding deadline.

Candidates must then submit a separate scholarship application via an online application form (which is located within the applicant hub, accessed via MyEd) before the deadline of February 1, 2017.

*Thus, to be considered for a University of Edinburgh scholarship candidates must submit BOTH an application for admission and a scholarships application. It is not possible to access the scholarships application form until you have received a university user name (this will be emailed to you on submission of your application for admission). Further information is available here.

ESRC Awards

If you wish to apply for an ESRC award to be held at the School of Social and Political Science, you should contact the Subject Area Postgraduate Advisor/Pathway Representative (Dr Jamie Furniss) as soon as possible to discuss your proposal and your interest in the ESRC awards. They can also help identify a supervisor.

Prior to Monday 23 January 2017 | submit your application for admission to the University of Edinburgh programme of study, apply online for the appropriate programme here.

Monday 23 January 2017 | in order to be considered for an ESRC award you must have sent your CV and research proposal (on the SGSSS Research Proposal Form) to with the subject line 'ESRC studentship application', by this date. This must be done even if you have already sent your documents to the Subject Area PG Advisor/Pathway Representative. The body of the email must include: your full name, University of Edinburgh UUN (you will have received this when you applied for admission), and the Pathway you are applying to. It is strongly advised that you contact the Postgraduate Advisor/Pathway Representative to discuss your application well in advance of this deadline.

Thursday 9 February 2017 | if you are selected to be put forward for consideration for a 2017 ESRC studentship you will receive notification from the relevant Subject Area Postgraduate Advisor/Pathway Convenor by this date. This notification will contain a link to the registration form to begin the ESRC application process. You will not be able to register without being nominated.

Monday 13 February 2017 | if you have been nominated and sent the link to the registration form you must have completed your registration by this date. The information on the registration form must be completed in one sitting.

Friday 17 February 2017 | once you have registered and your nomination has been confirmed by the SGSSS, you will be able to upload your application documents to the portal. You should include the research proposal form, CV, degree transcripts, supporting statement from your supervisor and, if applicable, your AQM application form. Your referees will be contacted separately by the SGSSS and will be uploaded to your application by this date.

The award decision will be communicated to applicants by the 12 May 2017.

This is just an overview of the application process, for full details and guidance notes please see the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) website:

Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships

In order to attract the best and brightest PhD students, the University seeks to offer not only unparalleled research facilities and superb supervision, but also to provide development opportunities which will support our research students as they progress beyond their PhD, through an innovative programme of integrated research, training and career development.

This exciting new scholarship scheme provides a valuable opportunity for postgraduate research students to undertake a package of training and development which will help them to develop the necessary skills required to meet their career choices and offer them a breadth of development opportunities in areas such as teaching, public engagement, entrepreneurship, and research.

The awards are open to UK, EU and overseas students applying to study for a research degree in 2017/18. For more information visit the PCDS page. The deadline for receipt of applications is the 1 February 2017, via the online application form located within your applicant hub.

Queries regarding the scholarships application process should be directed to Lindsay Hunter in the Graduate School of Social and Political Science Office: or +44 131 651 1587.

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship

The Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship is designed to attract high quality overseas research students. 30 Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships will be awarded for session 2017/18. Each award covers the difference between the tuition fee for a UK/EU graduate student and that chargeable to an overseas graduate student. The awards do not cover maintenance expenses. Subject to satisfactory progress, the awards are tenable for up to three years. The deadline for receipt of applications is the 1 February 2017, via the online application form located within your applicant hub.

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