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Financial support is available from a variety of sources: the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for UK and EU students, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the School of Social and Political Science, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and University awards. A comprehensive page can be found here.

Please note that, if you wish to apply for some awards (including ESRC, AHRC, and School and University of Edinburgh scholarships), you must first apply to the University for a place on the PhD in Politics. Note that deadlines for the University of Edinburgh scholarship/studentship funding is 1st February preceding the start of the academic year for which it is available. Students who wish to apply are invited to check whether they are eligible for funding before making full inquiries about the suitability of their project and academic background. Students seeking advice on their funding applications should contact potential supervisors well in advance of deadlines.

More information about internal funding available within the School of Social and Political Science is here.

ESRC Awards

The ESRC is the main British funding body for research in the social sciences, offering studentships for research students. These studentships are offered through the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences, the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (SGS-DTP) for Scotland. 

The SGS-DTP, based in the University of Edinburgh, offers studentships in the pathway for Politics and International Relations, which is governed by representatives from the Universities of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, and the University of Strathclyde. Although awards will be shared among the four universities, interested applicants should apply directly to the university where they believe their research interests are best represented in staff research activity.

Students are not permitted to apply to more than one of these four universities within this pathway. The numbers of studentships are likely to vary each year. In view of the limited number of awards and the very high standard of applications received, ESRC studentship funding is highly competitive.

Candidates may apply for two types of studentships in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh:

  1. 1+3 awards: Students will be funded for a one year MSc by Research in Politics, with an emphasis on research methods, followed by three years of research for a PhD on a topic matching the research interests and expertise of staff in the subject area.
  2. +3 awards: Students demonstrating sufficient training in research methods will be funded for three years of research for a PhD on a topic matching research interests and expertise in the subject area. Note that students in any field of politics (including political theory), who have completed an ESRC-recognised MSc elsewhere in all fields of politics, would be more than welcome to apply to us for a +3 ESRC studentship.


ESRC Studentships are only available to UK and EU nationals who have been recently resident in the EU. UK and EU nationals resident in the UK for the last 3 years (including for the purposes of education) are eligible for full studentships that cover both fees and maintenance. Fees-only awards are available for EU applicants without UK residency. Fuller details of eligibility can be found in the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide.

Application process

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:

School, College and University Funding

The University offers a range of funding opportunities and scholarships and applicants are encouraged to apply for those most appropriate. A comprehensive page can be found here. Some of the most relevant funding opportunities at University, School, and College level are listed below.

School of Social & Political Science Awards

The Graduate School of the School of Social and Political Science offers a number of competitive studentships for PhD students. The Chrystal Macmillan Studentship may be of special interest to Politics and International Relations applicants. The deadline for receipt of applications is the 1 February 2017.

College of Humanities & Social Science Awards

The College also offers funding awards, both full studentships and scholarships that cover fees and a research expenses allowance. Only those with the highest standard of academic qualifications can be successful, as College Research Awards are extremely competitive. For example, there are usually over 20 applicants for each award, and many have masters degrees. The deadline for receipt of applications is the 1 February 2017.

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.

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.

All the School, College and University funding opportunities listed above can be applied for via the University of Edinburgh online application form located within your applicant hub (MyEd).


PhD students in Politics & International Relations have the opportunity to tutor on undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Such opportunities are dependent on availability and appropriate knowledge/expertise. The range of courses on which tutoring opportunities are typically available is broad and ranges from first year introductory courses through to specialised taught MSc courses.

A 'Call for Tutors' is issued annually by the Undergraduate School of Social and Political Science and applications are assessed on merit.