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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school



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 Arts, 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 Sociology. Note that deadlines for the University of Edinburgh internal scholarship/studentship funding is usually 1 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 Sociology, which is governed by representatives from the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen and the University of Stirling. 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 Sociology at the University of Edinburgh:

  1. 1+3 awards: Students will be funded for a one year MSc by Research in Sociology, 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.


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

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 as soon as possible to discuss your proposal and your interest in the ESRC awards. They can also help identify a supervisor.

ESRC application process:

This is a two-part application process and both stages must be completed in order to be considered for ESRC funding.

  • Applicants must apply for admission with Sociology by 10 December.
  • Applicants must also make a funding application to GradHub before noon, 10 Jan 2020.  The Open Competition and guidance documents for applicants can be found on the SGSSS website 
  • SGSSS will launch this open studentship application form on 1 November. You will be asked to register on GradHub, and then you'll be prompted to upload your research proposal, transcripts, CV and details of one referee which should not be your potential supervisor. You cannot be considered for funding without completing this GradHub application stage.
  • Any queries about registering or logging into GradHub can be directed to the SGSSS.

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.

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 February 2020 (date to be confirmed).

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 2020/21. For more information visit the PCDS page. The deadline for receipt of applications is the February 2020 (date to be confirmed).

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship

The Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship is designed to attract high-quality overseas research students. 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  February 2020.

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).

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