School of Social and Political Science

Information for ESRC students


This section includes specific information for ESRC (and AHRC) funded students, including:

  • ESRC Student Guidance - information for MSc by Research and PhD students funded by the ESRC
  • claiming Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) funds - including information on eligibility, allowable and non-allowable costs, and how to claim

ESRC Student Guidance

The ESRC has devolved administration of its postgraduate awards to the University, represented by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Postgraduate Office.

Lorna Shiels ( will handle payments to students and changes to awards.

Basic summary

The University of Edinburgh has around 160 ESRC funded students.

  • the ESRC fund postgraduate students via doctoral training centres (DTC)
  • the Doctoral Training Centre for Scotland is based in the University of Edinburgh
  • the DTC is across Scotland (10 universities)
  • the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences (SGSS) was set up in parallel with the DTC
  • the SGSS is for all postgraduate Social Science students in Scotland (15 universities) and it runs events throughout the year, including a summer school.



If you are in receipt of a maintenance grant, it is paid quarterly by BACS directly into your UK bank account, on or around 1 October, 1 January, 1 April and 1 July.


Fees will be paid automatically to the University - if receive an email regarding fees you should contact Lorna Shiels ( so she can remind the Fee Section of your funding.

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

Each student is awarded £750 per year.

Request the RTSG on the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) website

Please contact the HEI Admin Lead, Lorna Shiels, ( with any RTSG queries.

Interruptions of study

If at some point in your studies you require a break for a month or more (this could be due to illness, personal problems, maternity leave etc.), you must request an interruption of studies both from the University and from the ESRC (via Lorna Shiels).

Interruptions of study can be requested via your supervisor. They cannot be granted retrospectively (by either the ESRC or the University) so please keep your Supervisor, the SPS Graduate School and Lorna Shiels informed.

How to request an interruption of studies

Extensions to your study

If you are approaching your maximum end date of your studies and require more time, you can request an extension to your studies. As with interruptions, extensions require approval from both the University and the ESRC.

Please note that while the University may approve a certain extension request, the ESRC may not. For example, the ESRC will not approve requests for any extra time due to employment.

How to request an extension

Overseas fieldwork/Difficult Language Training (for PhD)

You can apply for additional funds for overseas fieldwork and additional funds and time for difficult language training but this needs to have been mentioned in your original application.

Find out more and apply on the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences website.

Monitoring progression

The ESRC will monitor your progress via the University's reporting mechanisms - your first year review and annual reports. It is important that these reports are submitted each year so the studentship can continue. Stipend payments may be delayed if a satisfactory report is not received. Any change of supervision and thesis title should also be noted during the annual reviews.

Submission rates

The University has to comply with the ESRC submission rate criteria. The ESRC allow you 36 months (FT) of prescribed study and you should then submit, however they do allow a further 12 months until final submission but as this is unfunded you should aim to complete study within the 36 months.

Communications from the ESRC

Any communications regarding opportunities for ESRC students will normally be sent by Lorna Shiels to your University email account, for example, information on the American Library of Congress scheme, Scottish Government placement scheme, workshops and projects. 

There will be various calls throughout the year. 

More information

ESRC Funding Guide

Student category
MSc by Research