Funding for research students

Your funding options

Research councils, loans and sponsorship - these are just some of the sources of funding that could help you finance your studies.

For postgraduate research students, you'll find a list of potential sources of funding below. The Prospects website also contains useful funding information for postgraduates. Similarly, the Alternative Guide to Funding is a helpful resource, which could help you find funding via a charity.

Possible sources of funding

Below you'll find possible sources of funding and details about the two types of PhD scholarships you could apply for a fully-funded PhD scholarship and a fees-only PhD scholarship.

  • Research councils
  • PhD scholarships
  • Trusts
  • Charities
  • Alternative Guide to Funding
  • Grants – check the Grants Register (Palgrave Macmillan) and the Directory of Grant Making Trusts (Directory of Social Change)
  • Government departments
  • Industry sponsorship
  • Bank loan schemes
  • National bodies
  • Government postgraduate loan – students studying certain research degrees may be eligible to apply
  • Doctoral loans

EU students

From 2021/22 new EU nationals and their family members will no longer be eligible for home fee status or student support. Find out more on the Government website.

LJMU Alumni Award

20% tuition fee discount

If you’re a former Liverpool John Moores University student, you could be eligible for a 20% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees. The fee reduction will apply automatically to eligible students. You do not need to apply. The 20% reduction will be applied to all years of the postgraduate programme being studied, not just the first year and applies to Home/UK students.

Find out more information on reduced fees for postgraduate funding. To learn more about the LJMU Alumni Award, please contact the Academic Registry team.

Government postgraduate loan scheme

The government offers a postgraduate loan scheme for those that want to study at masters level. This can be for a taught or research masters course. The amount you will receive will depend on where in the UK you normally live and in some cases, your household income.

Students from England

If you are eligible you could borrow up to £11,222 (2020/21 rate). The loans will be available to students studying a full-time or part-time course. Normally part-time courses need to be studied at 50% intensity of the full-time equivalent. This loan will be paid to you and you will then need to make arrangements to pay your tuition fees to the University. It's important to be aware that this loan is the total amount available and not per year of study.

Students from Wales

If you are eligible you could borrow up to £17,489 (2020/21 rate). The funding for students from Wales is meaning tested on your household income. Some of this money is non-repayable (so paid as a grant). This loan will be paid to you and you will then need to make arrangements to pay your tuition fees to the University. It's important to be aware that this loan is the total amount available and not per year of study.

Repayments – students from England and Wales

Once your course is completed, you will not need to start repaying your loan until the following April and you will only begin to pay back your loan when you are earning more than £21,000. Repayments will be made at a rate of 6% of your income above the £21,000 threshold.


If you’re studying an eligible course, the following students should be able to receive the postgraduate loan: 

  • Students who are ordinarily resident in England or Wales. See the below scheme for students from Northern Ireland
  • Students under the age of 60 at the start of their course
  • Those who already have a masters level qualification will not be eligible

Eligible courses

Eligible courses include:

  • MSc
  • MA
  • MRes
  • LLM
  • MBA
  • MPhil

Please note
This list is not exhaustive. To be eligible, courses need to be full standalone masters courses.

Courses that are not eligible

Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma courses are not eligible.

Please note
PGDE/PGCE courses are funded as if they are undergraduate.

To learn more you can visit Student Finance England and visit Student Finance Wales.

Postgraduate loans for students from Scotland

Students who are normally resident in Scotland can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan up to a maximum of £5,500 for full-time courses that are not available (or similar to those available) in Scotland. Eligible students can also apply for a living cost loan of up to £4,500. This funding is not means-tested. For more information and repayment details see the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

Students who want to study at postgraduate level on a part-time basis can apply for a tuition fee loan of up to £2,750 per year. Living cost loans are not available for part-time students from Scotland studying in England.

Please note
Figures quoted are for 2020 and may increase for 2021.

Postgraduate loans for students from Northern Ireland

Unlike the loan for students from England and Wales, the loan from the Government of Northern Ireland is for tuition fees only, with no government funding available for living costs. The loan for tuition fees will be paid direct to LJMU. The maximum loan is £5,500 per course. This means in some instances the loan will not cover your tuition fees in full and you will need to make alternative arrangements to pay the balance as well as source funding for your living costs.

For more information, you can also visit Student Finance Northern Ireland.

Please note
Figures quoted are for 2020 and may increase for 2021.

Government doctoral loan scheme

Value: up to £26,445

A non-means-tested loan of up to £26,445 per student is available to assist with the cost of a postgraduate doctoral qualification.

The loan is for students who are normally domiciled in England or Wales only.

To be eligible you must:

  • be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • not already hold a doctoral-level qualification
  • not be in breach of any obligation to repay a student loan
  • not be eligible for any research council funding for the course

Further information is available on the GOV.UK website for students from England and the Student Finance Wales website for students from Wales.

Course eligibility

  • must be a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course)
  • you have started your course on or after 1 August 2018 (so if you are already on a doctoral course that you started prior to this date you will not be eligible)
  • lasts between three and eight academic years

Examples of eligible courses

  • PhD/DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • EdD (Doctor of Education)
  • EngD (Doctor of Engineering)

Courses can be

  • full-time or part-time
  • taught or research-based, or a combination of both
  • you only need to make one application for a loan. Payments are then made in three instalments per year over your entire course


You will make one monthly repayment for the postgraduate loan for masters students and postgraduate loan for doctoral students if applicable. However, in the case of the doctoral loans the repayments can commence in the April after you complete the course or the April four years after you commence your course (whichever comes first) should your income be over the postgraduate threshold of £21,000. The repayment rate is currently 6% of your income over the £21,000 threshold.

If you have an outstanding balance on an undergraduate loan, this will be collected at the same time at the appropriate rate.

Further information for students based in England can be found on the Government's website. For information about doctoral loans in Wales, visit Student Finance Wales.