Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

The new Postgraduate Doctoral Loan for research courses in the UK is available for students normally residing in England.

For the 2018 to 2019 academic year, the UK Government have introduced a new postgraduate doctoral loan of up to £25,000 per student for postgraduate doctoral courses which will be divided equally across each year of your course. You can use the loan to cover course fees and living costs.

Key information

The main details of the new Postgraduate Doctoral Loan are as follows:

  • A loan of up to £25,000 will be made available to students applying to doctoral research courses from the 2018-19 academic year onwards. 

  • The loan will be available to students across all discipline subject areas for full-time, part-time and distance learning doctoral programmes, so long as you do not have existing qualifications at Doctoral-level or above.

  • The loan will be paid directly to you, into a UK bank account.

Important note: course length is counted from initial registration up to the expected final thesis submission (for a standard full time PhD course this means three years of supervised study plus one year of writing up period, equalling four years in total). However, student registration period ends as soon as the thesis is submitted and this will also stop any future payments scheduled after this date.


  • The loans will be non-means tested and available to students under the age of 60, on the first day of the first year of the programme.

  • The loan is available to UK nationals who have been living in England for three years  (and not have moved to England just to study) by the first day of their course.

  • The loan is also available to EU students (Nationality and residency rules for EU nationals apply).

  • Distance learning applicants must reside in England.

  • Students who already hold a Doctoral qualification (or an equivalent or higher-level qualification) will not be eligible for the loan.  
  • Postgraduate Doctoral Loans are not available to students wanting to ‘top-up’ a lower level qualification to a Doctoral degree. The course must be a full standalone Doctoral course. 

  • The course must last between 3 to 8 academic years and be delivered by a UK univeristy (you are still eligible for the loan if more than one university delivers your course and one is oversees as long as the UK university is the lead univeristy and you spend at least 50% of your study time in the UK).
  • Students are not eligible for Posgraduate Doctoral loans where they are in receipt of any other funding from any of the following:
    • Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)
    • Social work bursary
    • NHS bursary
  • Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

    Postgraduate students can apply for a single allowance DSA payment of up to £10,993 to support them in their course.  They don’t need to apply for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan to receive this support.  However, in all instances, when DSA support is required for a Doctoral course, students should complete a DSA1 full form in all circumstances. 

For more information, or to seek clarification as to eligible programmes, check the Government Postgraduate Loan website.

How to apply

Online applications for 18/19 courses are now open. You can apply via the Postgraduate Loans website.

  • We recommend that you apply for a place on your course at the University of Birmingham prior to applying to a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.
  • You will need to know your course name, start date and the duration of your course in order to apply. Please use our programme list to select the correct subject/course name on the Doctoral Loan application form. 
  • The deadline to apply is nine months after the first day of the last year of your course.
  • Please note: many programmes will be listed with a course length of four years. The course length is defined as the maximum period of registration for that particular course, but many of our courses are normally three years full time.  


  • There is no minimum loan amount that can be requested. The requested can be altered up to one month before the end of the course. 

  • Money will be paid directly to the student for paying tuition fees and living costs. Information on paying for your tuition fees can be found here.

  •  Payments will be made in three instalments each academic year, scheduled as follows: 

    • Payment 1: Course start date once the University confirm attendance (33%)

    • Payment 2: Year 2 start date (33%)

    • Payment 3: Year 3 start date (34%)

  • As with undergraduate support, students will need to provide both valid UK bank details and a National Insurance Number (NINO) in their own name.


  • Interest will accrue at a rate of RPI + 3%.

  • Repayments for students will begin either the:

    • first April after you leave your course

    • April 4 years after the course started

  • The repayment threshold will be £21,000.

  • The repayment amount will be 6% of income above the relevant threshold.

  • Repayments will be made concurrently with any other student loan repayments due. If you are repaying both an undergraduate and the new postgraduate doctoral loan you will have a 15% (UG 9% and PG 6%) total deduction taken from your salary. If you have a Postgraduate Master's Loan, then you'll make a combines repayment of 6% covering both postgraduate loans).

  • Any outstanding balance will be written off after the 30th anniversary the repayments became due.

Change of Circumstances

  • Repeat years of study will not be funded (only in exceptional circumstances as determined by the Student Loans Company).
  • Further funding is not available where the course is not completed in the specified length. Although, students can suspend and resume their course (no payments are made during the suspension period).

For more information about the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan, visit the UK Government website or Student Finance England.

Alternative Funding

For alternative sources of funding for research study for which you may be eligible, please visit our Loans, charities and trust page.

Information for EU students

Following results of the EU Referendum in the UK, there will be no immediate change to your immigration status and associated fee status or to your access to student loans as a result of the vote.  If you will be starting your studies in 2018 or 2019, you will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time (may be subject to annual increases for inflation) for the duration of your course.  You will also continue to have access to the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan from the UK Government for the duration of your course.