Research council funding

Goverment funding for your research

There are seven government-funded research councils that offer financial support to postgraduate students. The majority of the awards made by these councils are to students undertaking research degrees, though there are a few awards available to students on taught programmes.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), all seven of the UK research councils support academic excellence in their own specific field. As a result of this, research council awards for postgraduate study are regarded as some of the most prestigious postgraduate awards available in academia, and as such are highly sought after; competition is extremely fierce.

Research council awards for postgraduate study are available to UK and EU residents, those with EU Migrant Worker status, and individuals who are deemed to have normal residence in the UK. Some research councils may also fund overseas students in exceptional circumstances.

Our UKRI funded Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP), Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT), and Industrial (IDC) and Engineering Doctorate Centres (EDC) offer full studentships to enable you to undertake and complete your doctoral degree.

Full research council awards will cover the cost of tuitions fees and also provide a maintenance grant to support you during your study. Depending on your residency status and the research council you apply to, some EU students may be eligible for a fees only award. The value of fees and maintenance grant support that you receive is defined by UK Research and Innovation, the governing body for all seven of the UK research councils, with minimum stipend rates.

A standard research council award will provide you with three years of funding for a PhD, and one year’s funding for an MA, MPhil, or MRes. Research council awards are available on a full or part-time basis.

In addition to the basic maintenance grant and fees support, some research councils also provide other opportunities for training for funded students, such as a research training support grant, overseas institutional visits, overseas fieldwork, collaborative awards with industry and public sector partners, difficult language training, conference attendance, and work and research placements.

More information about all UKRI-funded doctoral training programmes currently available at University of Birmingham are organised by Research Council below.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

The University of Birmingham is currently part of The Midlands4Cities Consortium (M4C), which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Through this partnership, fully-funded M4C PhD students have the opportunity to draw on the combined expertise of the universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Warwick, Birmingham City University, Nottingham Trent University, De Montfort University and Coventry University. Through this collaborative partnership, M4C can deliver excellence in all aspects of research supervision and training, and provide access to a wide range of facilities and networks.

For more information please visit the M4C website.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

The University of Birmingham is a member of the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP), which is a BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership between the universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester. It delivers innovative, world-class research training across the Life Sciences to boost the UK’s growing Bioeconomy. Fully funded studentship projects are thematically organised and are offered within a range of University of Birmingham Schools and Departments.

For more information please visit the MIBTP website.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The University of Birmingham is part of the Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), one of 14 DTPs across the UK accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The DTP offers postgraduate research studentships in 17 social science disciplines at six universities in the Midlands. Studentships are awarded competitively across the disciplines and partner institutions. The first intake of students began in October 2017.

For more information please visit the University of Birmingham MGS ESRC DTP website.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

There are number of EPSRC funded Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) currently at the University of Birmingham. These CDTs all draw upon the expertise and research facilities of a broad range of collaborative partners. The aim of these Centres is to train a new generation of scientists and engineers to address interdisciplinary challenges in order to solve global problems. The subject areas covered by these CDTs include:

  • Carbon Capture and Storage and Cleaner Fossil Energy
  • Formulation Engineering
  • Fuel Cells and their Fuels - Clean Power for the 21st Century
  • Innovative Metal Processing
  • Structural Metallic Systems for Gas Turbine Application
  • Physical Sciences for Health

For more information please visit the EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training website.

Medical Research Council (MRC)

The MRC fund research, grants and postgraduate study that is dedicated to improving human health. They support research across the entire spectrum of medical sciences, in universities and hospitals. The University of Birmingham currently receives funding from the MRC for a number of different areas including:

  • Air pollution and human health
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Cancer research
  • Cardiovascular research
  • Cell biology
  • Infections and immunity
  • Neuroscience

For more information on MRC funding, please visit the University of Birmingham's MRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership website.

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

The NERC-funded Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA) is a consortium of universities (Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Warwick and The Open University) and research institutes (British Geological Survey and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) that are working together to provide excellence in doctoral research training within the remit of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). As a CENTA doctoral researcher, you will belong to a consortium that can provide you with extensive training and give you confidence in all aspects of your research.

The University of Birmingham is also an associate partner of the NERC CDT in Oil and Gas, which comprises the collaboration of 7 core academic partners (Aberdeen, Durham, Heriot-Watt, Imperial College London, Manchester and Oxford universities and the British Geological Survey), and 12 associate academic partners (the universities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Dundee, Exeter (Camborne), Glasgow, Keele, Newcastle, Nottingham, Royal Holloway, Southampton and Strathclyde and the National Oceanography Centre), 9 core industry sponsors (British Gas, BP, ConocoPhilips, E.On, Maersk Oil, OMV, Shell, Statoil and Total) and one associate industry sponsor, Nautilus.

For more information about CENTA or the CDT in Oil and Gas please visit the websites.