How to apply for PhD scholarships in the College of Social Sciences


Each of the Schools within the College of Social Sciences (CoSS) offers a selected number of scholarships each year, which are CoSS-funded (School Scholarships) or funded in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC Studentships).

ESRC Studentships will cover fees (at home student rates) for 3.5 years full time (or 7 years part time), plus some research and training expenses. If you are an international student with an ESRC studentship commencing 2024, the University of Birmingham will cover the difference between the home and international fees rate. In addition, both home and international students will receive a stipend at ESRC rates.

The ESRC awards require you to have sufficient training before you commence your PhD research. For students who do not yet hold a Masters degree, you can apply for a 1+3 scholarship, which includes a Masters year, prior to commencing the PhD. 

Please see the Midland Graduate School website for more details on how to apply.

The University of Birmingham will be nominating students in the following pathways: Applied Linguistics; Area Studies; Cross-disciplinary Methodologies and Advanced Data Analysis; Economic and Social History; Economics; Education; Health and Well-being; Human Geography;  Living in a Digital Society; Management and Business Studies; Political Science and International Relations; Psychology, Socio-legal Studies; Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology; Sport and Exercise Science; Sustainable Development, Net Zero and Climate Resilience.

To apply for ESRC Midlands Graduate School funding, you would be advised to contact the pathway lead at Birmingham as soon as possible to check that you project falls within the remit for that pathway.

  • The deadline for applications for ESRC Scholarships is midday on Tuesday 23 January 2024 (12:00 GMT) 

School Scholarships are to support students who will commence their PhD studies in September 2024. As such, only new applicants (and not existing PhD students) are eligible to apply. These scholarships cover Home fees and stipend for 3 years full time (or 6 years part time), subject to satisfactory progress. In some cases, Schools may also offer a stipend or cover fees for international students. However, please note that School Scholarships cannot be used to support distance learning PhD programmes.

How to apply: Applicants will automatically be entered into the School Scholarship competition, when they apply for an ESRC-funded studentship from the Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

  • The deadline for applications for ESRC Scholarships is midday on Tuesday 23 January 2024 (12:00 GMT)

Applicants for the Birmingham Business School (BBS), can apply as above or directly via the School-run process 

Applicants for the School of Social Policy (SoSP) who wish to only apply to the School studentship but not the ESRC should email for more details and an application form. 

The University of Birmingham is committed to widening the diversity of our PhD student community, and we particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups, including, but not limited to Black students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, disabled and neuro-diverse candidates, members of the LGBTQ+ community and female applicants.

Please note, to be considered for funding you must have made an application for a place to study at the University of Birmingham by the 23 January 2024.

If you require more information, please contact individual Schools to get details of what they are offering.  


Expressions of interest should be made as soon as possible. You should make initial contact with the School that is closest to your proposed research topic. You are encouraged to approach specific academics directly to enquire whether they would be willing and able to supervise you, but please also inform the School PGR team that you are planning to make an application so that they can support the process.

You should include in your email:

  • a short covering letter providing information about your background, qualifications and motivation for undertaking a PhD
  • a 1-2-page summary of your proposed research, including a brief overview of the existing literature and potential gaps in knowledge, the research questions, and an outline of the methods that you might use to answer these questions.

Formal application for a place to study

In order to be offered scholarship funding you must have made an application for a place at the University of Birmingham by 23 January 2024. You will need to submit an application for the appropriate doctoral programme in your chosen School. 

ESRC Studentship and School Scholarship applications

The deadline for applications for ESRC funding is 23 January 2024. By applying to the ESRC you will automatically be entered into the School competition (for the School that hosts the ESRC pathway to which you are applying)

ESRC funding applications are managed by the ESRC Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership.

School Scholarships are managed by the School and the College of Social Sciences.

If, for any reason, you are applying for ESRC funding, but you do not wish to be automatically entered into the School Scholarship competition, please contact your School directly.

Decisions on scholarships

Decisions on School Scholarships vary between Schools but will usually be announced between late February and April.

Decisions from the ESRC Midlands Graduate School are usually made by the beginning of April.

If you are offered both a School and an ESRC scholarship, you will be expected to accept the ESRC one. The School scholarship will then be made available to other candidates on a waiting list.