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


Each of the Schools within the College of Social Sciences are offering a selected number of Scholarships and in addition, applicants to the College can apply for ESRC-funded studentships from the Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Please note information about scholarships for entry in 2021/22 will follow shortly.

  • The deadline for applications for all School scholarships except for the Business School is 22 January 2020 (23:59 GMT)
  • The Birmingham Business School scholarship deadline is 17 November 2019 (23:59 GMT)
  • The deadline for applications for ESRC scholarships is the 22 January 2020 (23:59 GMT)

If you intend to apply for both, you will need to submit two separate applications (although the format is very similar). In order to have time to prepare for that deadline, we have provided an indicative timetable below. In addition, you should hold an offer of a place to study at the University of Birmingham.

School Scholarships are to support students who will commence their studies in September 2020. They will cover Home/EU fees for 3 years full time (or 6 years part time), plus some research and training expenses, subject to satisfactory progress. In some cases, Schools may also offer a stipend or cover fees for non-EU students. Please contact individual Schools to get details of what they are offering.  Successful applicants for School scholarships who are eligible for ESRC scholarships will be expected to apply for one as a condition of their award.

ESRC Studentships will cover your fees for 3 years full time (or 6 years part time), plus some research and training expenses. In addition, you will receive a stipend at ESRC rates unless you have a fees-only award (available to EU applicants).  The ESRC awards require that you have completed a Masters in Social Research and 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. In this College we will be nominating students in the following pathways: Applied Linguistics; Area Studies; Economic and Social History; Economics; Education; Health and Well-being; Human Geography; Management, Business Studies and Finance; Political Science and International Relations; Psychology, Social Policy and Social Work; Socio-legal Studies, and Sport and Exercise Science.


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. Feel free 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. If you are planning to also apply for ESRC Midlands Graduate School funding, then 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.

You should include in your email:

  • a short covering letter providing information about your background, qualifications and motivation for undertaking a PhD and whether you plan to apply for the School scholarship, the ESRC Midlands Graduate School scholarship or both.
  • a research proposal of approximately 1000 words including a brief summary 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 hold an offer of a place from the University of Birmingham. We have therefore set a deadline of 22 January 2020 for receipt of applications. Please note it can take a few weeks for the application process (including interview) to be completed and an offer made. You will need to submit an application for the appropriate doctoral programme in your chosen School. 

School Scholarship applications

The deadline for applications for School funding is 22 January 2020. However, if you wish to apply for both, you must submit two separate applications.

School scholarship applications should be submitted by email to the appropriate School PGR team email address.

Download the application form (Word doc)

All applicants for School awards that are eligible for ESRC funding are expected to apply to the ESRC as well. 

ESRC Studentship applications

The deadline for applications for ESRC funding is 22 January 2020.  However, if you wish to apply for both School and ESRC funding, you must submit two separate applications.

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

Decisions on scholarships

Decisions on School Scholarships will usually be made by the end of February.

Decisions from the ESRC Midlands Graduate School are usually made by the end of March.

If you are offered both a School and an ESRC scholarship, you will be expected to accept the ESRC one. (If it is a fees-only award, we may be able to offer an additional stipend to the same level as a School award).  The School scholarship will then be made available to other candidates on a waiting list.