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At a glance

ESRC grants are available for students who:

  • meet the residency criteria (see below for details)
  • hold or are predicted to get a First class or good 2.1 degree or have relevant comparable experience
  • have been nominated by one of the ESRC eligible institutions
  • hold a conditional or unconditional offer of a place in a relevant discipline on a PhD programme at an eligible institution (some institutions confirm offers of a place once the award of a studentship has been made) 

Eligibility in more detail

SGSSS funds postgraduate students with outstanding academic backgrounds and research potential. All applicants are expected to meet the ESRC Eligibility criteria summarized in the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide. Applicants must hold or be predicted a First or a good 2:1 undergraduate degree in the social sciences, or have relevant comparable experience. Additionally, if you are applying for a +3 award then you must also hold or be completing a Masters degree in the social sciences, which satisfies the ESRC 2015 methods training requirements.

If a first year student (or part-time equivalent) is self-funding their PhD, or they are in receipt of financial support not in excess of an ESRC award, they can apply for ESRC funding from their second year, i.e. they must be in their first year when applying. The precise length of award will be determined by SGSSS based on the stage of progress (but may be +2 or +3).

Part-time awards are permitted and the funding and award lengths are pro-rated accordingly, in accordance with the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide.

As announced in August 2020, UKRI are opening up their studentships (including ESRC-funded studentships) to international students from academic year 2021/22. All students will receive a full award, to include a stipend and fees at the home level. However, the proportion of international students appointed each year is a maximum of 30% of the total studentships. In SGSSS, this accounts to approximately 16 awards across the supervisor-led and open competitions.

The full residential eligibility guidance is available within the ESRC Funding Guide, which also covers the full studentship package. To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If an applicant does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as international.

Further Information for International Applicants

Additional Fee Costs

Some institutions require international students to pay the difference between home and international tuition fees (top up fees). This is detailed in the table below.



International Students required 
to pay Top Up Fees (Masters and PhD)

University of Aberdeen


University of Dundee


University of Edinburgh


Edinburgh Napier University


University of Glasgow


Glasgow Caledonian University


Heriot-Watt University


Queen Margaret University


Scotland’s Rural University College


University of St Andrews


University of Stirling


University of Strathclyde


*University of Stirling: Whilst fee waivers will be offered, this will be up to an internal institutional cap of 30%. Applicants are strongly advised to seek confirmation of the funding position from the University of Stirling directly by contacting the HEI Admin Lead at

Please Note: International tuition fees are significantly higher than the home fee rate. As such, please see the institutional website you are planning to apply to for the current international fee rate before you submit your application to SGSSS.