PhD Scholarships Application

The application cycle for PhD Scholarships for 2020 entry is now open. Complete and submit your PhD Course application via PG Online before 6 January 2019 (17.00 UK time).

PhD Scholarships

Photograph of students

The School of Education is pleased to support applications for postgraduate scholarships towards PhD study. We will support applications for the scholarship competition from eligible and suitable students who wish to pursue doctoral study through the following routes:

1. The University of Sheffield Research Scholarships
2. The ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) PhD Scholarship Competition (Pathway/Interdisciplinary/Advanced Quantitative Methodology awards)
3. China Scholarship Council awards

We welcome and would be happy to support any topic related to Education provided that there is a good match with available supervisory expertise, and more generally with the School’s research portfolio. We strongly recommend that prospective applicants familiarise themselves with our research specialisms in order to identify a suitable prospective supervisor well in advance of application and include the name of the potential supervisor in the application form. Seeking support from prospective supervisors in the School of Education can help in the preparation of your research proposal.

You may also wish to refer to the PhD Scholarships, ESRC Studentship Funding, China Scholarship Council awards webpages.

Awards & Eligibility

Award details & Eligibility

The awards may include:

• Fees (UK/EU or Overseas) and a full maintenance stipend at the RCUK rate (full-time rate £14,777 in 2018-19)
• Fees (UK/EU or Overseas) and a half or partial maintenance stipend
• Fees only (UK/EU or Overseas)
• A contribution towards fees and/or maintenance
• Access to Research Support funds for conference and other expenses


  • Most ESRC White Rose DTP scholarships are open to UK and EU applicants; there may be limited opportunities for overseas students, and all applicants should check ESRC White Rose DTP guidance before making an application.
  • International applicants who may receive UK level fees will need to fund the remainder. They will also need to satisfy the School’s English language requirements for postgraduate research study which is an IELTS grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.
  • Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent, and/or a Distinction in a related Masters degree.
  • Nominations for +3 ESRC awards must demonstrate that the applicant has at least 60 credits at M level of core social sciences research methods training acquired in the last five years including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods and the use of appropriate software/tools for their application. Candidates must also show comprehension of principles of research design and strategy, and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research. Please make this clear in the personal statement. Alternatively applicants will be considered for 1+3 ESRC awards.
  • Applicants should apply for a place on a full-time or part-time PhD with a start date of 1 October 2020.
  • Residency and eligibility for funding requirements apply.

For further information, please visit the Scholarship Eligibility webpage

How to Apply

How to apply

Applicants to the School of Education will first need to make a formal application for post-graduate research study via the generic online PhD portal prior to applying to the scholarship application system here.

This first application must be made before 6 January 2020 (17.00 UK time). Details are provided below. If you do not apply by this date we cannot consider your application for a scholarship.

There is a two-stage process to follow in order to meet the closing dates, so please read carefully. Before you begin the process, check here.

Stage 1 - PhD Course application (deadline 6 January 2020)

Complete and submit your PhD Course application via PG Online before 6 January 2020 (17.00 UK time) with a start date of 1 October 2020.

This enables the School to appraise and allocate appropriate supervision/research fit and needs prior to the scholarship application deadline. If you have not submitted your Research Course application by this date, any scholarship application in the School will not be considered.

Please look at the Supporting Documents necessary for your study application here.

PhD Students

Stage 2 - Scholarship application (deadline 29 January 2020)

Complete and submit your University Scholarships application to the 'Scholarship Application' system by 29 January 2020 (17.00 UK time).

You need to submit under Part 2 Course Applications, Research Course applications. You can make changes to your Scholarship application until the closing deadline.

The following documents are required for your scholarship application:

- a supporting statement of 250 words describing how your motivation, skills and achievements demonstrate potential to engage in and complete a worthwhile doctorate
- an outline of your research proposal. (10,000 characters maximum for ESRC applicants, 800 words for all other applicants)
- details of any papers, prizes, publications

We strongly recommend that you discuss the content of your research proposal with your prospective supervisor. We expect the outline of your research proposal to present the aim and objectives of the research, key research questions, the context for the research, initial ideas on the research methodology, potential contribution to knowledge, interdisciplinary and collaborative features, innovative theoretical or methodological stance and potential impact.
For ESRC candidates you will also need to provide details on your proposed mode of study, your suitability for ESRC awards and potential training needs. Please note that any students who are eligible for (and wish to apply for ) ESRC funding must select that option within the application system to be considered – the White Rose DTP have a number of additional questions which must be completed and the DTP will not consider applicants who have not completed these prior to the Scholarship deadline.

The closing date for PhD course applications to the School of Education is 6 January 2020 (17.00 UK time) – you must have applied for your course by this date in order to apply for a scholarship.

The closing date for scholarship applications is 29 January 2020 (17:00 UK time).

Successful students will be sent an award letter by email from Research Services. Successful applicants will be required to accept their award by completing a simple online form within two weeks of the offer letter being emailed.

Criteria for Successful Scholarship Applications

Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis. Applications are assessed according to the following broad criteria (not listed in any particular order) in addition to specific criteria set down by each scheme:

• Academic success and qualifications (e.g. degree classification/awards)
• Research experience of candidate (e.g. evidence of publications)
• Well-articulated research question(s) which emphasises the importance of the research to be undertaken
• A strong rationale for the research study (emphasising its value/originality)
• Clear and rigorous methodology/method
• Potential non-academic impact (where appropriate)
• Feasible and appropriate plan of research (appropriate to PhD timescales)
• A good match with supervisor expertise and departmental research portfolio/strategy



We offer an outstanding academic environment for our PhD students. We provide an interdisciplinary research experience via the White Rose DTP to all our PhD students, regardless of scholarship funding source. Quantitative and qualitative methods training at both Masters and PhD level is provided by Sheffield Methods Institute. There are also opportunities for three month internships with public, private and voluntary organisations.

Further information about our Social Sciences Doctoral Training.