MSc in Molecular Medicine

Applying for PhD Studentships in the UK

Who funds studentships?

Most PhD studentships in the UK University Biomedical Departments are funded by external funding agencies, such as the UK Government Research Councils, Medical Research Charities and Philanthropic Organisations. There is some funding that originates within educational institutions as well. Some studentships are made available competitively in small blocks from funding agencies (such as the Wellcome Trust) to University Departments but most are applied for individually by scientists (the prospective supervisors). Funding agencies seldom assign studentships to individual students.

If you want to apply for a studentship in the UK, you need first to identify the area you would like to work in and then find a PhD project that interests you. is an excellent on-line source of rapid information (but please read on).

Who can apply?

Some funding agencies (such as the Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation) control the availability of their studentships. All agencies that I have investigated restrict the level of tuition fees to the EEA/UK level. If you are an overseas student, then it is crucial to identify the funding agency: I have contacted some major agencies in biomedical science and discussed their funding policies with them.

I have prepared a table that is up-to-date on 28 March 2007. It explains what funding a student can expect from different bodies. For example, if you are from Pakistan and you have been present in the UK fora single year of education then you will not be eligible for a PhD studentship funded by BBSRC under any circumstances, however you will be eligible for Wellcome funding but you will need to make up the difference between the EEA/UK rate of tuition fees and the overseas rate at the host institution, by bursary, by waiver of fees or by making up the difference from your own funds. (Note that some studentships are quite generously paid so that this is not out of the question).

The information displayed on" Find a PhD" is not complete, and it is worth reading the full posting and identifying the funding agency, if you can, especially when the "EU" logo (flag) appears against the project and you are not a UK or EEA citizen. It is your choice whether you use your salary, if you must, to support your University fees. It is sometimes the case that even the prospective supervisor may not really know whether the studentship may be used for a non-EEA student.

Download: PhD Agencies 2007 Table (PDF, 12k)

Your fee status at the University of Sheffield

To find out about your fee status at the University of Sheffield, please use the following link. In summary, however, you generally need to have been ordinarily resident in the UK (not as a student) for three years in order to qualify for EU/UK status. There are a number of details and exceptions, for which you should see the following page:

Academic Advice

Before you apply for a studentship, is a good idea to inform yourself as thoroughly as possible about the particular project and since there will always be many applicants for a position, you will need to be impressively well informed as well as appropriately qualified. Nothing is quite so impressive as a student who knows what they are talking about! Always read the publications of your prospective supervisor, and any other appropriate background (You don't want to appear to believe naively that your potential supervisor is the only person who ever worked in the field). Be prepared to ask questions and engage the supervisor in conversation about the project.