Postgraduate scholarships in the UK

The good news for students looking to funding for postgraduate-level study in the UK is that, depending on your chosen area of study, there are a number of scholarships on offer

The following postgraduate scholarships are offered to international postgraduate students applying to study in the UK without any restrictions on nationality. This will mean that, if these are of interest to you, you will be competing with students from all over the world. There are also a number of scholarships available to students from specific countries/regions.

Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships

Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders, decision-makers and opinion-formers in countries with whom the UK’s economic relationship is expected to develop. It offers a unique opportunity for future leaders and influencers from all over the world to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK.

Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, Chevening offers two types of award, Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships. The recipients of these awards are personally selected by British embassies and high commissions throughout the world.

Applications for Chevening Awards to study in the UK in 2020/2021 will reopen in August 2019. Find out more from the Chevening website.

The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)

The CSFP is an international programme in which member countries (including the UK) offer a whole range of scholarships and opportunities for career development to citizens of other British Commonwealth countries, including undergraduate awards, postgraduate scholarships at master’s and doctoral level, distance-learning scholarships, undergraduate exchanges, post-doctoral fellowships, mid-career academic fellowships and short professional fellowships. The CSFP was established at the first Commonwealth Education Conference in 1959, and over 27,000 individuals have benefited.

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) is responsible for managing the UK’s contribution to the CSFP. CSC awards over 800 scholarships and fellowships for postgraduate study and professional development to Commonwealth citizens each year. Awards in the UK are funded by the Department for International Development, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Education (DFE), in conjunction with UK universities.

The CSC makes available the following types of awards:

You can find out more from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission website.

Gates Scholarships

Gates Cambridge Scholarships were established in October 2000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation following a donation of US$210m to the University of Cambridge, with the aim of encouraging outstanding postgraduate students from the world over to study at the University, who will then use these skills to benefit others and be of service to their communities.

Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The selection criteria are:

  • outstanding intellectual ability
  • leadership potential
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others
  • a good fit between the applicant’s qualifications and aspirations and the postgraduate programme at Cambridge for which they are applying.

Alumni from the programme are pursuing further study or employment across many sectors of society, taking on leadership roles and applying their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of others. The ultimate aim of the Gates Cambridge programme is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

The full cost of studying at the University is covered, and there are no restrictions on country of origin or subjects to be studied, so long as it is at a postgraduate level. You can find out more from the below video and at the Gates Cambridge website.

The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF)

TIRF is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to generate new knowledge about English language teaching and learning. TIRF applies research findings to practical language problems by working collaboratively with teachers, researchers, authors, publishers, philanthropic foundations, government agencies, and major companies.

Since 2002, TIRF has supported students completing their doctoral research on topics related to the foundation’s priorities. Each year, applicants who have been advanced to candidacy in legitimate PhD or EdD programmes are invited to submit proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Grants (DDGs). Proposals are reviewed by a TIRF committee of established international researchers. DDGs are provided in the amount of up to US $5,000 per awardee.

The 2019 Doctoral Dissertation Grants competition is now open. The application deadline is Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 11:59pm Pacific Time (United States & Canada). Award decisions will be made in late August 2019 and announced on the TIRF website.


Rotary, representing 33,000 rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, offers scholarships to citizens of countries where there are rotary clubs, although the level of funding will vary from country to country. Rotary describes itself as ‘a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves’.

Each year, the Rotary Foundation offers scholarships for graduates and professionals to study peace and conflict resolution or water and sanitation. These Rotary Peace Fellowships are available to candidates who want to participate in a master’s degree or certificate program at one of six partner universities, which are known as ‘Rotary Peace Centers’ and include the University of Bradford.

Through training, study and practice, Rotary Peace Fellows become catalysts for peace and development. Many go on to careers with governments, NGOs, the military, law enforcement and international organisations like the United Nations and the World Bank. Applications for the 2020–21 Rotary Peace Fellowship programme are now being accepted, with the due date for candidates to submit applications to their district being 31 May 2019. You can find out more from the Rotary website.

Individual Rotary clubs also offer scholarships for secondary, undergraduate or graduate study, which are open to anyone except Rotary members and their families.

The Royal Society

The Royal Society operates a series of grant schemes aimed at encouraging the best postdoctoral researchers in the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine, from around the world to come to the UK.

One example is the Royal Society’s University Research Fellowship scheme, which is for outstanding scientists who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field.

The Fellowship provides the opportunity to build an independent research career, and those appointed are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships. Research must be within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes, but is not limited to, biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. The Royal Society does not cover clinical medicine, social sciences or humanities, other than when working in partnership with organisations.

The Society is providing an enhanced level of research expenses for newly appointed research fellows between 1 October 2019 and the end of March 2021 due to additional funding from the UK Government’s Talent Fund. Any future decision by The Society to continue this enhancement beyond March 2021 will be subject to the availability of continued funding through the Government’s Talent Fund – in the event that funding is available, the Society may run a further application process to enable award-holders to apply for additional funding during financial year 2020–21.

You can find out more from the below video and the Royal Society website.

Region-specific postgraduate scholarship schemes

There are also a number of postgraduate scholarships for students from specific regions looking to study in the UK:

  • Europe
  • CIS states
  • East Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • South Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Middle East
  • Africa
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • America and Canada

Image credit: Mark Bowden