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Doctoral Loan

Worth up to a total of £26,445 for students starting in 2020/21, this loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctorate course such as a PhD.

This information is for students who will be applying for funding from Student Finance England. Funding for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan is different if you normally live in Wales.


See the latest information on Brexit and implications on funding for EU nationals.

Funding advice

Contact the Student Advice Service for further guidance on funding your course.

Contact Research to find out about more funding opportunities.


To be eligible for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan, you must be under 60 years old on the first day of the academic year*, and study on an eligible course. You must also meet certain residency requirements.

You can't get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if:

  • you’ve received or will receive Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)
  • you’ve received a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason. Contact the Student Advice Service for detailed advice about how to prove this to Student Finance England.
  • you already have a doctoral degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher (see ‘Previous studies’ section).
  • you’re receiving a doctorate by publication

Your course

It must be a standalone doctoral course, not a top up from a lower level qualification. It must be a full-time course lasting at least three years, or a part-time course lasting up to eight years. Contact us for advice if you will study an integrated doctoral course or a distance learning course.

Your nationality and residency

You can get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if all the following apply:

  • You're a UK or EU national or have ‘settled status’, so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
  • You normally live in England.
  • You’ve been living in the UK during the 3 years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course.*

You may also be eligible in the following scenario:

  • You're an EU national or the family member of an EU national who has lived in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland during the 3 years prior to the first day of the first academic year of your course.*

The following people may also be eligible, subject to guidance:

  • The child of a Swiss national
  • The child of a Turkish worker
  • EEA or Swiss workers in the UK and their family members
  • Refugees or those granted humanitarian protection and their family members
  • Those who are not a UK national but have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half their life
  • Those granted stateless leave by the Home Office and their family members
  • Those granted leave to remain or a child of someone granted leave to remain, under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016

*The first day of the first academic year of your course is 1 September for courses starting in September/October or 1 January for courses starting in January.


You can apply online now if your course started on or after 1 August 2018. If you're starting your course in 2020/21 you can apply from May/June 2020. You can apply for a loan in any year of your course but you might not get the maximum loan amount if you apply after your first year. You must apply within 9 month of the first day of the last academic year of your course.

Receiving the loan

You can borrow up to £26,445 if your course starts in the 2020/21 academic year, however you may receive less if you apply after your first year.

The loan is divided equally across all academic years of your course. The loan is paid directly to you and you’ll receive the first instalment after you’ve enrolled on your course. You're paid 3 instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% each year.

Once your application is approved, Student Finance England will send you a letter with your payment dates or you can check your online account.

Paying your tuition fee

According to the University’s Student Fees Policy, students on the postgraduate doctoral courses are required to either:

- pay each year’s tuition fee before they enrol onto that year of the course, or

- set up an instalment plan and pay the first instalment of this plan before they enrol.

As you will only receive the first instalment of your Postgraduate Doctoral Loan after you enrol, you must consider how you will pay your first fee instalment. If you have any concerns about meeting this requirement, please contact the Fees Manager at the relevant College.


You must repay your Postgraduate Doctoral Loan at the same time as any other student loans you have. You’ll be charged interest from the day you get your first payment. The Student Loans Company provide detailed information about interest rates and repaying your loan.