Postgraduate Funding: All You Need To Know

If you're loving academia and don't want your student life to end just yet, you've probably started considering applying for a postgraduate course. While we want to empower you to embrace your love of studying, we also want to help you make informed decisions.

If you're loving academia and don't want your student life to end just yet, you've probably started considering applying for a postgraduate course.  While we want to empower you to embrace your love of studying, we also want to help you make informed decisions. Below is some very important information that you should consider before applying.

Fees and loans

Tuition fees for postgraduate courses can be significantly more than for undergraduate, and vary depending on the course and provider - the average cost is around £11,000 a year. If you are an international student, including an EU student from September 2021, fees are normally higher than this.

If you are considering continuing your studies at Royal Holloway, you will automatically receive a 15% deduction to tuition fees as an alumnus. Additionally, Royal Holloway has committed to ensuring that eligible EU students starting a course in September 2022 will not have to pay more than their UK counterparts for tuition fees. You can find out more here.

Student Finance England offers loans for postgraduate study of up to £11,570 if you are a British citizen, or have resided in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of your course, are under 60 years old, and do not already have a postgraduate masters (or higher) qualification. There are some other circumstances where you may be eligible for this loan - check out the full criteria on the government website.

This loan is not means-tested, which means the amount you get does not depend on your household income. It also is paid to you directly in three installments, and can be used to cover your tuition or living costs - it is up to you to decide how best to use it. If your course lasts more than one year, the amount you receive will be split evenly across the years of study. It will be repaid in the same way your undergraduate loan would be; as a percentage of the salary, you earn over an allowance of £21,000 a year (before tax). This is significantly lower than the threshold for most undergraduate “Plan 2” loans, which are repaid once you reach the earnings threshold of £27295 a year. You can find out more about student loan repayments here.

If you are applying for other types of postgraduate study, e.g. teacher training or some medical and social work courses, your loan options are different, so make sure to check what you are eligible for here.

Extra costs and funding support

While the loan that you get from Student Finance England may be enough to cover your tuition fees, it is unlikely to go very far in covering the costs of living, which Save The Student estimates to be £9,720 a year on average. While this may seem daunting, there are many options available to help fund your studies.

Scholarships, bursaries and grants

Universities usually have a number of scholarships and bursaries available for postgraduate students, which may take the form of a tuition fee reduction or payment to you which you do not have to repay. When researching scholarships, make sure to check the eligibility criteria and deadline before you submit an application. You can find a list of scholarships that Royal Holloway offers here.

If you have a disability or long-term illness, you can get a bursary to help cover the extra costs of any specialist equipment, alternative travel provisions, or any other costs you may have because of your disability. You can find out more about Disabled Students’ Allowance here.

There are also some charities and trusts which can offer grants to postgraduate students - the application processes for these will vary depending on the organisation. You can find some suggestions of where to start looking for charity funding here.

For doctoral study, you can apply for studentships to contribute towards the cost of tuition and living, these are often very competitive and the application process can be involved, so start looking into it and speaking to academic staff who may be able to support you as soon as possible.

Part-time employment

You may want to find part-time work to cover the additional costs of studying. You can find out more about jobs available on campus on the Student Intranet. Remember that the university does not recommend working more than 20 hours a week during term-time and that the demands of a postgraduate course are going to be more than during your undergraduate studies, so you may find you have less time for work.

Studying part-time

You may wish to study a course part-time in order to have time to work alongside your studies. If you do this, you will still only receive the one postgraduate loan of up to £11,570, split evenly across the years of your course, and there may be additional costs - for example,  as a part-time student, you will no longer be exempt from paying council tax. If you live with other students who are studying full-time, this means you will be the only person liable for a potentially large bill, so this is an important cost to factor in when thinking about part-time study. You can see more in our council tax FAQs.

On the other hand, if you do a part-time course, you may be eligible for some benefits if you can’t find a job - you can complete an assessment to estimate how much you may be entitled to here. The Advice Centre can help with the applications for benefits - just get in touch with us to arrange an appointment with an advisor.

Got questions or concerns?

If you have concerns about funding your postgraduate study, the Financial Wellbeing team will be able to advise about what support is available from the university - they can be contacted by emailing You can also see some general information on the university website.

If you have questions, you could also come along to one of the Advice Centre’s drop-ins which you can find more about on our events calendar, or drop us an email.