Funding for postgraduate study in Northern Ireland

Panoramic view of Belfast
We take a look at the different types of postgraduate funding currently available in Northern Ireland.

Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) Research Studentships

These cover tuition fees and an annual maintenance award of at least £13,590 a year. Full awards are only available to students resident in the UK. Applicants must have, or expect to achieve, an upper second-class honours degree in a related subject in summer 2012.

Studentships and CASTS

Three-year Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology (CASTs) are for specific research projects undertaken at Northern Ireland universities in collaboration with industry bodies. (Mathematical Physics postgraduates can apply for CASE style CAST awards.) They cover fees, maintenance allowance and potentially a contribution from the collaborating industry sponsor. The average maintenance grant for Northern Ireland residents for 2012–13 is likely to be at least £15,000 per year. EU residents are eligible for a fees-only award.


Individual institutions will have details of all the types of funding they provide – these may be attached to a particular course or given to those students undergoing financial hardship. Check the University of Ulster and Queen's University Belfast websites for details of funding for research.

Other bursaries

There are other bursaries available for postgraduates in particular fields and at certain institutions. The Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) could pay for extra course costs incurred as a direct result of a disability. For details, visit

The Fund for Students with Disabilities covers most full-time postgraduate courses in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. You don’t have to be in the first year of your course to be eligible for supports from the Fund; a claim is made by the institution on behalf of the student after an assessment of need. Students themselves cannot apply directly to the Fund. For more information visit

An overview of and guidance on available funding in Northern Ireland can be found on the Department for Employment and Learning website. To be eligible for these awards you must have been resident in the UK – or, for fees-only awards, elsewhere in the EU – for three years before submitting your application.

All the information supplied in this article was correct at the time of writing, January 2012.