Funding your research

There is help available from various sources to fund your life as a research student.
Piggy bank

Funded postgraduate research positions

Most institutions advertise funded postgraduate research positions on the postgraduate study/research section of their website. These are normally funded as part of a larger project. In Northern Ireland there are two types of award available: Studentships and Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology (CAST) (for research projects at Northern Ireland universities with an industry partner). These awards generally last for three years and cover a maintenance allowance (around £14,057 ) and fees. Details are available on the postgraduate section of

As with all postgraduate programmes you will need to think about maintenance costs. While there are always hidden costs that are difficult to budget for, there are a number that are more obvious. For those undergoing research in either science or social sciences, attendance at conferences, both at home and abroad, are an important part of developing your profile academically.

How to fund yourself

While most postgraduates support themselves, there are a number of other ways of funding postgraduate study. The following are specific to research students.

Funded postgraduate research positions

Most institutions, in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, advertise funded postgraduate research positions on the Postgraduate Study/Research section of their website. These studentships are funded as part of a larger project awarded to principal investigators within each institution. In Northern Ireland there are two types of full-time research studentship available: Research Studentships and Cast Studentships. You can view full details of these on the postgraduate section of the Department of Employment and Learning website. To be eligible for these awards you must have been a resident in the UK (or, for fees-only awards, elsewhere in the EU) for three years before applying.

Research councils

The Republic’s two research councils, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Irish Research Council for Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), have now merged to become the Irish Research Council ( The merger won’t affect existing postgraduate scholarships or research fellowships, but will, the government hopes, ultimately result in a strengthening of focus on early stage research careers. Bringing the science and humanities disciplines together should also provide increased opportunities in interdisciplinary research. The Irish Research Council will remain the principal body of postgraduate study and research in Ireland.

UK Research Councils

Research Councils UK ( is the umbrella body for the seven Research Councils in the UK. The individual Research Councils are:
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Medical Research Council
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council

You should approach your prospective academic department to discuss applying to one of the Research Councils.

Working within your institution

Many university departments offer postgraduates paid roles as teaching assistants or tutors. However, there is normally a limit on the number of hours you are allocated, so that this work does not adversely affect your own studies.

UCC have a comprehensive PhD funding programme, more details can be found here

Funding from your institution

Many institutions provide bursaries or travel funds to help cover the cost of attending conferences. You will be able to get details from your institution’s Graduate Studies office

Other research schemes

Research schemes are run also by other funding bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (, Teagasc (Walsh Fellowships) ( and Science Foundation Ireland ( Applications are through funded projects, so check with your department or your academic supervisor for more information.