Doctoral loans

English, Welsh and EU students who started a doctoral programme between 2018/19 and 2020/21 may be able to take out a UK government loan to help fund their studies. Find out if you are eligible, what kind of support is available and how you can apply through the information on this page.

How much is the loan?

The amount of loan you can apply for depends on the year you started your course.

First year of courseLoan amount
2018/19£25,000
2019/20£25,700
2020/21£26,445

The loan can be used to fund your course and living costs and is paid into your bank account in three instalments during the academic year.

The loan is divided equally across each year of your course in line with the number of years course fees are payable.

You can apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan in any year of your course. But if you apply after your first year, you might not get the maximum amount.

Who can take out the loan?

The information in this section is presented as a guide only. You should refer to the UK government website for further details.

To take out the doctoral loan, you must be:

  • Aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course (on 1 September 2020 for courses starting in October 2020).
  • Starting an eligible doctoral course in the 2018/19 academic year or later (on or after 1 August 2018).
  • A UK or EU national ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the academic year of your course start date, and have been ordinarily resident in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the three year period before the first day of your course; if you are an EU national but have not been resident in the UK then you may still be eligible if you have been resident in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the three year period before the first day of your course.

You will not be eligible for the doctoral loan if:

  • You already have a doctorate or higher level qualification.
  • You have received or will receive Research Council funding.
  • You are eligible to apply for the NHS bursary.
  • You are already receiving funding from Student Finance for the same academic year.
  • You have outstanding student loan arrears or have previously been found to be ‘unfit’ for student support (e.g. because of attempted fraud).
  • You have received a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason.

EU students should refer to our dedicated webpage for information on the impact of the UK leaving European Union membership.

Which courses are covered?

The information in this section is presented as a guide only. You should refer to the UK government website for further details.

Taught and research standalone doctoral courses in any subject are covered by the loan. Courses must start on or after 1 August 2018, and be 3 to 8 years in duration. Courses can be studied on a full-time or part-time basis.

Doctoral courses that include an integrated master’s degree are eligible for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan, but you must be admitted to and enrol on the doctoral course. You would not be able to make a separate application for the Postgraduate Master’s Loan.

How to apply

Applications for funding opened in the June preceding the start of your course. You are encouraged to apply as early as possible to ensure that funding is in place for the start of your course.

You can apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan in any year of your course. But if you apply after your first year, you might not get the maximum amount. You should refer to the UK government website for further details.

The final deadline for applications is 9 months after the first day of the last academic year of the course. For courses which start in Michaelmas Term this is 31st May, for courses which start in Hilary Term this is 30th September, and for courses which start in Trinity Term this is 31st December.

Will I be charged interest on my loan?

The information below on repayments and interest rates is the University's best understanding of the current position. Any changes the government make to repayment arrangements are outside the control of the University.

Interest is charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3% from the day your first payment is made until your loan is repaid in full.

How do I repay my loan?

You have to repay any loan you borrow, but not until your income is over £21,000 a year. Repayments will be based on your income, not what you borrow.

You will start making repayments the April after you finish or leave your course, or the April four years after the start of your course.

You will only start making repayments once your income is over the current threshold of £404 a week, £1,750 a month or £21,000 a year. You will repay 6% of what you earn over the threshold. So if you are paid monthly and earn £2,500 before tax you’ll repay 6% of the difference between what you earn and the threshold (£1,750):

£2,500 - £1,750 = £750

6% of £750 = £45

So your Postgraduate Loan repayment would be £45 that month.

You can find further information on repayments at the GOV.UK Repayments website.

What if I already have a student loan?

If you already have a Postgraduate Master’s Loan then you’ll make a combined repayment of 6% over the income threshold of £21,000 covering both postgraduate loans.

If you have had any other loan from the Student Loans Company then you will continue to make separate repayments alongside those for your postgraduate loan.