External Funding for PhD Students

With the Government's introduction of the new Doctoral Loan and the continued support available via the Arts and Humanities Research Council, there are more financial support options than ever before. In this section you can find information about both of these funding strands. 

UK Government Doctoral Loan

Launching on the 1 August 2018, this new Government-funding is provided via the Student Loan Company. The scheme provides loans to those who qualify of up to £25,000 to assist with the cost of postgraduate study. The Doctoral Loans are administered by the Student Loan Company and you should contact their information for further details, however here are the basic points. 

Course Eligibility: The course needs to be a stand-alone PhD programme starting after the 1 August 2018. Stand-alone MPhil programmes cannot get the Doctoral Loan but may qualify for the Master's Loan providing the student does not already have a Masters-level qualification. 

Personal Eligibility: A person must be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of the programme (usually 1 September). Most students from England should meet residency criteria but it could be more complicated for students from elsewhere in the UK or the EU (See the Government webpage for details). Students cannot qualify for the Doctoral Loan if they are in receipt of Research Council Funding (such as TECHNE or LDOC). 

Payments: Students can borrow up to £25,000, which will be split evenly over each year of the programme; within each year payments will arrive in three termly instalments. There is a maximum of £10,609 that can be paid each year which means that those applying late in their course may not be able to receive the full amount. Payments are made to the student directly and not to the College. 

Repayments: Repayments are expected to six per cent of earnings over £21,000, or  nine percent of earnings if a student also has a Master's loan (the Master's and Doctoral Loans are combined for repayments but the Undergraduate loans are always kept as a separate deduction). Repayments will come out of earnings via PAYE if a person is employed. Interest is calculated as a snapshot of RPI in September each year plus 3%; at the moment the interest rates are 6.1%. 

Applications: Applications will open in the summer via the Government website. Assessments are based on course eligibility, previous study, and residency; they are not in any way means-tested. Applications can be made until the ninth month of the final academic year (although late applications may not receive full-funding). 

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Funding

The Royal College of Art leads an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Centre for Doctoral Training (LDoc) and is a member of an AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership (TECHNE), both of which each offer full-time and part-time fully-funded AHRC PhD studentships across a wide range of arts and humanities disciplines. These awards are open to both incoming and continuing research students eligible for AHRC funding.


LDoc, the London Doctoral Design Centre, is an AHRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training based on collaboration between the Royal College of Art, Kingston University and the University of Arts London. The Centre offers both full-time and part-time AHRC-funded PhD studentships and enhanced doctoral training with a focus on practice-led Design research. 

For further details see LDOC – London Doctoral Design Centre.


TECHNE is an AHRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership between Royal Holloway University of London, University of Brighton, Kingston University, University of Roehampton, University of Surrey, the University of the Arts London and the Royal College of Art. In addition to fully-funded studentships for disciplines such as History, Philosophy, Languages and Literature, Visual and Performing Arts, the Partnership offers rigorous Arts and Humanities training. TECHNE emphasises interdisciplinarity and engagement with organisations in the arts and cultural sector. 

For further details see Doctoral Training Partnership: TECHNE.


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Close-up of a student project
Student Work, 2015
Photographer: Richard Haughton