Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research and training in social and economic issues. It is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter, but receives most of its funding through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The ESRC funds over 2,500 researchers in academic institutions and policy research institutes throughout the UK. It also supports more than 2,000 postgraduate students.

Your award

Basic stipend amounts are confirmed each year by the ESRC governing body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Most awards will provide funding towards fees and an annual maintenance grant award. Stipends are paid directly into your bank account monthly in advance instalments.

If your funding began in October 2016 or earlier you are funded through the Birmingham Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). If your funding began in October 2017 or later you are funded through the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).

Additional funding

ESRC doctoral students are also eligible to apply for additional funds on top of their stipend and/or fees. These funds can be used for a range of activities, including attending conferences and training, overseas and UK study visits, or to cover other primary research costs. There are four main sources of funding available.  

Both DTC and DTP students can apply for a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), which can be used for overseas and UK study visits, overseas conference attendance and advanced training courses. RTSG applications from DTC students are submitted to

DTC students should complete the following application form (Word - 29KB). Guidance notes can be found here: guidance (Word - 22KB)

For DTP students: Applications for RTSG funding requests are considered on a rolling basis across the academic year. Please refer to the Midlands Graduate School ESRC DTP  webpage for further details including the latest guidance notes and application form. This page is password-protected, and if you do not remember the password, please contact  

DTP students should note that no money will be paid out without proof of expenditure. Please note that all RTSG requests must be submitted, and have been approved, prior to any expenditure occurring, as not all RTSG requests are approved. The ESRC DTP may not approve requests when expenditure has already occurred. 

DTC students can also apply for:

  • Overseas Fieldwork (OSF) and Difficult Language Training (DLT)
  • Overseas Institutional Visits (OIV)
  • Events and conferences

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with no set deadline. For application form and guidance notes, please contact

DTP students will need to visit the Midlands Graduate School ESRC DTP funding pages for information about applying for these pots of funding.

Proof of your award and funding

The University can provide you with written confirmation of your  Research Council funding.

Please email to request this ( with your ID number, full name, and specifics of any information that needs to be confirmed. 

Leave of absence

The ESRC does allow leave of absences to be taken from funded studies for medical and personal reasons, including maternity leave (in line with statutory maternity provision). A leave of absence can also be taken if you have been offered a temporary job which will be of benefit to your overall funded research.

If you are on a leave of absence for non-medical reasons you will not receive any funding from the ESRC, but your payments will resume once you have confirmed your return to your studies. In addition to this, your registration dates on your study will be automatically extended to take any leave of absences into account.

Retrospective leave of absence requests will only be considered by the ESRC under exceptional circumstances.

Extending your registration or submission date

Extensions to your normal period of registration should be discussed with your supervisor as part of your annual progress review meeting. If you are in writing up status, an extension to the submission date of your thesis may be approved for personal or medical reasons. Retrospective extension requests will only be considered by the ESRC under exceptional circumstances.

As the ESRC only fund their students when they are normally registered, you will not receive additional funding for an extension in your writing up period.

Changing from full-time to part-time

The ESRC will support a transfer from full-time study to part-time study (or vice versa) if the request is supported by your School and College. You should discuss any potential changes to your registration status with your supervisor. Transfers between full-time and part-time study are only permitted during your period of normal registration. Retrospective transfer requests will only be considered by the ESRC under exceptional circumstances.

Departure of Lead Supervisor

Studentships are awarded on the basis that they will be carried out and completed at the University of Birmingham. If your lead supervisor leaves the University (for example, if they retire, take an extended leave of absence or move to a different institution), it is the School’s responsibility to ensure that suitable alternative supervisory arrangements are made for you.

In accordance with the University’s Code of Practice on the Supervision and Monitoring Progress of Postgraduate Researchers, the School will assign you a new supervisor from a relevant research area. Supervisors should therefore make every effort to inform you of any foreseeable changes to your supervisory arrangements.

If a suitable replacement supervisor cannot be found within the University, and all other potential arrangements have been exhausted, the University may consider a transfer to another ESRC DTC/DTP. The ESRC will not agree a transfer to an institution from outside the ESRC DTC/DTP structure, nor to a subject outside the ESRC subject domain. In such circumstances, you will be required to withdraw from your programme of study.

Studentships are only transferable in the most exceptional circumstances. A transfer requires agreement from the receiving institution and the ESRC. You will be advised by the University of any financial consequences, should a transfer be agreed. Note that most DTC/DTP studentships are co-funded by the ESRC and the University of Birmingham and that only the ESRC-funded component of studentships can be transferred.

If your supervisor is expected to leave the University, and you have not already been advised of the arrangements for alternative supervision, you are advised to contact your School’s Postgraduate Research Lead immediately.

Disabled Students Allowances

To apply for a DSA you will need to contact Disability Services, who will provide you with the relevant forms and can give you further advice about eligibility. To find out if you are eligible for a DSA please visit the UKRI website

Need more help?

For further information, please download the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide or email


Professional Services