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.

For the latest UKRI guidance on COVID-19, please visit their 'Guidance for the research and innovation communities' webpage.

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 the University Graduate School (, and the next batch deadline is Friday 30 October 2020
  • DTC students should complete the following guidance (Word - 22KB) and application form (Word - 29KB)
  • DTP students should apply using this guidance (PDF - 251KB) and application form (Word - 72KB). 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, and the ESRC DTP may not approve requests when expenditure has already occurred.

DTC students can also apply through the University Graduate School for:

  • Overseas Fieldwork (OSF) and Difficult Language Training (DLT): guidance (Word - 26KB) and application form (Word - 30KB). Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with no set deadline.
  • Overseas Institutional Visits (OIV): guidance (Word - 25KB) and application form (Word - 24KB). Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with no set deadline.
  • Events and conferences: guidance (Word - 20KB) and application form (Word - 20KB). Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with no set deadline.

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


As a condition of funding, the ESRC require all students to undertake additional research training, which at the University of Birmingham is delivered through the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Research Methods and Skills (PGCARMS). In addition, the ESRC funds a range of data and methods services to support research and study. Each service provides support and delivers training. More details can be found below.

Proof of your award and funding

The University Graduate School can provide you with written confirmation of your current registration status at the University of Birmingham and 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. Please note it can take up to two weeks for this letter to be processed.

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 Graduate School 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 also read the DSA guidelines for students with Research Council funding or visit the UKRI website

Need more help?

For further information, please download the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide or contact the University Graduate School at


Professional Services