Department for the Economy studentships

The Department for the Economy (DfE) sponsors postgraduate studentships at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) for research and certain approved full-time postgraduate courses. Find out what's available, if you're eligible and how to apply.

What's available

The Department for the Economy (DfE) has three different types of studentship available:

Research Studentships for PhD study

If you are considering research-based postgraduate study you should enjoy working independently as you will decide your own timetable to complete your work, with some advice from your supervisor. The majority of your days will be spent collecting and analysing data with the aim of publishing your findings in a research journal.

Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology for PhD study

If you would like to do research-based study and would also like to work with industry on a project that will be product and / or process orientated, you should find out more about the Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology (CAST) studentship.

Taught Studentships for MRes study

A taught postgraduate course is similar to undergraduate degrees.  It will involve a series of taught modules, delivered through lectures, seminars and practical work. However, you will be expected to do more research on your own and more advanced assignments.

Successful Northern Ireland students will have their tuition fees paid and will receive a grant for personal maintenance.

The value of a DfE studentship

For UK domiciled students the value of an award includes the cost of approved fees as well as maintenance support. In academic year 2018-2019 the basic rate of maintenance support for a Research Studentship is £14,777 while the basic rate of maintenance support for a Taught Studentship is  £7,386.

Students from European Union countries may be eligible to get their fees paid (but will not be eligible for maintenance support).   

These awards are not affected by your parent’s income or your income, but if you are receiving similar support from industry or a university, you may not be eligible for a studentship.

Eligibility criteria

Residency and citizenship

To be considered eligible for a full DfE studentship award you must have been resident in the United Kingdom for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course..

For a tuition fee only award you must have been resident in the European Economic Area and / or Switzerland throughout the three year period immediately preceding the date you make your application for an award.

You may be eligible for support if you are the child of either a Swiss national or Turkish worker or if you have indefinite leave to stay in the UK.

Academic qualifications

You must hold or expect to get at least one of the following:

  • an upper second class honours degree for a research degree including PhDs and Master of Research (MRes)
  • a lower second class honours degree for awards to pursue a taught Masters course in Science and Technology

You must be able to provide official, final results of qualifications used to meet the academic requirements before the start of the studentship.

As there are always more applicants than awards, not all eligible applicants will be successful in receiving an award. You may, therefore, wish to explore other funding or career options at the same time as you make your application for an award.

Previous study

If you already hold a doctoral degree or you have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year or part-time basis, funded from any source, including self-financing, you are not eligible for a studentship.

Before applying

Once you've considered what you want to achieve by postgraduate study, you should then decide what course(s) will help you achieve your goal.  For example, will you need a professional qualification?  If so, does the course you're thinking about applying for offer this? Once you have picked the course that gives you the qualification/experience you need, make sure you have plenty of time to complete your application. There is a lot to think about and a lot of preparation required.  

How to apply for a DfE studentship

To apply for a DfE studentship to pursue postgraduate study, you should check with QUB or UU if your chosen course is eligible for DfE studentship funding. If so, you apply directly to your chosen university by making an online application. You must apply for a place of admission on the course of study and for an award.

Check the university’s website for details on relevant closing dates.

Successful applicants will be notified separately of the outcome of the application for a place and the application for an award. The offer of a place is not an offer of an award.

If you are applying for a research studentship you may have to write a proposal. When filling in your application form, make sure you include all the information you are asked for and take some time to consider who you will give as a referee and get their permission beforehand.

Returning studentship applications

You should make your application online on your chosen university's website (either Queen’s University Belfast or Ulster University), before the deadline. The universities are responsible for administering DfE studentships and if you are successful they will issue the monthly studentship stipend.

Summary of the application process

November/ December before your course start date Check if your chosen course is eligible for a DfE studentship and if so find out when the application form for the studentship will become available and the closing dates for the course and the studentship application.
From November until the closing date Apply online for an award at your chosen institution. Make sure you have filled in all parts of the online application and allow time for academic referees to complete and forward their reports.
From March onwards Both Northern Ireland universities send award offers to successful candidates and also tell unsuccessful applicants.

Candidates should be aware that success in obtaining a place at an institution for postgraduate study does not automatically entitle you to a postgraduate award.

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