PhD studentships: terms and conditions

Go to an overview of PhD studentships and stipends.

The following terms and conditions apply to all University-administered postgraduate research awards, including those that are funded by research councils. In the case of externally-funded awards, the rules of the sponsor take precedence over those of the University.

Stipend payments

Full-time postgraduate research students are not deemed to be employed by the University. Payments are in the form of a stipend, which is not considered taxable income.

The minimum annual stipend rate paid by research council funding is outlined on the UKRI website:

  • £17,668 for 2022/23
  • £18,622 for 2023/24.

Stipends are paid monthly via BACS into a UK bank account, usually on the first day of the month. Where the first day of the month is not a working day, stipends will usually be paid on the last working day of the previous month. 

If you register outside the main September registration week, your first and last payments will be pro-rata but every other payment will be in line with the normal monthly payment schedule.

Annual renewal is dependent on continued registration, maintaining satisfactory academic progress, and meeting the criteria set out in any annual progress monitoring reviews.

Expense payments

If there is an allowance for consumables or travel expenses as part of your studentship, these should be claimed via your school's postgraduate administrator.

Withdrawal or suspension of studies

If you withdraw from the University, your entitlement to a stipend will cease.

Stipend payments are not normally paid during a period of suspension.

You will be invoiced for any overpayment from the date of the suspension/withdrawal.

Code of practice

The University’s Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes contains further terms and conditions for doctoral students, including the policies for medical absence and maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

How to apply for research council studentships

UK Research and Innovation has implemented a single set of terms and conditions for all research councils.

Arts and Humanities Research Council studentships

You must make an application for a place at the University before you can make an application for AHRC funding. You'll need to have made your application to study before mid-January.

Funding is offered in conjunction with the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. The Faculty of Arts website has more details.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council studentships

BBSRC is funding some studentships through the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council studentships

The EPSRC funds several types of studentship:

  1. Doctoral training account: These studentships will receive the minimum stipend rate;
  2. EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training: Either a doctoral training centre leading to a PhD or an industrial doctorate centre leading to an EngD;
  3. Industrial CASE accounts: These studentships will receive the minimum stipend rate plus a top-up from an industrial partner.

Economic and Social Research Council studentships

All ESRC studentships will be funded via the South West Doctoral Training Partnership.

Medical Research Council studentships

Make an application for a place at the University and indicate you are interested in MRC funding in the financial section of the form.

Natural Environment Research Council studentships

Make an application for a place at the University and indicate you are interested in NERC funding in the financial section of the form.

Science and Technology Facilities Council studentships

STFC only funds PhD students in Astro Physics and Particle Physics. To apply, you need to indicate on your application for a place at Bristol that you would like to be considered for funding. It can help if you contact a prospective supervisor before applying to talk about your proposal.

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