Postgraduate research: money matters

When and how to pay your tuition fee

From payment deadlines, links to our online payment portals and advice on sponsorship, tuition fee loans and debts - everything you need to know about paying your tuition fees.

Find out more information on how you can pay your fees

Postgraduate Masters Loans (PGML)

A postgraduate masters loan is funding to help with course and living costs whilst studying a postgraduate masters-level course.

When the programme started Maximum loan fee amount
On or after 1 August 2019 £10,906
On or after 1 August 2020 £11,222
The loan is paid directly to you as a contribution towards the cost of postgraduate studies and can be spent on tuition fees, accommodation, books, general living expenses etc.

Am I eligible?

You must be under the age of 60 at the commencement of the course

Loans are available for both full-time and part-time study.

You'll need to meet certain residency criteria (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales resident students are not currently eligible) –
Masters courses covered include:

  • MSc (Master of Science)
  • MA (Master of Art)
  • MPhil (Master of Philosophy)
  • MRes (Master of Research)
  • ResM (Research Masters)
  • LLM (Master of Law)
  • MLitt (Master of Letters)
  • MFA (Master of Fine Arts)
  • MEd (Master of Education)
  • MBA (Master of Business Administration).
Postgraduate loans are not available if you have an equivalent or higher level qualification already with the exception of PgDip or PGCE).

Other exclusions

You'll not be eligible for PGL if you have outstanding student loan arrears or have previously been found to be ‘unfit’ for student support (e.g. because of attempted fraud).

You must register for the full 180 credits in order to receive the loan. Prior Accredited learning cannot be used to reduce the number of credits taken.

How do I apply for a loan?

You can apply online for a loan to Student Finance England from late June 2019 online at Applications can be made up to nine months after the start date of the programme. Where the course lasts two years or more, applications can be submitted up to nine months after the start date of the second academic year. You can request that the amount of the loan be changed up to one month before the programme end date.

When will I receive the loan proceeds?

You must firstly be registered on the programme of study. Payment is made into your UK bank account in three termly instalments during the academic year. If the programme is longer than one year you can apply for up to £5,453 in the first year and the remainder in year two. If you are studying on a part-time basis your payments will be spread across all years of your programme, in accordance with the length of study stated in your loan.

  • 1st instalment of 33% – payment is due on the start date of the programme
  • 2nd instalment of 33% – payment is due on the last Wednesday of the fourth month of the programme. For September starters payment will be received in late December.
  • 3rd instalment of 34% – payment is due on the last Wednesday of the seventh month of the programme. For September starters payment will be received in late March. 

When am I expected to repay the loan and what interest rate will I be charged?

The loan is repayable but not until you have left or finished your course and your income is over £21,000 a year. Postgraduate loans will be repaid under income contingent repayment terms. The repayment terms differ from those that apply to undergraduate student loans. Interest will accrue at a rate of RPI + 3% on all outstanding PGL balances.

Visit a student loan repayment website for more information about repaying a postgraduate loan.

Further information

Funding for care leavers

If you're a care leaver there are lots of extra funding options to help you to pay for your studies.

Find out more on our care leavers page

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans (PGDL)


The government has announced the introduction of new doctoral loans worth up to £25,700 for new PhD students available from 2019/20. 

The loan can be spent on fees, study-related costs or to help cover living expenses. 

Am I eligible?

  • You must be aged 59 or under at the commencement of the course
  • You must be a UK national ordinarily resident in England
  • Your programme must last between three and eight years.

Most PhD programmes, Professional Doctorates and PhDs 'upgraded' from Master of Philosophy (MPhil) will be eligible, provided they are hosted by a UK university.

PhD loans are not available if you began your PhD before 2018/19.

Other exclusions:

You’ll not be eligible for a PhD loan if you already hold a PhD or equivalent qualification or are receiving a Research Council studentship (including fees-only), NHS funding or other government finance towards your PhD.

How do I apply for a loan?

Details of how to apply will be made available in spring/summer 2019 before applications open for the 2019/20 academic year.

Details of repayment requirements and the interest rate payable

Repayments will start once you have completed your PhD. You’ll pay at a rate of 6% of your income once you're earning at least £21,000 per year.

Further information

Postgraduate master's loan explained 2019/20

Thinking of starting a postgraduate master’s course this year? You could get help to pay for your course and living costs. This film created by Student Finance England explains what you can get. For more information go to the website

Postgraduate doctoral loan explained 2019/20

Find out about what help you can get if you’re applying for a postgraduate doctoral course by viewing this video created by


View a full listing of current studentships available at the University of Plymouth.

Additional fees

Some research programmes have additional fees to cover student training, laboratory costs and other resources. These are sometimes called 'Bench fees' or ‘RTSG – Research Training Support Grant’. If you have any questions about these additional fees, please contact the Doctoral College at

Living expenses

Accommodation, meals and other personal expenditure are not included in fees. We recommend a minimum maintenance allowance of at least £9,750 each year for a single student (for the full calendar year) and more for students with families or dependants.

Please note: Fees may be increased by up to 5% per annum in accordance with, and if so permitted by changes in, legislation or government policy. For further information on current tuition fees in general and any proposed increases in particular, please visit our fees and funding pages.

Postgraduate research degrees

Find out more about the research degrees we offer, our areas of expertise and supervision, what studentships are available and how to apply.

You will join a vibrant, supportive and forward-thinking community, that is committed to meeting global challenges in creative and imaginative ways.

Explore the opportunities available to you