Funding for your doctorate and professional development

Looking for help covering the cost of your doctorate or supporting your professional development?

Funding is available from a range of sources, but it’s important to know where to look. Before going over some of the funds and databases available remember to:

  • Look for sources related to who you are, what research you are doing, and/or which conference you want to attend. Your chances will be highest when you best meet the funder’s objectives, so present your case in a way that clearly shows how it fits the purpose of the scheme.
  • Think about possible sources of external funding for conference attendance and professional development, bearing in mind that preference is often given to students presenting their research (rather than just wishing to attend). If you belong to a professional society or organisation, check whether it has a small grants scheme for members. There may also be funding available within your school, but this does vary between schools, so ask your Research and Enterprise Coordinators and supervisor what is available.
  • Consider gathering funding from several sources & look for ways to reduce the cost of conference attendance (e.g. booking travel in advance, looking at low cost accommodation options, attending local conferences) or to get some elements waived (e.g. by volunteering to help at the conference).

The university subscribes to two funding databases that you have access to as a Sussex student:

The Research Professional database is a comprehensive database of funding opportunities. You can create customised searches to look for funding for conferences, travel, or for research purposes. You’ll need to experiment with the categories in order to refine your search, you can then, set up e-mail alerts for the latest funding opportunities to be sent to your inbox. Remember to have a read through the guidance and check your eligibility before an application.

The Alternative Guide for Postgraduate Funding is all about alternative sources of funding – especially charities – which can make awards of between £500-2,000. The Guide contains comprehensive guidance written by successful applicants, and numerous tools to help you prepare a winning grant application. The way you apply to charities is a little different, but the guide provides advice on each stage.


Looking to present at an overseas conference, deliver a public engagement initiative, or organise your own professional development activity?

The Doctoral School administers a number of funds that you may be interested in:

The Researcher Led Initiative (RLI) Fund supports doctoral researchers and early career researchers to organise short term, well defined activities at Sussex that will enhance their professional and research skills. You can apply for up to £1,000 and seek funding for activities which expand or build on current provision for researchers.

The Sussex Fund Doctoral Overseas Conference (DOC) Grant supports University of Sussex doctoral researchers who are presenting their research at an overseas conference. Doctoral researchers are able to apply for up to £1,000 for funding to cover accommodation, travel and registration fees.

The Public Engagement Fund is a pilot scheme to encourage doctoral and early career researchers interested in delivering public engagement activity. The aim of the scheme is to build on the success of recent doctoral and early career researchers in securing public engagement funding and to encourage more researchers to work in this way.

We hope that this is enough information to help get you started on covering the cost of your doctorate or supporting your professional development. Make sure to explore all the options that might work for you!