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Postgraduate fees in the UK

PLEASE NOTE: As a result of Brexit, from Autumn 2021 postgraduate students from the European Union studying at a UK university will be charged the same tuition fees as international students. Meanwhile, UK students studying their postgraduate course at a European university are also likely to incur higher tuition fees than their EU counterparts. It is advisable to check with the individual universities in the UK and Europe for up-to-date information on tuition fees for all postgraduate programs.

Postgraduate fees in the UK vary massively depending on the type of course, where you are from and a myriad of other factors. Postgraduate qualifications, typically, a Masters Degree, Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate, or a PhD, are a popular choice for many students who want to study a particular subject in greater detail. But with so many options it’s easy to get confused about how much a postgraduate degree will cost, what the course fees include and even how long the fees will take to pay. 

So, here at Postgrad, we’ve condensed all the information you need about average postgraduate fees in the UK down to one page.

Here are four of our most frequently asked questions about postgraduate fees, which hopefully will help you on your way to applying for your postgraduate degree.

1. How much will I pay?

The cost of your postgraduate program depends on two main factors; what sort of course you are doing and what country you come from. Remember to take the length of your degree into account too. 

PhDs and masters programs may seem to have similar or the same costs at first, but a PhD usually lasts three years, so you are paying three times the cost of a masters degree. For the same reason, part-time courses can sometimes work out more expensive.

Funding can come from a variety of sources including postgraduate loans, study bursaries and scholarships

How much is a masters degree in the UK?

The typical cost of a masters degree in the UK is £11,000, although fees can range from £3,000 to over £30,000 depending on the university, the subject, and the length of study. 

Non-STEM subjects, such as Arts and Humanities that are classroom-based, tend to be cheaper, and STEM subjects like Science and Healthcare are more expensive. Taught masters also differ in cost from research masters, a taught masters will be more expensive because you are charged for the price of the teaching. Specialised degrees like MBAs also tend to cost more. 

How much does a PhD cost? 

Tuition fees for PhDs vary, but the typical cost is between £3,000 and £6,000 per year for UK students. The average cost in 2021/2022 is around £4,500 per year, as this is the indicative rate set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for UK universities. 

EU and International students can expect tuition fees of between £16,000 to £24,000 per year. Non-STEM subjects will generally be at the lower end of the range, whilst STEM subjects will be at the higher end. 

Postgraduate fees

To give you some idea of tuition fees, here is a table examining how most postgraduate fees at Durham University vary according to status and course (prices are per year):




MA Courses 

£4,575 - £10,100 

£10,050 - £22,500

MSc Courses

£10,300 - £14,500

£22,250 - £28,500




(Source: Durham University)

Durham University is an elite UK university – it is in fact a member of the UK’s highly prestigious Russell Group universities, so their prices tend to lean towards the more expensive side for overseas students.

On average, UK fees for overseas postgraduates are:

• Postgraduate classroom based degree: £16,000 – £20,000 (average £18,000)

• Postgraduate laboratory based degree: £18,500 – £23,000 (average £20,750)

• Postgraduate medical degree: £7,500 – £54,500 (average £31,000)

• MBA £8,500 – £63,000 (average £35,750)

* All figures sourced from the Complete University Guide, Reddin Survey of University Tuition Fees 2021/22. All currency was rounded to the nearest £100. 

How does residency affect postgraduate fees? 

How much you pay in postgraduate tuition fees largely depends on where you are from, as well as what you are studying. As the UK government subsidises part of postgraduate fees through the Higher Education Funding Council, postgraduate fees are slightly lower for British students in British universities. 

From 2021/22, most new entrant EU students will have to pay the same fees as all other international students. Yet there are still some ways for overseas students to escape their overseas premium and pay home student fees. You can find a detailed summary of the conditions here, but the most common exceptions are:

  • You have been a permanent resident and settled in the UK for at least three years (and the main purpose of this residence was not for education).

  • You have been granted refugee status.

  • Those who have applied for asylum (including those not recognised by government legislation, still granted ‘Humanitarian Protection’).

The UK government offers hundreds of scholarships, bursaries and additional financial support to students from several countries. You can visit the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website to find out if you are eligible for a scholarship. 

Once you’ve used this guide to suss whether you have to pay Home or Overseas fees and have got an idea of the kind of fees you could pay, go to the website and prospectus of the universities you like and find out what their fees are. Almost all universities have their fees displayed on their websites, so have a search and find out! 

Many institutions also offer their own financial assistance, and you can check their websites for more information.

2. What am I paying for?

Charges levelled on you by your university usually cover most of your costs, including tuition and use of university resources. Although details vary between institutions, your money usually goes towards paying your teachers (in the case of taught courses), maintaining resources you will draw upon (such as libraries or laboratories) and other miscellaneous costs.

3. What isn't included in the course fees?

You may be expected to pay additional fees if you study a masters or PhD course that is resource intensive (especially in sciences). Laboratory fees are not uncommon and can come in anywhere from £100 to £1,000 per year. Also, course fees often do not include other necessary items such as textbooks, equipment for fieldwork and other items that add up in price.

4. How will I pay for my masters or postgraduate course fees?

Many undergraduate students in the UK have their fees directly paid by the Student Loans Company, meaning they never actually have to organise paying their tuition fees themselves. At postgraduate level however, you are expected to arrange the transfer of money for your fees yourself (unless any sponsors or scholarship committees have agreed to arrange the transfer).

The first thing to consider is that your university may ask you to make a small deposit (usually of around £500) to help clamp down on people dropping out after agreeing to a place. This may be returned to you upon enrolment or completion or discounted from your payment.

There are usually three ways of paying your fees:

  • A single payment: if you wish to pay all of your fees up front, then you can usually do so. In fact, it is encouraged or even required by some universities. Choose your method of payment carefully: you may be charged if you pay by credit card.

  • Termly payments: Many universities allow students to pay termly, so that their payments are spread across the year. This is particularly convenient for students who are reliant on scholarship payments that are spread out across the year.

  • Monthly payments: Select universities allow students to pay tuition monthly, typically by standing order or direct debit. This method may be the most convenient for you, but it can be costly if you cannot pay by standing order and have to make repeated bank transfers or credit card payments.

Please note that some universities require that you pay them from a UK bank account, and if this is the case you will need to open an account promptly before taking your place at a university. 

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