8 Free PhD Programs Online UK

I believe most people didn’t even consider online education until Covid-19 happened, and this is more true for PhD students because their program revolves around research. Even schools that shunned the idea of online learning are now at the forefront of it. Maybe we could say this is the bright side of the pandemic, right?

Online PhD will serve properly to students that won’t require to use the university’s lab and can get the work done independently without coming on-campus. And, these online programs are structured in a way that the PhD Supervisor can easily review your work and give feedback.

However, even though on-campus PhD is usually more expensive, especially for international students, not everyone can still afford the online Postgraduate degree in the United Kingdom.

Even though there are very few free PhD programs online UK (which is basically fully funded research) most of the other programmes provide scholarships that can even go as far as not only paying part or your full fee but also providing monthly or annual stipends.

Before we list these programmes, let’s first learn if a virtual PhD degree is a nice fit for you.

Benefits of Online PhD Degree in the UK

More Affordable

First of all, the tuition of a distance learning PhD programme is more affordable than an on-campus degree. Then the cost of living also adds up especially if you’re an international student.

More Flexible

You also get to perform your research at the appropriate time for you, which also helps you to have time for your other activities like job and family.

Maintain Job

If you’re already working, an online PhD will help you to remain on your job, unlike an on-campus PhD that might require you to change your city or if possible country.

This is not to say that a campus-based PhD doesn’t come with its own perks.

free PhD programs online UK

Free PhD Programs Online UK

1. The University of Edinburgh Online Programmes

The University of Edinburgh provides several online PhD programs that you can fund with scholarships. Their programmes include;

  • Applied Medical Image Analysis
  • Business Administration, Master of MBA
  • Cancer Biology and Precision Oncology
  • Conservation Medicine
  • Data and Artificial Intelligence Ethics
  • Future Governance
  • General Surgery

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2. Bournemouth University – Crime Online: Explaining Global Trends with Theory

This is one of the free PhD programs online UK that is totally free, not just that, recipients will receive a stipend of £17,668 each year to support their living costs. However, only UK citizens are eligible for this studentship opportunity.

Of course, you should know for you to be admitted to this research, you need very outstanding grades, your academic result need to be measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree or equivalent GPA or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent.

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3. University of Birmingham – PhD International Development

The University of Birmingham provides PhD International Development with scholarships that can help you to still acquire your Doctorate with less or no financial burden. They provide funding assistance for both international and their citizens. 

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4. Heriot-Watt University Online Postgraduate Programmes

Heriot-Watt University delivers 26 online PhD programmes which include;

  • Advanced Structural Engineering   
  • Applied Petroleum Geoscience   
  • Building Services Engineering   
  • Business Analytics   
  • Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying   

Most of these online PhD programs can be completed for a minimum of 2 1⁄2 years and a maximum of 8 years.

You’ll receive help to fund the programs through their several postgraduate scholarship opportunities which are categorised into SCOTTISH; England, Wales or N. Ireland; International.

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5. University of Leeds PhD by Distance Learning

The University of Leeds might not provide any free PhD programmes online in the United Kingdom, but they provide several scholarships;

  • The Postgraduate Research Scholarships
  • 10% alumni tuition fee bursary
  • Scholarships for under-represented groups
  • UK Research Council funding

And other extra financial help.

They provide different virtual PhD programmes through their Faculty of Environment and Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures.

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6. University of London – Distance Learn PhD

Here are some online PhD programmes offered at the University of London;

  • PhD at the Institute of English Studies
  • PhD at the Institute of Historical Research
  • PhD at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies
  • PhD at the Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies
  • PhD at the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • PhD at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
  • Digital Humanities PhD

Though they don’t provide any free PhD programs online UK, through their range of scholarships, fellowships, and bursaries (which you don’t need to pay back).

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7. University of Bradford – Distance Learning Research Degrees

University of Bradford ensures that their distance learning research degrees don’t demand serious lab or specialist facilities that’s why virtual PhD Programmes focus on Accounting, Finance and Economics; Business and Management; Computer Science; Development Studies; Film Studies; Health Studies; Law; Peace Studies; Psychology; Social Work and Social Care; Sociology and Criminology.

Regarding funding, the University annually provides over £4m in scholarships to help students from all backgrounds. Also, the government provides doctoral loans of up to £27,265 to help cover your course fees and living costs.

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8. University of Westminster – Research Degree by Distance Learning

Just like the other funded and free PhD programs online in the UK, we have listed, the University of Westminster’s research degree by distance learning is not offered in all schools i.e. not all programmes are offered virtually. That said, the funding assistance this university provides includes Doctoral Loans, alumni Discounts, and an Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding where you’ll access some grants from charities, trusts, and foundations.

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It is worth noting that the entry requirements, amount of work required and academic quality and expectations in these funded and free PhD programs online UK are the same as campus-based research and learning.

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