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Data Science MSc scholarships for underrepresented groups

Office for Students (OfS) Artificial intelligence (AI) and data science postgraduate conversion course scholarship funding

Coordinated by the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, the University of Leeds has been awarded OfS scholarships in partnership with industry, for admission to three of our Data Science related MSc programmes in September 2024.

Please see the individual programme pages below for further information on programme content:
Data Science and Analytics
Precision Medicine: Genomic Data Science
Urban Data Science and Analytics

Each scholarship is worth £10k which can be put towards course costs or living costs incurred while studying.

Please read the notes below before submitting your scholarship application.



To be eligible for scholarship funding students must meet the nationality or residency status criteria to qualify for the postgraduate masters’ loan.

The OfS scholarships aim to increase the diversity of students studying AI and data science postgraduate conversion courses. To be eligible for an OfS award, students must be from at least one of the following underrepresented groups, with priority being given to the first four groups:

  1. women
  2. black students
  3. students registered disabled
  4. students from low socioeconomic background (Index of Multiple Disadvantage quintiles 1 and 2, low household income)
  5. care experienced students
  6. estranged students
  7. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller students
  8. refugees
  9. children from military families, veterans and partners of military personnel.

The scholarships further aim to increase the supply of digitally skilled workers with priority given to applicants who did not study a closely related Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) undergraduate degree subject (such as Medical or Biological Sciences). However, please note that STEM graduates from the above 9 groups are also eligible and welcome to apply for an OfS award.

Students who do not already hold a masters degree and also meet the financial criteria for a Leeds Masters Scholarship (LMS) (worth a further £7k towards course costs or living costs) are strongly encouraged to simultaneously apply for both an LMS and OfS award giving a total financial package of £17k. However, please note students who do not meet the LMS criteria are welcome to apply for solely an OfS award.

Please note, in addition to applying for either or both scholarship awards, students must apply separately for admission to the above MSc programmes and meet their admissions criteria.


Applications for LMS and OfS scholarships open 12 noon 6th March 2024 and close 12 noon on Monday 10th June 2024.

Students from a non-STEM background may be contacted in late-June / early-July to arrange a short video call to discuss the information they have provided on their application form about their academic background and prior experience of Data Science.

Students will be notified of initial application results during the week commencing 15th July 2024 and asked to provide further evidence e.g. relating to income, care experience, estranged and refugee status as appropriate to their application. The deadline for receipt of evidence will be mid-August as communicated as part of their initial result.

Pre-sessional and on-course support

Scholarship students will be provided with a dedicated support package both prior to them commencing their chosen MSc programme and during their studies.

Pre-sessional learning will be a mixture of face-to-face and online training. It is anticipated students will need to be available for face-to-face learning from the week beginning Monday 9th September 2024. The pre-sessional learning will cover the fundamental concepts and techniques of the rapidly growing fields of data science and AI, providing a comprehensive introduction to the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this exciting and rapidly evolving area. As appropriate to their individual backgrounds, participants will learn about the key concepts and technologies involved in data science and AI, including statistical and mathematical methods, machine learning, natural language processing, and data visualisation. The pre-sessional learning will also cover practical skills and techniques, including data manipulation and analysis, programming in Python, R, and MATLAB, and building and deploying AI models.

For students from a non-STEM background, successful engagement with the pre-sessional learning may be a condition of admission to their MSc programme. Where appropriate, this will be explained in the offer letter as part of programme admission.

Pastorally, students receiving a scholarship will be enrolled on the Plus Programme on commencing their programme. Students from underrepresented backgrounds have access to targeted opportunities, funding and information which helps to build sense of belonging, increase confidence, improve outcomes and remove financial barriers.

Academically, support for students once their courses have started will build on and follow the approach started during the pre-sessional programmes. Bi-monthly sessions will be provided with focus on career and skills development. Initial sessions will operate as one-to-one drop-ins with academic staff to offer support (e.g. in module selection to meet specific student profiles and fill in skills gaps).


Does the Leeds OFS Scholarship cover fees or maintenance?

If you are successful, we will give you the option to receive your scholarship as a fee waiver or in monthly instalments directly to your bank account. There is no difference in the value of the scholarship whichever format you choose.

Remember though, you are responsible for making the arrangements to pay your fees yourself.

How will the Leeds OFS Scholarship be paid?

If you choose to receive the payments directly, the Leeds OFS Scholarship, worth £10,000, is paid in eight cash instalments of £1,250 when we have verified you as registered on your course. We pay the money directly to you from the end of October to the end of May.

If you choose to receive it as a fee waiver, we will take the money off your fee balance and you will be responsible for paying the remainder as per the normal terms and conditions of your tuition fee payments.

Do I need to have applied for my MSc course before I can apply for Leeds OFS Scholarship?

No. For applicants to the MSc Data Science & Analytics (unless you already hold an offer letter for the MSc) you will be directed to apply for admission after the scholarship application process. For applicants to the MSc Precision Medicine: Genomic Data Science or MSc Urban Data Analytics you may apply for admission either before, during or after the scholarship application process (though we would encourage you to apply for admission as soon as possible to avoid missing any deadlines).

Can I apply after the deadline? I didn’t know about the scholarship.

Applications close at 12 noon on 10th June 2024. Unfortunately we cannot accept applications after the closing date under any circumstances. This is because we shortlist applicants immediately after the application closing date.

Can EU or international students apply?

Unfortunately only students who meet the nationality or residency status criteria to qualify for the postgraduate masters’ loan may apply.

Can I apply for a Leeds OFS Scholarship if I've applied for a Postgraduate Loan from the government?

You can receive a Postgraduate Loan from the government and still apply for a Leeds OfS Scholarship. No Leeds OfS Scholarship payments (including fee waivers) are made until after you have completed registration. If you have opted not to take the Postgraduate Loan, this means you will be liable to pay at least 50% of your fees before the scholarship can be processed. Furthermore, if you opt not to take out the loan, you will not be eligible to receive support from the Financial Assistance Fund if you encounter financial hardship during your studies. Even if you intend not to take the loan, we recommend you ‘pre-apply’ for it, meaning the money can reach your account much more quickly if you encounter hardship (a fresh application can take several weeks for the money to reach you).

When will I find out if my application has been successful?

We are likely to respond to applicants by mid-July. We assess applications as quickly as possible following the closing date, however this is a lengthy and time-consuming process.

How much detail should I give in my answers?

Give as much detail as you can in your answers to make sure we can assess your application as fairly as possible.

What evidence do I need to submit and when?

We will only ask you to submit evidence to support your application if you have been provisionally selected for a scholarship or if you are a reserve candidate.

We may also ask for other evidence, depending on what else you say in your application. We will explain this clearly at the time.

Further queries

Further queries

For further queries about applying for an OfS award please contact