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Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Research

The School of Arts and Humanities and the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Studying at Cambridge

 

Research Grant Schemes

Grant schemes differ between funding bodies with regard to size, duration, subject limitations and possibilities for international collaboration. The following table provides a crude breakdown of the most common and substantial schemes in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Please note that various of the schemes lend themselves to be applied to in parallel or in succession. To discuss these possibilities please contact the Research Facilitators. You can find more details about each scheme by clicking on the scheme name in the table.

For grant schemes open to early career researchers up to eight years after receiving their PhD please click here and consult the overview of funding options broken down by the criterium 'time since PhD'.

 

For applications for AHRC and ESRC please find here Cambridge-internal advice for applicants by official peer reviewers:

AHRC guidance for applicants                               ESRC guidance for applicants                                        

 

For the split of subjects between Research Councils please refer to the agreement between AHRC and ESRC.  

 

Scheme (click for more information)DurationFunding amountfEC?Subject limitationsInternational collaboration
AHRC Standard Grant up to 5 years £50,000-£1million yes (80%) main focus arts and humanities and interdisciplinary with other subject areas up to 30 percent of project funding
ESRC Standard Grant  up to 5 years £350k-£1million yes (80%) main focus social sciences and interdisciplinary with other subject areas up to 30 percent of project funding
ESRC Centres and Large Grants up to 5 years up to £10million yes (80%) highlight notices with responsive mode element (in effect heavily thematic) up to 30 percent of project funding
Leverhulme Project Grant 2-3 years (exceptionally up to 5 years) up to £500,000 no any subject area on advisory board or as workshop participants

ERC Starting Grant

 

up to 5 years up to €1.5million (pro rate) yes (100% direct costs; 25% indirects) any subject area none necessary
ERC Consolidator Grant up to 5 years up to €2million (pro rata) yes (100% direct costs; 25% indirects) any subject area none necessary
ERC Advanced Grant up to 5 years up to €2.5million (pro rata) yes (100% direct costs; 25% indirects) any subject area none necessary

ERC Synergy Grant

 

up to 6 years up €10million (pro rata) yes (100% direct costs; 25% indirects) any subject area
ORA         (via ESRC)  2-3 years up to £750,000 for UK component alone plus funding limits of other funding councils yes (80%) social sciences yes, with partners from at least three European project countries
HERA          (via AHRC) 3 years up to £1million for all components together yes (80%) arts and humanities yes, with partners from at least three European project countries
Wellcome Trust Collaborative Awards up to five years

normally not more than £2million

no social, cultural and historical contexts of medicine, health and wellbeing; or also linking with biomedical sciences (with funding up to £4million) yes
Wellcome Trust Investigator Award up to 5 years up to £1million no social, cultural and historical contexts of medicine, health and wellbeing yes
Nuffield Foundation not specified up to £250,000 no legal and institutional matters regarding children and family; law in society; education; and other projects improving social wellbeing in the UK  yes, with European and Commonwealth partners only
Gerda Henkel Foundation up to 2 years no limit but usually around £100,000 no mainly historical humanities

 

 

AHRC Standard Grants

Funding: £50,000 to £1 million at 100% full economic cost (fEC)

Duration: Up to five years.

Timetable: Applications may be submitted at any time – allowing time for processing. The majority of decisions are announced within 30 weeks of submission.

Eligibility: Applications is for any type of ‘blue-sky’ or applied research. At the time of application, applicant PIs must have either a contract of employment with their research organisation in place for the duration of the award, or an assurance from the submitting institution that, if the proposal is successful, a contract of employment will be given that covers the period of the award plus an additional 3-6 months. This scheme in particular lends itself to un-established researchers to apply as co-investigator or postdoctoral research associate.

Scheme website            

           

ESRC Standard Grants

Funding: Grants range from £350,000 to £1 million at 100% full economic costs (fEC).

Duration: Up to five years

Timetable: Applications may be submitted at any time – allowing time for processing. The majority of decisions are announced within 26 weeks of submission.

Eligibility: Applications can be for ‘blue sky’, strategic or applied research, and the ESRC is keen to encourage fresh ideas from new researchers. At the time of application, applicant PIs must either have a contract of employment with their research organisation in place for the duration of the award, or an assurance from the submitting institution that, if the proposal is successful, a contract of employment will be given that covers the period of the award plus an additional 3-6 months. This scheme lends itself for un-established researchers particularly to apply as co-investigator or postdocs.

Scheme website    

  

ESRC Centres and Large Grants

Funding: Up to £10 million at 100% full economic costs (fEC).

Duration: Up to five years.

Timetable: Near annual calls 

Eligibility: Applications are usually invited for particular 'highlight notices' that are a strong strategic steer by ESRC. Although there is a responsive mode element to the call awards predominantly reflect the highlight notices. At the time of application, applicant PIs must either have a contract of employment with their research organisation in place for the duration of the award, or an assurance from the submitting institution that, if the proposal is successful, a contract of employment will be given that covers the period of the award plus an additional 3-6 months.

Scheme website

 

Leverhulme Research Project Grants

Funding:  Up to a maximum of £500,000. However, in practice, the great majority of these grants are awarded for sums of up to £250,000 over a duration of two to three years (an average award is around £150,000). 

Duration: Up to five years

Timetable: Research Project Grants are assessed via a two-stage process. In the first stage, applicants should complete an Outline Application form. Outline Applications can be submitted at any time and their assessment is normally completed within three months. Details of the procedure for the second stage, namely preparation of a Detailed Application will be sent to those whose Outline Application has been approved.

Aims: The aim of these awards is to provide financial support for innovative and original research projects of high quality and potential. The grants provide support for the salaries of research staff engaged on the project, plus associated costs directly related to the research proposed, and the award is paid directly to the institution at which the applicant is employed.  

Proposals are favoured which:  

  • reflect the personal vision of the applicant;
  • demonstrate compelling competence in the research design;
  • surmount traditional disciplinary academic boundaries;
  • involve a willingness to take appropriate degrees of risk in setting research objectives.   

Applicants are therefore strongly advised to consult the statement on the Leverhulme Trust’s approach to grant-making.

Eligibility: The Trust does not fund research which is of direct relevance to clinicians, medical professionals and/or the pharmaceutical industry.  

Scheme website

 

European Research Council Starting Grant (ERC StG)

Funding: Up to €1.5million (with an additional €500,000 available for certain circumstances as a one-off cost). 

Duration: Up to five years.

Eligibility:  Candidates can be any age and of any nationality, though must have obtained their PhD more than two years but less than seven years before the 1st January of the Work Programme year. For researchers who are seven-twelve years post-PhD, the ERC runs the Consolidator Grant scheme. 

Purpose: ERC Starting Grants are designed to support outstanding early-career researchers in all disciplines who are beginning to create their own independent research team or programme. The aim is to fund projects carried out by individual teams which are headed by a single Principal Investigator (PI) and, as necessary, include additional team-members. The constitution of the research team is flexible.

A competitive Starting Grant Principal Investigator must have already shown the potential for research independence. For example, it is expected that applicants will have produced at least one important publication without the participation of their PhD supervisor. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate a promising track-record of early achievements appropriate to their research field and career stage, including significant publications (as main author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journals, or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals of their respective field. They may also demonstrate a record of invited presentations in well-established international conferences, granted patents, awards, prizes etc.

Scheme website

Cambridge AHSS ERC information

 

European Research Council Consolidator Grant (ERC ConG)

Limit of Funding and Duration: up to €2 million (with an additional €750,000 available for certain circumstances).  

Duration: Up to five years.

Eligibility:  Candidates can be any age and of any nationality, though must have obtained their PhD more than seven years but less than twelve years before the 1st January of the Work Programme year. For researchers who are more than twelve years post-PhD, the ERC's Advanced Grant scheme (see below) may be appropriate. 

Purpose: 

ERC Consolidator Grants are designed to support outstanding mid-career researchers in all disciplines who have already created their own independent research team or programme. The aim is to fund projects carried out by individual teams which are headed by a single Principal Investigator (PI) and, as necessary, include additional team-members. The constitution of the research team is flexible.

A competitive Consolidator Grant Principal Investigator must have already demonstrated the research independence. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate a promising track-record of achievements appropriate to their research field and career stage, including significant publications (as main author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journals, or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals of their respective field. They may also demonstrate a record of invited presentations in well-established international conferences, granted patents, awards, prizes etc. 

Scheme website

Cambridge AHSS ERC information

 

European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant (ERC AdG)

Limit of Funding and Duration: up to €2.5 million (with an additional €1 million available for certain circumstances).  

Duration: Up to five years.

Eligibility:  Candidates can be any age and of any nationality. Candidates are expected to have a track record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years. 

Purpose: ERC Advanced Grants are designed to support outstanding established, leading researchers in all disciplines who require long-term funding to pursue a ground-breaking, high-risk project. The aim is to fund projects carried out by individual teams headed by a single Principal Investigator (PI) and, as necessary, include additional team-members. The constitution of the research team is flexible.

A competitive Advanced Grant Principal Investigator should be an exceptional research leader in terms of the originality and significance of their research contributions.   

Scheme website

Cambridge AHSS ERC information

 

European Research Council Synergy Grant (ERC SynG)

Limit of Funding and Duration: up to €10million and up to six years. 

Purpose: This scheme is not currently running but is intended to enable a small group of Principal Investigators (between 2 and 4) and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address research problems 

Scheme Website: Click https://erc.europa.eu/funding/synergy-grants

 

Open Research Area for the Social Sciences (ORA via ESRC)

Funding and Duration: For the 2017 call, the UK component of projects could request up to £600,000 at 100% fEC (£480,000 at 80% fEC), with a minimum of £200,000 per project.     

Duration: Two to three years.

Purpose: ORA funds collaborative, international projects in the social sciences. The ESRC works in conjunction with the national funding agencies of France (ANR), Germany (DFG), and the Netherlands (NWO). Projects must include PIs from at least 3 countries (so the UK plus at least 2 others).  

Scheme website

 

Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA via AHRC)

Funding: Varies according to specific call  

Duration: Varies according to specific call

Purpose: These are collaborative research projects that are launched every 2/3 years under specific, humanities based themes. 

View a detailed presentation about the scheme here.  

Scheme website

 

Wellcome Trust Collaborative Awards

Funding: Up to £2million (usually around £1 million - £1.5 million). 

Duration: Up to five years.

Discipline: The Wellcome Trust funds research in social, cultural and historical contexts of medicine, health and wellbeing.  Please note that the same scheme exists also for biomedical/clinical sciences and can include social scientists with the same proviso as above but with funding of up to £4 million.

Purpose: To support large collaborative research projects of teams with outstanding research track records (usually 2-6 PI/Co-Is with track record of collaboration) with funding for anything that a team might require in terms of research expenses and support.

Eligibility: Applicants should have an established academic post. Candidates and their proposed teams should have an outstanding research track record. Host institutions should state their institutional support, access to required space and any other additional means in support of the project.  two stage application process; details to follow but first call opens in the new year.

Timetable: There are two funding rounds per year. Outline applications in January and July, full applications in September and March/April, followed by an interview.

Scheme websites

 

Wellcome Trust Investigator Awards - 'Humanities and Social Sciences'

Funding: Between £100,000 and £200,000 per year. The award covers research expenses (including research assistance), travel and subsistence and funding for collaborative activity, capacity-building initiatives, public engagement initiatives and resarch leave, symposia and dissemination activities. Salary costs are not included.

Duration: Up to five years.

Discipline: The Wellcome Trust funds research in social, cultural and historical contexts of medicine, health and wellbeing. You can find a presentation of the Wellcome Trust at the University of Cambridge about these funding areas in July 2013 by following this link. Please also read the Wellcome Trust Strategic Plan for further information.

Purpose: To support leading researchers to follow a compelling long-term vision for their research.

Eligibility: Applicants must be in an established academic post (i.e. in an open-ended contract). Candidates are expected to have a strong, internationally competitive track record with publications that make a significant intellectual contribution to research with a strong track record of attracting sustained and substantial research grant support from major funding bodies.

Timetable: There are two rounds per year. Both have an outline stage with deadlines in either January or July and a full application stage with corresponding deadlines of April and September. Final decisions about awards are communicated around four months after the deadline of the full applications.

Number of Fellowships: around 8 awards per annum UK-wide 

Scheme website

 

The Nuffield Foundation Grants for Research and Innovation

Limit of funding and duration: Grants normally range from £10,000 to £250,000, although the majority are worth between £50,000 and £150,000.

Purpose: Grants will support research, practical experiments or development work in the following areas:

  • children and families – helps to ensure that the legal and institutional framework is best adapted to meet the needs of children and families;
  • education – supports innovative research and development in specific priority areas;
  • law in society – promotes access to and understanding of the civil justice system;
  • open door – for projects that improve social wellbeing and meet trustees’ wider interests but lie outside other programme areas.

The foundation will not fund organisations outside the UK or projects that take place outside the UK. Collaboration with partners in European or Commonwealth countries is permitted. 

Timetable: The scheme operates a two-stage process with deadlines for outline applications in late October/early November, mid-March and early July of each year; full applications are due in early January, early May and late August.

Scheme website: click here.

 

The Gerda Henkel Foundation Research Projects

Basic Programme: Research Grants and Scholarships

The Foundation is looking to support projects in the following subject areas:

  • History
  • Prehistory and Early History
  • Archaeology
  • Art History
  • Historic Islamic Studies
  • Legal History
  • History of Science

The grants for research projects involve, depending on the type of project, the assumption of costs for personnel, travel, materials and/or other costs. There is no maximum funding level given, though applications would tend to be around €100,000 per project.

Details of what the Foundation does and does not cover 

Although proposals can be submitted under the basic programme at any time, the deadline for the Foundation committee’s autumn meeting is towards the end of June every year. Applications have to be in the Foundation's office by this day. The date of the postmark is not valid.

The Foundation committees usually hold their meeting in November meaning that, if your application is successful, funding can start in December at the very earliest.

View details of the application procedure 

 

Special Thematic Programme #1: Security, Society, and the State

The Foundation is looking to support projects under the following five headings:

  1. Cyber Security as a Governmental Task
  2. Public Administration and Human Security
  3. Patterns of Conflict Resolution between the State and Traditional Actors
  4. Non-Governmental Actors as Partners and Contenders of the State
  5. Security Strategies between Doctrine Formation and Implementation

View a full description of these themes  

The maximum amount of funding is €100,000 per project application.

View details of the application procedure  

 

Special Thematic Programme #2: Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements

The foundation is looking to support projects under the following five headings:

  1. Historical and present day Islamic systems of society and state
  2. The concept of nation, national movements and nationalism in Islamic civilisation
  3. Islamic fundamentalism or Islamic emancipation?
  4. Transnational civil society movements in the Islamic world
  5. Islamic states in the international world system

View a full description of these themes

There is no maximum funding level given, though applications would tend to be around €100,000 per project.

View details of the application procedure