Research Councils

There are seven research councils in the UK providing funding opportunities that cover the full range of academic disciplines and cater to different sizes of projects. The Research Councils support major research projects and also have a keen interest in interdisciplinary collaboration.

Key councils (with a specific focus on subject areas of relevance to GLAM institutions)

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Overview

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects from history and archaeology to philosophy and languages. The AHRC also funds more contemporary research including the design and effectiveness of digital content and the impact of artificial intelligence. Their research provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

Funding remit
Programme information    
Subject coverage    

Current opportunities

Research funding guide

Funding schemes

Research Grants: variable awards from ~£50,000 up to £250,000 for early career researchers and up to £1 million for established researchers to facilitate major research projects.

Leadership Fellows Scheme: awards of £50,000-£250,000 aimed specifically at facilitating projects by individuals that will help them to become research leaders within their field.

Research Networking Scheme: small-scale grants of up to £30,000 aimed specifically at supporting interaction and discussion.

CDP (Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships) Scheme: grant funding to facilitate a studentship that is offered jointly by a Higher Education Institutions and a research-based cultural organisation. GLAM is part of the CDP scheme and hosts a number of PhD students within Oxford University Museums.

Follow on Funding: variable awards up to £100,000 aimed specifically at providing impact and public engagement with engagement activities. Note that proposals must be based upon either previous or current research directly funded by the AHRC or co-funded with another Research Council.

AHRC also offers a variety of bespoke programmes focusing on different themes or supporting new research initiatives, examples include the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to address current global development issues and the Newton Fund to strengthen partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. AHRC is a member of Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) and promotes relevant opportunities from this network.

Overview

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training. Their research is helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives and underpinning important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

Funding priorities    

Current opportunities    

Research funding guide

Public engagement with research guidance

Funding schemes

Responsive Mode Research Grants: variable awards with no set limit to facilitate major research projects 

New Investigator Scheme: variable awards to support early career researchers  through the provision of their first major grant award.

David Phillips Fellowships: provide support for researchers wishing to establish their first independent research group; awards are for 5 years up to £1 million.

Discovery Fellowships: provide support for researchers wishing to undertake independent research and gain leadership skills; awards are for 3 years up to £300,000.

Overview

ESRC is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. They support independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and civil society.

Discipline classifications

Research priorities      

Research funding guide

Current opportunities

Public engagement with research guidance

Funding schemes

Research Grants: awards of £350,000-£1,000,000 to facilitate major research projects.

New Investigator Scheme: awards of £100,000-£300,000 to support early career researchers  through the provision of their first major grant award.

ESRC also offers some small grant schemes such as the training bursaries scheme, delivered by the National Centre for Research Methods. 

Overview

The Natural Environment Research Council is the UK's largest funder of independent environmental science, training and innovation, delivered through universities and research centres. Their leading research, skills and infrastructure help solve major issues and bring benefits to the UK, such as affordable clean energy, air pollution, and resilience of our infrastructure.

Funder remit
Programme information

Current opportunities

Research funding guide

Public engagement with research guidance
 

Funding schemes

Standard Grants: variable awards  of £65,000-£800,000 to facilitate major research projects.

Independent Research Fellowships: variable awards with no set limit for individuals to facilitate major research projects within their fields.

ATSC (Advanced Training Short Courses): funding for training on relevant courses including Insect Taxonomy and Field Sampling. NB scheme paused as of Jan 2019 until further notice. ATSC listings

NERC is particularly supportive of early career researchers and in most cases funding streams are offered for Standard applications for experienced researchers and also New Investigator applications to support researchers on their first major projects. NERC offers a wide range of funding schemes including several programmes focused on innovation and knowledge sharing between institutions as well as cross-council collaboration.

Overview

STFC is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation. Their research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale.

Funder remit
Programme information
Funding calls

Research funding guide

Public engagement with research guidance

Funding schemes

Ernest Rutherford Fellowships: variable awards to allow early career researchers to undertake 5 year placements at UK institutions.

STFC also offers Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Newton Fund grants, as well as funding for public engagement initiatives.

Other UK Research Councils (covering subject areas of possible interest to GLAM institutions)

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EPSRC invests in world-leading research and postgraduate training across the engineering and physical sciences. Their research builds the knowledge and skills base needed to address scientific and technological challenges and provides a platform for future UK prosperity by contributing to a healthy, connected, resilient, productive nation. 

Programme information

Funding opportunities

Research funding guide

Public engagement with research guidance

MRC is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Their scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms.

Programme information

Funding opportunities

Research funding guide

Public engagement with research guidance
 

Non-UK Research Councils

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Overview

The ERC provides large-scale grants for major research projects within the sciences and social sciences that will take place at a host institution within EU Member States or Associated Countries. NB the following is subject to change depending on the nature of the departure of the UK from the EU. Grants are provided to individual researchers and there are varying levels of support available.

Programme information

Public engagement with research guidance

Funding schemes

Starting Grant: variable awards of up to €1.5million (~£1.3million) for early career researchers to facilitate major research projects within their fields.

Consolidator Grant: variable awards of up to €2million (~£1.8million) for established scholars facilitate and develop research teams for major research projects within their fields.

The ERC also manages the Horizon 2020 programme. Contact the University of Oxford’s Gateway to Europe team for more information.

You may also wish to use Research Professional, an online research funding database and news service which is free for everyone at Oxford.

For any research application remember that it is your responsibility to check the full guidance from the funder carefully to ensure your own eligibility, project eligibility, and current deadlines and timings.

Also remember that Research Services require at least one week before the funder deadline to process your application.