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Research Leadership Awards

For talented scholars who have launched a university career but who need to build a team to address a distinct research problem

The aim is to support talented scholars who have successfully launched a university career but who need to build a research team of sufficient scale to tackle a distinctive research problem. This creates an opportunity for the development and demonstration of research leadership; that is, for the direction of a modest team or group, whose research may significantly change the established landscape in a particular field of inquiry.

Each institution is limited to one bid only. 


The awards will be for up to £1 million, for staff salaries and associated costs.


Each grant runs over a period of 4 to 5 years.

Before beginning your application, please read the information below.


To be eligible to apply for the Research Leadership Awards scheme you must at the time of application:

  • Have had at least 2 years full-time or equivalent experience in a research and/or teaching post in a university after the date of your PhD award
  • Be at an early stage of your academic career such that the trajectory of your research contribution has not become firmly established
  • Have a contract with a university in the UK that extends beyond the end of the grant award (i.e. beyond 2027 for 4 year awards and 2028 for 5 year awards)

Please note: the competition is not aimed at candidates who are established professors, senior staff who already have a portfolio of grant funding or those that already lead a team.


Proposals are welcome in any research area, with the exception of the following: 

  • studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals*
  • research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications*
  • research areas currently identified as a priority by the research councils or other significant public funders
  • policy-driven research where the principal objective is to assemble an evidence base for immediate policy initiatives
  • research where advocacy is an explicit component
  • research aimed principally at an immediate commercial application
  • proposals in which the balance between assembling a data bank or database and the related subsequent research is heavily inclined to the former

*Excluded because substantial funding is available from other sources for applied medical research, and the Trust’s priority is to support investigations of a fundamental nature.

What the Trust offers

Support for research staff and students

At least 75% of the resources requested must be used to provide funding for research staff (research assistants; postgraduate students).

Research assistants should have a research degree or equivalent research experience.

The tuition fees and maintenance costs of a PhD studentship or studentships may be included, provided they are set at the base rate for Research Council awards for UK students. Support for an overseas student is allowable, but requires explicit justification, addressing how their specific skills are to contribute to the project. The additional costs of overseas student fees will need to be waived or covered by the institution.

There will be no provision for:

  • the salary costs of the Principal Applicant
  • replacement teaching
  • overhead expenditures

Associated research costs

These can be included up to a maximum of 25% of the total budget. This percentage is a maximum and not a target. 

The following are examples of such eligible costs:

  • technical, computing, clerical staff costs
  • travel and subsistence costs directly related to the research activity. These can include conference attendance provided that such attendance can be shown to make a direct contribution to the research project
  • consumable costs
How to apply

Please note that each institution is limited to one bid only. 

Once a university has selected their chosen candidate, they should send the applicant’s name, departmental affiliation and email address to Katharyn Lanaro at grants@leverhulme.ac.uk. Access will then be granted to the Leverhulme Trust Grants Management System. The recommended browser to use is Google Chrome.

When completing the application form, please refer to the  Application Help Notes

Current grant holders

Funded projects
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