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Research Project Grants

For researchers based at universities, institutions of higher education or registered charities with university-equivalent research capacity, to undertake an innovative and original research project

Value

The maximum grant value is £500,000. 

Duration

Research Project Grants may be held for up to five years.

Before beginning your application, please read the information below.

Eligibility
Institutions

The following institutions are eligible to apply:

  • universities
  • other institutions of higher education in the UK
  • registered charities in the UK which have research capacity equivalent in standing to that of a UK university
  • institutions or organisations of similar standing in countries where the provision of research funding is seriously limited

Institutions or organisations located in the following areas are ineligible:

  • North America
  • anywhere in the European Union other than the UK
The applicant, or Principal Investigator

The applicant (Principal Investigator) must take responsibility for directing the grant, and his/her employing institution must also agree to administer the grant. 

Eligible applicants will already be employed by the eligible institution or be an academic who has maintained close links with that institution following retirement. 

Applications can be submitted by those holding contract research posts provided that their appointment continues for a period at least equal to the span of the requested award. 

Up to 3 co-applicants from the same or different institutions may also be included.

Fields of study

Applications will be considered in all subject areas except:

  • studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals
  • research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications

We exclude these areas because substantial funding is available from other sources for applied medical research; the Trust’s priority is to support investigations of a fundamental nature. 

Similarly, because of the availability of alternative sources of funding, the following types of research are also ineligible:

  • research of which advocacy forms an explicit component
  • policy-driven research where the principal objective is to assemble an evidence base for immediate policy initiatives
  • research which is aimed principally at an immediate commercial application
  • projects in which the balance between assembling a data bank or database and the related subsequent research is heavily inclined to the former
  • projects in which the main focus is on capacity building, networking, or the development of the skills of those involved

If applicants are uncertain about eligibility, they are encouraged to telephone or email the Trust before submitting an application.

What the Trust offers

Research Project Grants provide research staff costs for those working directly on the research project and associated research costs. The funds requested should be appropriate for the grant duration and the resources required to realise the project’s objectives.

Research staff costs

At least 75% of the resources requested must be used to provide funding for research staff (research assistants, doctoral students) who will each work specifically on the project with the applicant.

At least one research assistant, local researcher or PhD student must spend at least 50% of their time on the project – of all the time. 

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

Where appropriate, it is possible to employ a local researcher, if the relevant research takes place outside the UK and it is more suitable to employ personnel local to the area than a UK-based person paid to travel to the region.

The costs of one or more consultants (for a limited number of hours only over the period of the grant) may also be included if such specialist expertise is critical.

The tuition fees and maintenance costs of one or more PhD studentships may be included, provided they are set at the base rate for research council awards for UK students. PhD students registered overseas are not permitted.

Support for an overseas student registered in the UK is allowable, but requires explicit justification, addressing how their specific skills contribute to the project.

If support is requested for doctoral students, a detailed justification should be given as to why this arrangement is most appropriate for the research proposed. The Trust does not provide partial funding to continue or complete theses which have been initiated independently of a Trust-funded project.

Teaching replacement costs

The Principal Investigator and UK-based co-applicants may apply for the costs of teaching replacement. To be eligible for these, applicants must be currently employed on a continuing basis by their eligible institution. 

A maximum of one year’s (33%) teaching replacement per grant over the course of a three-year grant may be awarded, pro rata for grants of different lengths, or for those with less than full-time contracts. For example, up to 8 months teaching replacement is available on a 2-year grant, 16 months on a 4-year grant, and so on. 

The replacement should not be someone currently studying for a research degree. 

The staff replacement should normally start at the most junior point of the lecturer scale of the institution concerned.

Awards are not made to cover the salary costs of the applicant, or those of the co-applicants.

Associated research costs

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

These costs must be directly related to the research activity, e.g: 

  • necessary travel and subsistence costs - these can include conference attendance provided that such attendance can be shown to make a direct contribution to the research project
  • consumable costs connected with necessary laboratory work
  • technical or computing costs or services

Please ensure that applications do not include any ineligible costs.

Continuation funding

Applications for continuation of funding for an existing Leverhulme Research Project Grant are not eligible. 

Requests for the continuation of funding for a research assistant currently active on an existing Leverhulme Research Project Grant will not normally be considered.

The Trust’s approach to grant funding

Proposals must reflect the personal vision of the applicant and demonstrate compelling competence in the research design. 

The Trust favours applications that surmount traditional disciplinary academic boundaries and involve a willingness to take appropriate degrees of risk in setting research objectives.

Specific attention is paid to the reasons given by applicants in justifying their choice of the Trust as the most appropriate agency for the support of their project. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to consult Our approach to grant-making.

How to apply

Research Project Grants are assessed via a two-stage process.

Outline Applications

Outline Applications are welcome at any time: there are no deadlines.

Their assessment is normally completed within three months.

An invitation to progress to the second stage – preparation of a Detailed Application – will be sent to those whose Outline Application has been approved.

Before making an application, applicants are advised:

  • to read the Frequently Asked Questions, paying particular attention to the construction of the budgetary aspects of the application, and 
  • to consult with their institution’s finance office

Submitting your Outline Application

To make an application, please access 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.

Please ensure that you save a copy of your submitted Outline Application using the PDF/View options within the Grants Management System, as it will not be available after being assessed.

Feedback on applications

Unfortunately, due to the large number of applications for this scheme, it is not possible to provide feedback to individual applicants regarding unsuccessful applications.

Detailed applications

A Detailed Application is only accessible to applicants once they have received an invitation to progress from the Outline stage.

The Detailed Application should be an elaboration of the Outline Application. 

Significant changes in the stated intention, aims or objectives of the research are not permitted. 

The total budget and personnel requested in the Detailed Application should be the same as that provided in the Outline; the only budget changes that are allowable relate to adjustments in salary costs, which should conform to current pay scales.

Timings

For closing dates, see Key Dates box, above. Please note, deadlines are the same every year.

The decision dates are those anticipated, but cannot be guaranteed.

The earliest possible start dates for funded projects are as follows:

  • for the March closing date: 1 September
  • for the September closing date, 1 January
  • for the December closing date, 1 May

Current grant holders

Funded projects
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