Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Investigator Awards enable humanities and social science researchers with a compelling research vision to tackle the most significant questions in human health.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Leading a research programme

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland, Low- or middle-income countries

Level of funding:

From £250,000 to £1 million

Duration of funding:

Usually 3 to 5 years

Who can apply

You can apply for an Investigator Award if you're a humanities or social science researcher with a compelling vision who wants to tackle a significant question about human health.

If you want to apply with another person, you should apply for a Collaborative Award rather than an Investigator Award.

Career stage and experience

We consider applications from researchers throughout their careers. For example, you may be a newly appointed lecturer, a mid-career researcher or a senior researcher.

If you're in the early stages of an independent research career, you should be able to show that you can drive advances in your field of study and that you have considerable promise. You should have a strong track record relative to your career stage of:

  • developing innovative and creative research
  • making contributions to your area of research (eg publications and impacts on policy) and/or securing grant funding
  • leading or managing a research project.

If you're a more established researcher, you should have a track record of:

  • delivering innovative and creative research
  • making significant contributions to your area of research, eg publications and impacts on policy
  • securing and managing research grants or gaining similar experience in a management role (eg in an academic department or in healthcare)
  • developing and mentoring less experienced researchers.

You should have an international reputation as a research leader in your field.

If you've been away from research (eg a career break, parental leave or long-term sick leave), we'll allow for this when we consider your application.

Current situation

To be eligible, you should have:

or

  • a written guarantee of an established academic post at a host organisation, which you will take up by the start of the award.

If you don’t have this type of contract, or a written guarantee of one, you may want to consider a Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science instead.

Your research proposal

To be competitive, you must propose a compelling research vision that:

  • is both ambitious and feasible
  • transforms an area of humanities and social science related to human health
  • builds on your area of research.

Find out about the research we've funded through this scheme.

Our reviewers will assess:

  • your research vision
  • your research questions
  • the approaches you'll use
  • your track record relative to your career stage and experience
  • evidence of your expertise in your proposed area of research
  • the suitability of your research environment
  • the time you'll spend on the Investigator Award, and how it fits in with your other academic commitments.

What's expected of your host organisation

When we assess your application, we’ll look at the environment in which you propose to do your research and the support promised by your host organisation.

Statement of commitment

You must provide a statement of commitment from your host organisation with your application. It should come from the most senior authority in the relevant faculty, school or division. The statement is an opportunity to show us that the host organisation is the ideal place for your research. It should be specific to you and your research, and state:

  • why the host organisation thinks you merit an Investigator Award
  • how the host organisation will support you and your team to ensure that the ambitions of your research proposal can be achieved (including financial, technical, administrative or other assistance)
  • how your research proposal complements and addresses the host organisation’s strategic aims and priorities
  • the nature of your employment contract and its compliance with our eligibility criteria for an Investigator Award
  • that the space and resources you need have been agreed and will be made available to you from the start date through to the end date of your award.

Other schemes

Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Helping researchers develop compelling and innovative ideas that will go on to form part of larger grant applications to Wellcome or elsewhere.
Full details of Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Small Grants in Humanities and Social Science

Funding programmes of activities that enable researchers to build professional networks, develop new research agendas and increase the impact of their work.
Full details of Small Grants in Humanities and Social Science

Collaborative Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Supporting teams who are tackling major health-related questions in the humanities and social sciences that require a collaborative approach.
Full details of Collaborative Awards in Humanities and Social Science
Scheme finder

The level of funding we provide for an Investigator Award ranges from £250,000 to £1 million.

Awards usually last three to five years.

You should ask for a level and duration of funding that's justifiable for your career stage, research experience and your proposed research.

You can hold an Investigator Award on a part-time basis.

The award covers the costs of carrying out the programme, such as:

      • You can ask for salary costs of all staff, full or part time, who will work on your project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail. Staff members normally include research assistants employed on your grant. If you’re doing fieldwork or clinical studies in a low- or middle-income country, we’ll consider requests for more research staff.

        • Staff salaries should be appropriate to skills, responsibilities and expertise. You should ask your host organisation to use their salary scales to calculate these costs, which should include:

          • basic salary
          • employer's contributions, which should include any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if they’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
          • Apprentice Levy charges for UK-based salaries
          • any incremental progression up the salary scale
          • locally recognised allowances such as London allowance.

          You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed: if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate. For Year 1 include any known pay awards for this period or an assumed percentage equivalent to our current inflation rate of 2.0% if this hasn’t been confirmed.

          From Year 2 onwards, we’ll automatically increase the salaries, based on our current inflation allowance rates.

          If you are asking for a PhD Studentship(s) use the following stipend rates:

          If you're based outside London:

          • Year 1: £19,919
          • Year 2: £21,542
          • Year 3: £23,298
          • Year 4: £23,997

          If you're based in London:

          • Year 1: £22,278
          • Year 2: £24,093
          • Year 3: £26,057
          • Year 4: £26,839

          You can also ask for course fees.

          Find out more about the different staff categories and employing staff

      • Visa and work permit costs

        If you have named researchers on your grant whose salaries will be funded by Wellcome, you can ask for visa costs to help them take up their posts at the host organisation. You can also ask for:

        • Visa costs for the researcher’s partner and dependent children.
        • Immigration Health Surcharge costs for the researcher, their partner and dependent children if they will be in the UK for six months or more.
        • Essential associated costs, such as travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy. You’ll need to justify these. 
    • We will pay for the materials and consumables you need to carry out your proposed research, including:

      • archival photocopying
      • printing associated with fieldwork and empirical research
      • materials directly related to hosting workshops and interviews.
    • Equipment purchase

      You can ask for smaller items of equipment that are essential to your proposed research project. Costs may include purchase, delivery, installation, maintenance and training, where necessary.

      If you want to request larger items, please contact us before applying.

      We will cover VAT and import duties if:

      • the usual UK exemptions on equipment used for medical research don’t apply
      • you’re applying from a non-UK organisation, and you can show these costs can’t be recovered.

      Equipment maintenance

      We will cover maintenance costs for equipment if:

      • you are requesting it in your application
      • it is existing equipment that is:
        • funded by us or another source
        • essential to the proposed research project
        • more than five years old
        • cost effective to keep maintaining it.

      We won’t cover maintenance costs for equipment if there is a mechanism in place to recoup these costs through access charges.

      Computer equipment

      We will cover the cost of one personal computer or laptop per person up to £1,500.

      We won't pay for:

      • more expensive items, unless you can justify them
      • installation or training costs.
    • You can ask for the cost of access to shared equipment or facilities if they’re essential to your research project. These may include materials and consumables, plus a proportion of:

      • maintenance and service contracts
      • staff time costs for dedicated technical staff employed to operate the equipment or facility.

      We don’t cover the costs of:

      • estates and utilities
      • depreciation or insurance
      • other staff eg contributions towards departmental technical, administrative and management staff time.

      If the facilities or equipment were paid for by a Trust grant, you can only ask for access charges if:

      • the grant has ended
      • any support for running costs and maintenance contracts has ended.
    • We cover research management and support costs if:

      • your host organisation is in a low- or middle-income country.
      • your grant will be directly awarded to that organisation.

      These costs may include:

      • training costs, eg transferable skills and personal development training for you and any other people employed on your grant
      • costs for short-term professional training for administrative, technical and support staff
      • administration, eg grant management, technical and administrative services
      • other costs which are necessary for your research, eg computing and internet access costs, access to electronic resources, facility and running costs such as utilities, furniture, waste disposal and incineration, and building maintenance.

      See a list of low- and middle-income countries.

      How to apply for these costs

      You must

      • give a full breakdown of costs in your grant application form (you can't ask for a percentage of the research costs)
      • explain why these costs are necessary to your research
      • include a letter from the finance director of your host organisation with your application, confirming that the costs are a true representation of the costs incurred.
      • Travel costs

        You should use the most suitable and economical form of travel. Please include a breakdown for each part of your trip, eg air fares and number of journeys.

        Conference attendance

        You can ask for a contribution towards the costs of attending scientific and academic meetings and conferences, including registration fees. The limits are:

        • lead applicant – £2,000 a year
        • staff employed on your grant – £1,000 each a year
        • PhD studentships – up to £5,000 for each studentship

        You’ll need to specify the amount you’re requesting for each person and break down the costs into registration fees, travel, subsistence eg food and accommodation.

        Collaborative travel

        You can ask for travel and subsistence costs for collaborative visits for you and any staff employed on your grant. You’ll need to justify each visit and its duration.

        Other travel

        We may pay for other essential visits eg to facilities, libraries, archives and for fieldwork. You can include subsistence costs.

        Subsistence costs

        If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

        If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

        If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

        If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

        If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

        If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

        The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. If you need help calculating the costs please contact Grants Management.

        We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

        Overseas research

        If you or any research staff employed on your grant will be doing research away from your home laboratory, we'll help with the additional costs of working on the project overseas. Please see the 'Overseas allowances' section for details.

      • If you or any staff employed on your grant will be spending time in another country, we’ll help you with the additional costs of working on the project overseas.

        Our overseas allowances are:

        • a contribution towards the personal cost of carrying out research overseas, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged
        • provided on the assumption that you’ll be paying income tax, either in your home country, or the country you will be working in (your personal tax is your responsibility).
        • provided on the understanding that you or your partner will not receive equivalent allowances from elsewhere
        • determined by the amount of time you will spend away from your home country.
      • If you will be away more than 12 months, we will provide overseas allowances for your partner and any dependants if they are travelling with you.

        If you will be away for 12 months or less and can justify why your partner and dependants must travel with you, we may provide overseas allowances for them.

        We define your partner as the person:

        • you’re married to
        • you’re not married to but with whom you’ve been in a relationship for at least a year

        and

        • you live with at the same permanent address and share some form of joint financial commitment with (eg a mortgage).
      •  

        See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

        You can ask for the following allowances. You need to provide estimated costs as accurately as possible.

          • We will pay your travel costs at the beginning and end of your overseas work. Costs can be for air, ferry, train or coach fares.

            All fares should be:

            • economy class
            • the most suitable and economical form of travel
            • booked in advance where possible.
          • If you are away for up to 12 months, you can ask for up to 80kg of additional baggage or unaccompanied airline freight for your outward and return journeys.

            If you are away for more than 12 months, you can ask for the costs of shipping your personal items at the beginning and end of your overseas work.

            We will pay the full cost of transporting:

            • half a standard shipping container if you’re travelling alone
            • a whole standard shipping container (20ft) if you’re travelling with a partner and/or dependants.
          • We will pay the cost of your medical insurance and travel insurance.

            If you will be working in a low- or middle-income country we will also cover the cost of emergency evacuation cover.

            We won’t pay for medical insurance if you will be based in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

          • We will pay the costs of visas, vaccinations and anti-malaria treatment.

          • You can ask for this if you’ll be based in a low- or middle-income country and it is necessary.

            Costs can include guards, panic buttons and alarms. You should ask your employing organisation for advice on the level of security you need.

          • If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

            If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

            If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

            If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

            If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

            If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

            The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. If you need help calculating the costs please contact Grants Management.

            We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

          • If you’re away for more than 12 months we will pay:

            Local nursery or school fees

            You can ask for these costs if you are in a location where there isn’t free local education of the same standard as in your home country.

            Costs include:

            • local nursery school fees up to a maximum of 15 hours a week for 3 to 4 year olds
            • local junior or secondary school fees, up to the end of secondary school education.

            Local international school fees

            You can ask for these costs if local schools do not provide the same standard of education as in your home country. We will only pay the published termly school fees.

            We will not cover the costs of:

            • extracurricular activities, including field trips
            • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

            Boarding school fees

            We will consider paying the cost of boarding school fees in your home country if:

            • a local international school is not available
            • both parents, guardians or the sole care giver live outside the home country.

            The allowance covers:

            • up to a maximum of £30,000 a year for each child for the published termly fees only
            • the cost of economy class return airfares at the start and end of each school term.

            We will not cover the costs of:

            • additional annual leave airfares
            • extracurricular activities, including field trips
            • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

            We will cover the cost of providing special needs education as far as possible. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

            We would not usually expect to provide an education allowance if you will be working in a high-income country.

          • If you will be away for more than 12 months, we’ll pay for you to travel back to your home country for annual leave. This is in addition to your outward and return travel costs and depends on how long you will be away:

            • 12-24 months – 1 annual leave trip
            • 25-36 months – 2 annual leave trips
            • 37-48 months – 3 annual leave trips
            • 49-60 months – 4 annual leave trips
            • 61-72 months – 5 annual leave trips.

            All fares should be:

            • economy class
            • the most suitable and economical form of travel
            • booked in advance where possible.
          • If you will be away for more than 12 months, you can ask for up to 100 hours of lessons in the local language for you and/or your partner during the first 12 months of your visit.

            We will cover 100% of the costs for local language school classes or up to 50% of the costs of individual tuition.

            We will not cover the cost of examinations or personal learning materials such as DVDs and books.

    • We will add an inflation allowance to your award.

      How we calculate your inflation allowance

      Your inflation allowance is based on your total eligible costs and the duration of the award. You'll receive the allowance if the costs in your application are in pounds sterling, euros or US dollars.

      Our inflation allowance is increasing. The following rates apply to grants awarded from 1 October 2017:

      Award duration (in months)Inflation allowance
      0-120.0%
      13-241.0%
      25-362.0%
      37-483.0%
      49-604.1%
      61-725.1%
      73-846.2%

      These rates are calculated using compound inflation at 2.0% a year from Year 2 onwards.

      If your costs are in any other currency, we will use an inflation allowance that reflects the inflation rate of the country where the host organisation is based.

      What to include in your application

      The costs in your application must be based on current known costs, excluding inflation.

      You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed; if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate.

      The Trust’s studentship stipend scales include an annual increase for inflation.

    • You can ask for costs for page charges and/or costs for colour prints for your original research papers.

      You can also ask for the costs of publishing other material which is essential to the project, such as:

      • the proceedings of a workshop or conference we’ve funded
      • questionnaires, recruitment material, newsletters etc for clinical, epidemiological and qualitative research studies
      • the results of a clinical trial or epidemiological study
      • public engagement materials where dissemination (including printing and publishing) is a key activity of the project.

      Open access charges

      You can't ask for open access article processing charges in your application.

      If your organisation receives block funding through the UK’s Charity Open Access Fund you can ask it to cover these costs. If not, we’ll supplement your grant when your paper has been accepted for publication.

    • If you need to carry out research using NHS patients or facilities you can ask for certain research costs. Annex A of the guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD) sets out which costs you can ask us for, and which should be funded through the Department of Health in England, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you're based in the Republic of Ireland, we would expect you to adhere to the spirit of these principles.

      More information about funding for clinical trials.

    • Costs you may ask for (you will have to justify these costs in your application):

      • fieldwork costs, including survey and data collection and statistical analysis
      • specialist publications that are relevant to the research and not available in institutional libraries
      • consultancy fees
      • expenses for subjects and volunteers – includes recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel, as well as interviewee expenses
      • reasonable research-associated costs related to the feedback of health-related findings but not any healthcare-associated costs
      • costs associated with developing an outputs management plan
      • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
      • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles
      • PhD student fees for postgraduate research assistants employed on your grant
      • computing, including recurrent costs dedicated to the project (eg software licences)
      • formal transferable skills and personal development training, in addition to what we'd expect your organisation to provide.

      Costs we won’t pay:

      • estates costs – such as building and premises costs, basic services and utilities. This also includes phone, postage, photocopying and stationery, unless you can justify these within a clinical or epidemiological study.*
      • research, technical and administrative staff whose time is shared across several projects and isn’t supported by an audit record*
      • charge-out costs for major facilities* – departmental technical and administrative services, and use of existing equipment
      • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs*

      *We will fund these costs in the case of animal-related research.

      • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
      • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filing cabinets, etc.
      • clothing such as lab coats, shoes, gloves, protective clothing
      • non-research related activities, eg catering, room and venue hire for staff parties, team-building events and social activities
      • indemnity insurance (insurance cover against claims made by subjects or patients associated with a research programme)
      • ethics reviews, unless you are in a low- or middle-income country
      • radiation protection costs.
  • You can ask for funds for research or teaching replacement to cover the cost of a temporary replacement lecturer. Costs:

    • can cover up to 40% of your contracted time and up to 40% of your coapplicant's contracted time
    • are usually for a person at a more junior level than the post-holder
    • can be spread across the full period of the grant.
  • You can ask for a contribution towards the cost of hosting:

    • a conference
    • a session within a conference
    • a symposium
    • a seminar series.

    The meeting should either be:

    • for research purposes eg data gathering
    • to disseminate the findings from your research.

    The meeting should usually be based in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

    Costs can include:

    • travel and accommodation for keynote speakers
    • room hire and catering
    • event publicity conference pack publication, including name badges
    • any associated expenses that you can justify.

You can also apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in public engagement, open research, and diversity and inclusion.

What we don’t offer

This award does not include your salary costs. These must be provided by your host organisation.

We don't provide funds for directly allocated or indirect costs unless they're included on this page.

You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker (WTGT).

Start your application

Stages of application

  1. Submit your preliminary application

    You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker.

    View the sample preliminary application form for Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science [PDF 393KB]

    You don't need to contact us before you submit a preliminary application. We prefer to speak to applicants when we invite them to submit full applications.

    We'll assess your eligibility, suitability and competitiveness. 

    If suitable, we'll invite you to submit a full application. We'll contact you to give you feedback on your preliminary application and answer any questions you may have.

  2. Submit your full application

    View the sample full application form for Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science [PDF 1015KB].

  3. Review and shortlisting

    Depending on the area of your proposed research, full applications are shortlisted by either the:

    or

    If you are recommended for interview, we'll contact you with interview dates. We’ll offer you a meeting at our Wellcome offices in London to help you prepare for the interview.

  4. External peer review

    If your proposal is shortlisted, we'll ask for written comments from other expert reviewers who specialise in areas relevant to the content of the application. Unattributed comments will be sent to you before your interview.

  5. Interview

    If you're invited for interview, you'll be asked to make a ten-minute presentation to the Humanities and Social Science Selection Panel. This will be followed by questions from the panel.

    Interviews take place at the Wellcome offices in London. Please make sure you are available for all the interview dates. We will pay your travel and accommodation costs.

Dates

We consider applications twice a year. You must submit your application by 17.00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

January 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    9 January 2018, 17:00 GMT

  • Full application deadline

    23 March 2018, 17:00 GMT

  • Shortlisting

    May 2018

  • Interviews

    July 2018

July 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    4 July 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    18 September 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Shortlisting

    November 2018

  • Interviews

    January 2019

Definitions

Leading a research programme

For researchers with a PhD or the equivalent, and significant postdoctoral research experience.

UK
Republic of Ireland
Low- or middle-income countries

See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Develop your research career

See our other schemes for researchers who are interested in leading a research programme.

Key dates

We consider applications twice a year.

January 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    9 January 2018, 17:00 GMT

  • Full application deadline

    23 March 2018, 17:00 GMT

  • Shortlisting

    May 2018

  • Interviews

    July 2018

July 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    4 July 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    18 September 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Shortlisting

    November 2018

  • Interviews

    January 2019

Contact us

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.

If you have a question about the scope and content of your proposal, contact the relevant person in our Humanities and Social Science team.

People we've funded

Mary Dixon-Woods

Mary Dixon-Woods RAND Professor of Health Services Research, University of Cambridge Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Mary Dixon-Woods

I’ve had tremendous opportunities and met lots of fantastic collaborators and mentors along the way. Now I’m keen to make sure other people have the same kind of opportunities.
More case studiesList of grantholders