Research Fellowships in Humanities and Social Science

This scheme supports humanities researchers and social scientists who want to explore areas of health but do not hold established academic posts.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Early, Intermediate, Returning to research

Level of funding:

Salary and research expenses covered

Duration of funding:

Up to 3 years

Contact us

About your eligibility, the application process, funding policies or general queries about grants:

About the scope and content of your proposal only:

About our online application system:

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Getting here

Key dates

We consider applications twice a year.

January 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    22 January 2016

  • Full application deadline

    30 March 2016

  • Shortlisting

    May 2016

  • Interviews

    July 2016

July 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    6 July 2016

  • Full application deadline

    20 September 2016

  • Shortlisting

    November 2016

  • Interviews

    January 2017

People we've funded

Christine Knight

Wellcome supports you – basically to be a bit eccentric and creative in whatever way suits you best. 

Christine Knight

More case studiesList of grantholders

Eligibility and suitability

Who can apply

You can apply for a Research Fellowship if you're:

  • a postdoctoral researcher who wants to carry out an extended period of enquiry on your own project
  • not in a tenured or long-term established post (including a rolling contract)
  • based (or plan to be based) in the UK, Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country.

Go to the World Bank website to see a list of low- and middle-income countries.

You must have sponsorship from an eligible host organisation.

In most cases, applicants should have been awarded a PhD before they apply.

What we're looking for

Our reviewers will assess:

  • the significance of your proposed research
  • the strength of your approach
  • your track record
  • the suitability of the host environment for your research and for the development of your independent career.

Most successful applicants will be pursuing university research careers. But we also encourage researchers who want to follow health-related research careers elsewhere. 

What's expected of your host organisation

You must have an eligible sponsoring organisation that will administer your fellowship for the full duration of the award. You should give careful thought to your choice of sponsor and supervisor/research mentor; they should have strong track records in research, training and mentorship.

Your sponsor should be based at an eligible sponsoring organisation that will administer your fellowship for the full duration of the award. The sponsor should hold an established post and be in a position to guarantee you space and facilities for the full period of the fellowship.

Your supervisor or research mentor should:

  • provide support and advice during the application process and the period of the award
  • be committed to helping you achieve your career aspirations.

Your sponsor can also be your research sponsor or mentor.

Other schemes

Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

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

Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Offering flexible funding support to researchers in established posts at all career stages working on important questions of relevance to health.
Full details of Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Research Awards for Health Professionals

Offering practising health professionals the opportunity to carry out humanities or social science research, in any area of health.
Full details of Research Awards for Health Professionals
Scheme finder

What we offer

A Research Fellowship is for up to three years, or you can hold it part-time over a longer period.

Support includes:

  • a basic salary (determined by your host organisation)

    We will fund the total cost of your salary for the entire period of the grant.

    You should ask your host organisation to calculate this. It should reflect the skills, responsibilities and expertise needed to carry out the role, and include:

    • your basic salary
    • employer’s contributions, including any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if you’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
    • 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 1.6% if this hasn’t been confirmed.

    From Year 2 onwards, we will automatically increase your salary, based on our current inflation allowance rates.

  • personal removal expenses

    If you have to move to take up the post at your host organisation, you can ask for £1,000. You'll need to justify this.

  • research expenses
    • staff

      In exceptional circumstances, you can ask for funding for a research assistant or technician to work full-time or part-time on your project. This will usually be one post, but if you’re doing fieldwork or clinical studies in a low- or middle-income country, we’ll consider requests for more research staff.

      How to cost salaries for 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, including any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if you’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
      • 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 1.6% if this hasn’t been confirmed.

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

      Find out more about the different staff categories and employing staff.

      We may make a contribution towards the salary of departmental technicians funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and its equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You will need to provide a full audit record of their time on your project.

    • materials and consumables

      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

      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 equipment we have already funded and the original award used to purchase the equipment has ended
      • it is equipment we have already funded, it is over five years old, and it’s cost effective to keep maintaining it
      • it is equipment funded by another source and you are applying from an organisation in a low- or middle-income country.

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

    • access charges

      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.
    • travel and subsistence

      Travel costs

      You can ask for travel and subsistence costs to cover:

      • any fieldwork you carry out during the grant
      • essential visits to archives and libraries
      • any collaborative visits for you and any staff employed on your grant.

      You’ll need to justify each visit and its duration.

      Conference attendance

      You can ask for a contribution of up to £2,000 a year towards the costs of attending scientific and academic meetings and conferences, including registration fees.

      Overseas research

      If you will be doing research away from your host organisation, you can ask for:

      • outward and return travel costs
      • subsistence costs if you’ll be away from your host organisation for less than 12 months (see below for more information)
      • overseas allowances if you’ll be away from your host organisation for 12 months or more.

      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.

      Subsistence costs

      If you're working overseas or away from your host organisation for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs.

      These include a daily allowance for living expenses.

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

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

      You can ask for:

      • outward and return airfares

        We will pay the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, and if justified, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance

        We will pay up to 80kg of additional airline baggage or unaccompanied airline freight for your outward and return journey.

      • health insurance (if you will be based outside the UK or Republic of Ireland)

        Your health insurance should be comprehensive and include emergency evacuation cover (if necessary) for you, your partner and dependent children.

      • visa/vaccination costs and any anti-malarial treatment for you, your partner and dependent children

      If you're away for more than one month but less than 12 months, you can also ask for:

      • reasonable actual rental costs (instead of subsistence)

      • housing security costs

        You can ask for these if you'll be based in a low- or middle-income country and they are necessary. Costs include guards, panic buttons and alarms. You should ask your employer for advice on the level of costs.

      If you're away for more than one month, receive a salary from an organisation in a low- or middle-income country and will be based in a high-income country, you can also ask for:

      • up to £20 a day to cover any extra costs, eg transport.

    • overseas allowances

      If you or any staff will be spending 12 months or more in another country, we’ll help you with the costs of working on the project overseas.

      Our overseas allowances are based 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.

      We have 4 categories of allowances for this scheme:

      1. You are employed in the UK and will be working in a low- or middle-income country, including one of our Major Overseas Programmes (MOPs)

      You need to provide the following costs, as accurately as possible.

      • outward and return airfares

        We will pay the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance up to £8,000 (£4,000 each way)

      • BUPA Worldwide Medical Insurance with the Option of Worldwide Medical Plus, including emergency evacuation cover for you and your family

      • visa/vaccination costs and anti-malarial treatment for you, your partner and dependent children

      • a contribution towards housing costs

        Up to:

        • £3,000 a year if you are single
        • £4,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £5,000 a year if your children are travelling with you

        If you will be working at one of the MOPs you can ask for a higher contribution. You should ask the MOP administrators for advice on the level of costs you can ask for.

      • housing security costs

      • education allowance

        We will give you an education allowance if you will:

        • have dependent children travelling with you 
        • be working in a location where there isn’t a free education in English of the same standard as the UK.

        The allowance covers:

        • 90% of nursery school fees for 3 to 4 year olds up to a maximum of 15 hours a week
        • 90% of local junior school fees
        • 90% of local secondary school fees
        • 90% of UK boarding school fees if both parents and/or guardians will be living outside the UK                   
        • economy class return airfares for any children at a UK boarding school, at the beginning and end of each school term.

        The allowance doesn’t cover:

        • education costs for your children over the age of 18, once they have finished secondary school, eg university fees.
      • annual leave airfares

        If you are spending two or more years in another country, we’ll pay a contribution towards annual leave airfares for you, your partner and dependent children to return to the UK.

        The number of return flights we’ll pay for depends on how long you’ll be spending overseas:

        • 24-35 months: 1 annual leave flight
        • 36-47 months: 2 annual leave flights
        • 48-59 months: 3 annual leave flights

        Flights should be economy class.

      2. You are employed in the UK and will be working in a high-income country

      You need to provide the costs for outward and return airfares, health insurance and education allowance if you need them. These should be as accurate as possible. We will work out the other costs.

      • outward and return airfares

        Your funds can cover the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance up to £8,000 (£4,000 each way)

      • BUPA Worldwide Medical Insurance with the Option of Worldwide Medical Plus for you and your family

      • a contribution of £200 towards visa/vaccination costs for you, your partner and dependent children

      • a contribution towards housing costs

        Up to:

        • £3,000 a year if you are single
        • £4,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £5,000 a year if your children are travelling with you
      • education allowance

        You can use the funds to cover an education allowance if you will:

        • have dependent children travelling with you 
        • be working in a location where there isn’t a free education in English of the same standard as the UK.

        The allowance can cover:

        • 90% of nursery school fees for 3 to 4 year olds up to a maximum of 15 hours a week
        • 90% of local junior school fees
        • 90% of local secondary school fees
        • 90% of UK boarding school fees if both parents and/or guardians will be living outside the UK                   
        • economy class return airfares for any children at a UK boarding school, at the beginning and end of each school term.

        The allowance can't cover education costs:

        • if you'll be working in an English-speaking high-income country as you will usually have access to suitable public/state schools for your children
        • education costs for your children over the age of 18, once they have finished secondary school, eg university fees.
      • annual leave airfares

        If you are spending two or more years in another country, you can use some of your funds towards annual leave airfares for you, your partner and dependent children to return to the UK.

        The rates are:

        • £500 a year if you are single
        • £1,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £1,300 a year if your children are travelling with you

        The number of return flights it can cover depends on how long you’ll be spending overseas:

        • 24-35 months: 1 annual leave flight
        • 36-47 months: 2 annual leave flights
        • 48-59 months: 3 annual leave flights

        Flights should be economy class.

      3. You are not employed in the UK, but will be working in the UK

      You need to provide the costs for outward and return airfares, if you need them, as accurately as possible. We will work out the other costs.

      • outward and return airfares

        We will pay the airfares at the beginning and end of your time in the UK, for you, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance of £1,000

      • a contribution of £200 towards visa/vaccination costs for you, your partner and dependent children

      • a contribution towards housing costs

        Up to:

        • £3,000 a year if you are single
        • £4,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £5,000 a year if your children are travelling with you
      • annual leave airfares

        If you are spending two or more years in the UK, we’ll pay a contribution towards annual leave airfares for you, your partner and dependent children to return to your place of primary residence.

        The rates are:

        • £500 a year if you are single
        • £1,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £1,300 a year if your children are travelling with you

        The number of return flights we’ll pay for depends on how long you’ll be spending overseas:

        • 24-35 months: 1 annual leave flight
        • 36-47 months: 2 annual leave flights
        • 48-59 months: 3 annual leave flights

        Flights should be economy class.

      4. You are not employed in the UK and will be working in another overseas country

      You need to provide the costs for outward and return airfares, health insurance and, if you need them, anti-malarial treatment, housing security and education allowance. These should be as accurate as possible. We will work out the other costs.

      • outward and return airfares

        We will pay the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance of £1,000

      • health insurance and anti-malarial treatment (if needed) for you, your partner and dependent children 

      • a contribution of £200 towards visa/vaccination costs for you, your partner and dependent children

      • a contribution towards housing costs

        Up to:

        • £3,000 a year if you are single
        • £4,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £5,000 a year if your children are travelling with you
      • housing security costs if you will be working in a low- or middle-income country

      • education allowance

        We will give you an education allowance if you will:

        • have dependent children travelling with you 
        • be working in a location where there isn’t a free education of the same standard as your home country.

        The allowance covers:

        • 90% of nursery school fees for 3 to 4 year olds up to a maximum of 15 hours a week
        • 90% of local junior school fees
        • 90% of local secondary school fees
        • 90% of home country boarding school fees if both parents and/or guardians will be living abroad
        • economy class return airfares for any children at a boarding school, at the beginning and end of each school term.

        The allowance doesn’t cover education costs:

        • if you'll be working in an English speaking high-income country as you will usually have access to suitable public/state schools for your children
        • for your children over the age of 18, once they have finished secondary school, eg university fees.
      • annual leave airfares

        If you are spending two or more years in another country, we’ll pay a contribution towards annual leave airfares for you, your partner and dependent children to return to your place of primary residence.

        The rates are:

        • £500 a year if you are single
        • £1,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £1,300 a year if your children are travelling with you

        The number of return flights we’ll pay for depends on how long you’ll be spending overseas:

        • 24-35 months: 1 annual leave flight
        • 36-47 months: 2 annual leave flights
        • 48-59 months: 3 annual leave flights

        Flights should be economy class.

    • Flexible Funding Allowance

      Your grant includes a Flexible Funding Allowance (FFA), which you can use to pay for unanticipated costs. These can include directly incurred costs of your research, such as:

      • consumables, animals or equipment
      • the actual salary costs of people supported on your award
      • extending the award by a short period
      • page charges and/or costs for colour prints in journals (charges not related to the cost of making a paper compliant with our open access policy).

      You don’t have to apply for an FFA. We calculate it and add it to your award.

      The FFA is 2.5% of your total eligible costs and does not include an inflation allowance. It is capped at £50,000.

    • inflation allowance

      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. If the costs in your application are in pounds sterling, euros or US dollars, you’ll receive the following allowance:

      Award duration         Inflation allowance
        (in months)                  
             0-12                           0.0%
           13-24                           0.8%
           25-36                           1.6%  
           37-48                           2.4%
           49-60                           3.3%
           61-72                           4.1%
           73-84                           4.9%   

      These rates are calculated using compound inflation at 1.6% 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.

    • publication costs

      The Flexible Funding Allowance can be used to fund the 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 your 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

      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.

      We don’t cover open access article processing charges.

    • clinical research costs

      If you need to carry out clinical trials or research using NHS patients or facilities, we will cover some of the research costs.

      Annex A of the guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD) sets out the costs we cover, and which costs should be funded through the Department of Health in England, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

      Further information on funding for clinical trials.

    • other costs

      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 delivering data management and sharing plans
      • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
      • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles.

      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
      • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
      • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filin 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
      • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs
      • radiation protection costs.

During your fellowship, you can apply for public engagement funds to involve the public in your research and inspire learning.

What we don’t offer

We don't fund on a proportion of full economic costs in UK universities.

How to apply

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

Start your application

If your project involves the digitisation of analogue material – including text, audio and video – for use over the web, please read our Technical guidelines for digitisation projects [PDF 148KB] before you apply.

Stages of application

  1. Submit your preliminary application

    We'll assess your eligibility, suitability and competitiveness. If suitable, we'll invite you to submit a full application.

  2. Submit your full application

    View a sample full application form for Research Fellowships in Humanities and Social Science [PDF 1.7MB]

     

  3. Review and shortlisting

    Full applications are considered by either the Medical Humanities Early Career Expert Review Group or the Society and Ethics Early Career Expert Review Group, depending on the area of the proposed research. If your full application is successful at this stage, you'll be invited for interview. 

  4. Peer review

    We’ll seek written comments from external expert reviewers – we encourage you to suggest appropriate people. Unattributed comments will be sent to you before your interview.

  5. Interview

    The Medical Humanities Interview Committee or the Society and Ethics Interview Committee will interview shortlisted candidates at the Wellcome Trust offices in London.

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 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    22 January 2016

  • Full application deadline

    30 March 2016

  • Shortlisting

    May 2016

  • Interviews

    July 2016

July 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    6 July 2016

  • Full application deadline

    20 September 2016

  • Shortlisting

    November 2016

  • Interviews

    January 2017

Definitions

Early

You’re starting your career in postdoctoral research.

Intermediate

You’re consolidating your research career. You lead on research projects and are establishing a research team.

Returning to research

You’re returning to a research career after a break of two years or more.