Small Grants in Humanities and Social Science

This scheme is for small-scale research projects, scoping exercises and meetings.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Early, Intermediate, Senior, Returning to research

Level of funding:

Usually up to £5,000

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:

Eligibility and suitability

Who can apply

To apply for a Small Grant, you should have a track record in your area of research.

You must apply through a university or other research organisation 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.

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

People Awards

Supporting public engagement projects that encourage the public to consider and debate issues raised by health and wellbeing research. Grants are up to £40,000.
Full details of People Awards

Small Arts Awards

Funding new artistic projects that enable artists and audiences to explore health research.
Full details of Small Arts Awards
Scheme finder

What we offer

A Small Grant is usually up to £5,000, although you can apply for up to £10,000 if appropriate (eg you want to hold an international meeting). Support can include:

  • research expenses for small-scale projects. Modest personal support or salary expenses may also be requested, but must be carefully justified.
    • staff

      You can ask for salary costs for yourself and any 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.

      You will need to be able to justify these costs.

    • 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.
    • publication costs

      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 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.
    • travel and subsistence

      Travel costs

      You can ask for travel and subsistence costs to cover:

      • any small-scale projects 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.

      Overseas research

      If you or any staff employed on your grant 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)

      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.

    • 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 aren’t available in institutional libraries
      • photocopying of archival documents
      • expenses for subjects and volunteers – including the 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
      • 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, 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
      • radiation protection costs.
  • conference and meeting costs

    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 can be held in:

    • the UK
    • Republic of Ireland
    • a low- or middle-income country.

    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.

What we don’t offer

  • Attendance at conferences, workshops and symposia.
  • Part-funding for a Master's course or PhD.
  • Travel and visa arrangements.

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

How to apply

We are not currently accepting applications to this scheme. 

The scheme will open again next year. 

Further details will be available in late 2016.



You’re starting your career in postdoctoral research.


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


You’re an experienced researcher responsible for the strategic direction of your research programme(s) and team(s).

Returning to research

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