Small Grants in Humanities and Social Science

Small Grants fund programmes of activities that enable researchers to build professional networks, develop new research agendas and increase the impact of their work.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Postdoctoral research, Leading a research programme, Returning to research

Where your host organisation is based:

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

Level of funding:

Usually up to £30,000

Duration of funding:

Flexible, usually 6 to 12 months but can be longer

Who can apply


You can apply for a Small Grant if you're a humanities or social science researcher with a compelling research vision and you want to do one or more of the following:

  • build your professional network
  • develop a new research agenda
  • increase the impact of your work.

You must have a PhD or equivalent and the relevant experience to deliver a programme of activities. 

You must be based at a university or other research organisation in the UK, Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country.

Programme of activities

You must propose a programme of events or activities, not one-off events or activities.

The programme could include a combination of different activities. Typical activities are likely to include organising conferences, seminars, meetings or workshops, and any research related to delivering these.

Your activities should bring together people who are relevant to your research, such as academics, policy makers and/or healthcare practitioners.

Who can't apply

You can't apply if you want to:

  • conduct a pilot study
  • develop a health intervention
  • organise a one-off event
  • travel to and attend a conference  
  • write up a book
  • do an academic course, such as a Master's degree or PhD
  • extend a current humanities and social science grant to complete activities relating to your original aims – instead, please email hssgrants@wellcome.ac.uk
  • engage with a non-specialist public audience – instead see our Research Enrichment – Public Engagement funding.

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. The current funding round is on the theme of artificial intelligence.
Full details of Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science
Scheme finder

A Small Grant is usually up to £30,000. Grants usually last for six to twelve months but the duration can be flexible, eg for a series of annual conferences.

You should ask for a level and duration of funding that's justifiable for your proposed activities.

Support can include:

    • 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.

    • 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.
    • 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 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 (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 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.

    • 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 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.

      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.
  • 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

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 full application

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

    View the Sample full application form for Seed Awards and Small Grants in Humanities and Social Science [PDF 203KB]

  2. Review and decision

    Wellcome staff review applications on a regular basis. There are no interviews. We aim to give you a decision within 14 weeks of receiving your application. In most cases, feedback won’t be provided to unsuccessful applicants.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.

Dates

There are no deadlines for this scheme – you can apply online at any time.

Definitions

Postdoctoral research

For researchers with a PhD or equivalent.

Leading a research programme

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

Returning to research

For people who want to return to a research career after a break of two years or more.

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 postdoctoral research or leading a research programme.

Key dates

There are no deadlines for this scheme – you can apply online at any time.

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

Researcher stories

Read about the career journeys of some of our researchers.

Lucy's story: a journey between different disciplines

Few careers are straightforward. Lucy took two years' break from academia, changed disciplines to return – and became a new parent just as she started her postdoc.