Research in the humanities and social sciences
We fund research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses any aspect of health.
On this page
Why it's important
At different times in history, or in different cultures and settings, people can have very different experiences of health, disease and wellbeing.
Understanding more about those experiences can improve the delivery of healthcare. It can also improve the way scientists conduct their research.
- knowing how ethnicity affects the way people experience healthcare could improve how treatment is delivered to a broad range of people in a broad range of settings
- having a deeper understanding of the social elements of pain could affect how a researcher constructs a clinical study.
What we fund
- researchers at all career stages
- collaborations across research groups
- academic research centres
- libraries and archives to make their health-related collections available for research
Examples of the research and other work we've funded are:
- the social and psychological outcomes of IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies for individuals, families and society
- the ethics of involving pregnant women in clinical trials for diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines for Zika virus
- how stereotypes about diets in Scotland, including the deep fried Mars Bar, affect health policy.
- an interdisciplinary study involving historians, clinicians and philosophers into the role of emotions in psychological and physical wellbeing
- cataloguing the entire Oxfam archive, from the minutes of its inaugural meeting to records of its campaigns.
Find out more about our funding schemes.
What we don't fund
Across all Wellcome’s funding areas there are certain activities we don’t fund.
In humanities and social science, the following are areas of research that we don’t usually fund.
Your main research aim should be to make a significant intellectual contribution to your field – theoretical, conceptual and methodological innovations are likely to be central features of your proposal.
If these elements are not clearly shown or do not appear to be a major motivation for the research, your application is unlikely to be successful.
Similarly, an application which seems mainly or wholly focused on testing whether or not a particular intervention works is also unlikely to succeed.
Research we fund can have applied elements, but successful bids also promise to add something to their field intellectually.
Projects to develop, promote, implement or assess education, including medical education, aren’t usually suitable for humanities and social science funding schemes.
Historical or sociological studies of health education that offer a contribution to scholarship in these disciplines might be suitable.
Researchers interested in education should read our Science education priority area page.
Wellcome does fund psychologists’ research but mostly through our Neuroscience and Mental Health and Population Health funding, which supports research through our Science schemes.
If your research uses qualitative methods such as focus groups or semi-structured interviews as its main approach, then it might be more suitable for our humanities and social science funding schemes.
If your research project will mainly rely on collecting primary, quantitative data, you should contact our Population Health team.
If your project will mainly rely on qualitative data (or any kind of secondary data), you should consider applying for humanities and social science funding.
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