Research in the humanities and social sciences

We fund research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses any aspect of health.

Why it's important

We believe in the intrinsic value of open-ended 'discovery research' that extends and improves knowledge. Discovery research in the humanities and social science does this by:

Such advances in understanding are valuable in themselves, but they also form the bedrock of more focused and instrumental research projects that lead to improvements in health.  

We believe that the knowledge created by humanities and social science research can play an essential role in improving human health.

What we support

We support the most effective possible range of discovery research in humanities and social science. We take risks on approaches, methodologies and themes to maximise the creation of knowledge. Specifically, we:

Where Wellcome is well placed to make a significant difference in any of these areas, we will try to do so, working in collaboration with global partners where necessary.

Find out more about our funding schemes.

What we don't support

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.

Applied research

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.

More information

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