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Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Potential Funding Opportunity)

Reference Number: R124
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: Up to 4 Years
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

The ESRC offers both Quota awards and an Open Competition for awards. Applicants may only apply for one or the other, however this decision will be made with the school to which you have applied to study.

Please refer to individual Academic School websites for information on their ESRC funding availability. Schools will have their own deadlines for applying for ESRC funding, so applicants are advised to contact them for information and advice on the application process.

Key Award Information

Background Information: The ESRC (one of the 7 UK Research Councils) began in 1965 as the Social Science Research Council, comprising social science committees covering 14 disciplines ranging from anthropology to statistics. In 1983 the council was restructured under the new name of Economic and Social Research Council, focusing on six research areas: economic affairs, education and human development, environment and planning, government and law, industry and employment, and social affairs.

Funding Opportunities: The ESRC offers both Proposal (Open) competition awards and Nomination (Quota) awards.

Nomination (Quota) awards: These are studentships that have been allocated directly to an ESRC recognised department/school. The ESRC provides studentship funding for 3 year PhD (+3) or 4 year Research Masters and PhD (1+3). This can be 'Full-Award' or 'Fees-Only' dependent on residential eligibility. They can also be held on a 'Full-Time' or 'Part-Time' basis.

Proposal (Open) Competition: The Proposal (Open) Studentship competition is held annually by the ESRC offering funding for 1+3 (masters attached to a PhD) and +3 (PhD) awards. For the 2009 competition there will be approximately 70 awards available. Due to the limited number of awards available, the Proposal (Open) competition will be held as two separate sub-competitions: a) the 1+3 and b) +3.

To apply for ESRC funding in the first instance, prospective students must apply directly to the school in which they wish to study. The school will allocate its Quota awards to the strongest candidates, and those who are unsuccessful in this instance will then be entered for consideration for the ESRC Open Competition.

There will be approximately 70 awards available in the Open Competition.


Full awards include tuition fees (UK/EU level) and a maintenance grant for each year of study. The maintenance grant will meet the National Minimum Doctoral Stipend level set by the UK Research Councils – for 2009/10 this is £13,290 p.a. For Industrial CASE and ESRC/UK Government Collaborative awards, the stipend will carry a minimum enhancement of an additional £2,000.

At present, part-time students are not eligible for a maintenance stipend; part-time awards will include UK/EU tuition fees.

For ‘+3’ awards and the PhD component of ‘1+3’ awards, ESRC will provide an additional Research Training Support Grant to the institution – currently £750 per year for each full-time student (£450 for part-time students). These grants are intended to cover additional fieldwork, conference attendance, etc.

All payments from ESRC will now be made direct to the institution at which you are studying. Full award holders will receive payment of the maintenance stipend direct from the university.

Number of Awards Available: Please see individual academic school websites for information on their ESRC Quota Awards.

There are 70 UK-wide Open Competition awards available.


Academic Criteria: Applicants must be a graduate (or expect to become a graduate) of a recognised University (usually at upper second-class honours and above); in addition, candidates for ‘+3’ Doctoral awards must demonstrate that they have attained the full ESRC research training requirements, usually via a Master's Degree or similar qualification. Please see the ESRC website and guidance notes for further details.

Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals, and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements.

To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.

EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement are eligible for a fees-only award, provided that they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course.

For a full explanation of the residency eligibility criteria, please see the ESRC website.

How to Apply

Applicants should consult with their Academic School with regard to deadlines in submitting their university application in the first instance.

Applications must be submitted to the institution at which the programme is to be studied. Applications for the Open Competition will then be made to the ESRC by this institution. It is therefore important that the applicant has been accepted by the institution for their programme of study well in advance of the closing date for applying to the ESRC for funding.

Stage 1 – Apply through the University Online Application System: indicating in your application whether you wish to apply for a +3 or 1+3 ESRC award.

Stage 2 - The academic school to which you have applied will decide whether to allocate you a Quota award, or enter you into the Open Competition.

Stage 3 - Applications to the ESRC Open Competition will be made directly by the school to which you have applied using a Joint Electronic Submission system.

Application Deadlines: will vary for each academic school.

The application deadline for the School of Social Sciences is 29th January 2010. Please refer to other academic schools for their own deadlines.