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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


PhD Research Support Fund

Support is available to doctoral students within the School of Social and Political Science for research activities, via the SSPS PhD Research Support Fund.

The SSPS PhD Research Support Fund may cover the following research activities:

  • Presenting a paper at a conference;
  • Costs associated with fieldwork;
  • Other activities directly related to your research (e.g. training workshops covering content not offered internally, contribution to the cost of language training etc.)

Applications for books, equipment or attendance at conferences will not be considered.

Students who are in receipt of funding from a sponsoring body which includes a research expenses allowance (e.g. ESRC funded students) are not eligible to apply for this fund. Please see your scholarship terms and conditions to check your eligibility for this fund. If you have a research expenses allowance which is held by the School, you should see here for guidance on how to access it.

Applications to this fund are considered in four rounds, the deadlines for the 2020/21 academic session are as follows:

  • 1 August 2020
  • 1 November 2020
  • 1 February 2021
  • 1 May 2021

Applications can be made in advance of the research activity or retrospectively, as long as the award, expenses claim and event all occur within the same financial year (August to July).

Note that this differs to the academic year (September to August). For example, funding for a conference in August would come from the new year’s allocation as August is the beginning of a financial year.

Expenses cannot be claimed unless the award has already been approved.

The completed application form must include a supporting statement from your supervisor. Applications without a supporting statement will not be considered. Late applications will be considered in the following round.

The application form can be downloaded here. Please complete a separate form for each activity, unless two elements coincide in time and place eg conference and fieldwork.

We recommend you take advantage of the University's free travel insurance where applicable.

Research Support Fund Terms

Maximum award amounts

  1. The maximum award for presenting at EU/Overseas conferences or EU/Overseas fieldwork is £500.
  2. The maximum award for presenting at UK conferences or UK based fieldwork is £300.
  3. The maximum award for other research costs is £200.
  4. A total maximum of £500 may be awarded to a successful applicant in any one academic year.
  5. If the actual cost is higher than the amount awarded, the applicant will have to fund the excess.
  6. Depending on budget constraints it may not always be possible to fund up to the maximum award amount.


  1. The scheme is open to PhD students in the School of Social and Political Science except those in receipt of funding from a sponsoring body (e.g. the ESRC) which includes a research expenses component.
  2. For conference funding, only students who are presenting a paper are eligible to apply.
  3. Normally, only students in years 1-4 (FTE) of study are eligible to apply. In exceptional circumstances, the supervisor may make a case to support an application from a student beyond the end of year 4 (FTE) and where that student has had no more than 3 previously successful applications to the fund.
  4. The Research Support Fund may only be used to cover costs where the activity occurs before submission of the PhD thesis. A student is NOT eligible once they have submitted their thesis.
  5. Applicants are expected to have sought funding from any other relevant sources, if any exist (e.g. Postgraduate bursaries provided by disciplinary associations) before applying for this fund.
  6. Once the School’s annual budget limit has been reached, no further applications for that year will be considered.
  7. The most economic method of travelling should be sought in all cases. Except for exceptional circumstances, only these economic costs will be covered.
  8. Applications should be submitted to the Graduate School Office by the closing date to be considered in that quarterly round.
  9. If successful applicants no longer intend to undertake the research activity for which they had been awarded money, they must let the Graduate School Office know immediately.
  10. Expenses for successful applications must be claimed within one month of the date of the activity.
  11. If the application is successful, feedback is required to be submitted via the Research Support Post-Activity Report Form. The expenses will not usually be reimbursed until this form is received.
  12. Applications for books, equipment or attendance at conferences will not be considered.


  1. The applicant must complete Part A of the application form then forward to their Supervisor who must complete Part B.
  2. On completion of Part B, the Supervisor should send the form (preferably by email) to the Graduate School Office.
  3. Applications are pooled at each round and the decision to authorise the application is made at the discretion of the Deputy Director (research) of the Graduate School and is subject to a statement of support, made by the applicant’s supervisor.
  4. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the Graduate School Office by email. Applicants should expect to hear within 3 weeks of the application deadline.
  5. Applicants will be expected to pay up-front for costs, and then reclaim up to the amount authorised after the research activity.
  6. Students are responsible for making their own travel and accommodation arrangements, and any insurance which they may require.
  7. Within one month of the date of the research activity, an expenses claim form (with receipts) and the post-activity report form must be submitted to the SPS Graduate School Office. Or, if you have already attended your event and are awaiting a decision on your funding application, please retain your expenses claim until after the funding decision has been advised. Full details on how to claim expenses are below.

How to claim expenses

After the research activity, please complete an Expense Claim Form and  email to This must be received within one month of the date of the research activity and before the end of the financial year (July) or as advised above. Receipts or other proof that you have incurred the expenditure must be provided, regardless of the price of items. Please see further details on the claim form. Invoices, aeroplane tickets and other tickets that do not include the amount and your name are not acceptable. Email confirmations, print-outs of bank statements (with confidential information blanked out if you wish), and receipts are all acceptable.

We recommend that you ensure you have travel/medical insurance cover where required and you should use the University's insurance cover for University business. This is free of charge and, therefore, if you take out private insurance instead, we cannot reimburse this cost to you.

If the Expense Claim Form is completed with bank details, a BACS payment will be made. Please note that payments are not made by the GSO but by the University's Accounts Payable department. You should expect to receive your expenses 2-3 weeks after submitting your Expenses Claim Form.

You must also complete a Post-Activity Report Form which should be returned with your expenses claim.


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