School of Social and Political Science

ESRC New Investigator grants


The ESRC's New Investigator grant aims to support early-career researchers in their transition to becoming an independent researcher. This is an open call with a two-stage internal review process at School level. Any applications chosen to progress to full submission are also assessed at College level. There are three deadlines annually for the School's internal panel round.

The call is open to high-quality candidates who are at an early stage in their research career. The scheme allows awardees to gain experience of research leadership and management and to formulate their plans for their research careers. Interdisciplinary projects are welcomed as well as projects with strong potential impact outside academia. Proposals from both single and combinations of disciplines are allowed but fellowship activities must be based at least 51% within the social sciences. Applicants who technically meet the eligibility criteria but hold a professorship are not eligible to apply as there is an expectation that they have already obtained these research and management skills.

Grants will usually be between two and three year’s duration and within an overall limit of £300,000 (100% full economic cost).

The ESRC plans to fund up to around 30-35 grants a year.

For more information on the scheme, please visit the ESRC website.

Points to note

The New Investigator Grant is for early career researchers who have an established publication track record and who are at a point in their career where they are looking to step forward and lead a research project. In acknowledgement of this, the School requires applicants to have at least two peer-reviewed academic publications which are deemed of high quality, and in which they had a leading role. If you would like further guidance on whether your CV and publication track record is suitable for this scheme, please speak to your mentor in the first instance and/or your subject area Research Convener.

SPS requires a mentor (SPS core staff) for all early-career fellowships. In order to apply, you must first identify, contact and have an agreed mentor for your proposed project application. The project must have Head of Subject Area approval, your mentor can help to obtain this before submitting your application to the School.

Application process

The ESRC expects to see only a limited number of proposals from a single research organisation, and these must be of the very best quality. Therefore all applications will be put through a two stage internal review process at School level and before full applications are assessed at College level. The College only allows a limited number of applications to be submitted to the ESRC.

Stage 1 - Initial School Panel Concept Review

The remaining deadlines for the School panel round in 2022 are Wednesday, 31 August and Tuesday, 29 November. For this 2022 Stage 1 round, candidates are expected to:

  • Identify a mentor (SPS core staff).
  • Have Head of Subject Area approval.
  • Notify the RO as soon as possible of intention to submit.
  • Send in: (1) a project overview (max. 2 pages A4); (2) a statement of Eligibility and Career Development plan (max. 1 page of A4); (3) an abbreviated CV (2 Pages); and, (4) a summary mentor statement (max. 1 page). Ensure that all documents are in Calibri or Arial font and minimum Size 11.

Applicants receive the School panel's decision as to whether they may progress their applications to the next Stage within 3-4 weeks. All applicants receive feedback. Applicants who are progressing will then work with their mentors and the SPS RO in developing a full proposal.

Stage 2 - Full Application School Panel Review

There are no specific deadlines for the Stage 2 - Full Application School Panel Review, however, applicants should liaise with the SPS RO to decide on suitable dates for submission at this stage of the process. At Stage 2, candidates are expected to:

  • Submit a completed Case for Support (6 pages)
  • Submit an Eligibility and Career Development Plan (2 pages)
  • Submit a CV (2 Pages) 
  • Submit a summary mentor statement

Feedback will be provided within a few weeks of the Stage 2 submission to support further development of the proposal.

There will also be a comprehensive review at College level on the final draft of the application. This will take into account the School's view on the quality of the application as well as how the feedback from the initial School panel has been integrated into the final draft application. The College panel aims to notify applicants of their decision within 10 working days but please be advised that further review may be required. It is recommended that the applicant plan for College panel review about 3-4 weeks before final intended submission date to the funder.

If you plan to apply for this scheme and would like to get extra comments or discuss your project in more details, please feel free to submit 1 page summary of your application alongside your CV at any time to