School of Social and Political Science

Student-led special project grants


This page will be updated for the 2020/21 academic year. The information below is for reference only from 2019/20

Available grants

The Graduate School has grants of up to £1000 each. These are available if you want to set up and organise special projects for the first time.

You can suggest anything you like. Please note that these projects should be open to MSc and PhD students in the School, and we won't normally fund straightforward research, which is covered by other grants.

It is important to note that your special project must be student-initiated, must not already be an established project, and involves a broader community of Edinburgh's School of Social and Political Science students, rather than having an individual focus.

How to apply

All you need to do to apply is pitch the project in two or three paragraphs. You should cover:

  • what it is
  • how it will run
  • what the benefits will be

If you are interested in applying for this grant please complete the SPS Events Funding Application Form (Word doc) and send it to:

Ensure that you provide a detailed breakdown of costs and attach any evidence of this with your submission.

Please note that events awarded funding must take place within the same financial year (August to July) and expenses must be claimed within the same financial year.

Suggested themes

We have suggested the following themes to make a start but the floor is open to you for any ideas you have:

  • conference grants - to set up and run conferences and so on
  • writing and research retreats - to fund residential events focused around writing and research themes
  • collaboration and networking - we would especially like to see events with disciplines we do not normally work directly with such as Business Studies and Art and Design. Pecha Kucha and TEDx provide good models for these kinds of idea sharing events
  • research and technology training - this could cover any research method or approach, and training for technology skills such as app development, structuring metadata etc
  • workshops – to organise and/or run workshops, pay for workshop leaders etc
How to claim expenses

After the research activity, please follow the guidance in the award confirmation email.

You will be asked to complete an Expense Claim Form, and to hand this in to the Graduate School Office (Room 1.20 CMB) or email to

Expenses receipts

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, plane 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.

The post-activity report form must be submitted to the SPS Graduate School Office with your expenses claim.

Receiving your expenses

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.

Institute for Academic Development funding

The IAD offers funding for University of Edinburgh staff and students to develop and support academic networks and communities.

The IAD can also help to test ideas for creative learning activities via large scale Festival of Creative Learning Pop-up events and projects.

IAD Action Fund

Organising student-led events

If you are successful in obtaining a grant from the Graduate School for your initiative, please see the following guidance.

It is expected that you will organise all aspects of your event - with assistance, where required, from the Graduate School Office - and keep a record of your finances. Please see the list below for information on the most common areas of expenditure and/or organisation.

If anything is not covered below or you have questions about any of the information please get in touch.

If you are arranging for invoices sent directly to the Graduate School inform us prior to the invoices arriving.

Room and venue bookings

To book rooms within the university please email the GSO with the details:

  • date(s)
  • times, preferred location
  • likely numbers

If your preferred location isn't available, a suitable sized alternative can be sought.

Booking durations, capacity and charges

During semester it will be highly unlikely that you will be able to book a teaching room for any significant length of time (half day, full day etc.)

The Practice Suite (capacity 30) or the 6th Floor Staff Room (capacity 40-60) in the CMB could be a possible alternative venue.


If you are booking a university room outwith the normal opening hours of a building there will be a charge (this is University of Edinburgh policy).

For a full day booking on a Saturday in the CMB, this is around £200.

Claiming for room charges

It will not be possible for all of the expenditure to be paid for via invoice or internal transfer, it is therefore likely that you will have to pay upfront for some costs and claim back on expenses.

In order to claim expenses you must complete an electronic expenses claim form and return it to the GSO along with your itemised receipts.

You must keep all receipts as any expenditure without receipts will not be reimbursed, in line with the University of Edinburgh expenses policy (PDF).

Expenses payments to UK bank accounts should be paid around 1-2 weeks from submission of the expenses claim form and receipts, however if the expenses are being paid to a foreign bank account they can take longer.

Advance expenses

If you cannot afford the costs up front we can offer an advance of expenses.

For information on how to receive an advance please contact the PGR team in the GSO (, and allow at least three weeks before you will be making any expenditure. Please note it can take that long to receive the advance in your account.

As with the general expenses, you MUST keep all your receipts. Further instructions will be provided to you if your advance of expenses is approved.

Travel Expenses

Payment for travel operates on a claim back basis, either the attendee should pay for it up front and claim back on expenses or you can book on their behalf and claim back on expenses.

It is possible to provide you with an advance of expenses if required. See the expenses section for more information.

Expenses - general

It may be possible to hold your event in a venue outside the University.

In order to pay for this, the GSO would need to raise a Purchase Order prior to the event and it would then be paid on receipt of invoice.

It is no longer possible for you to pay the invoice up front and claim back on expenses - those expenses would not be reimbursed.

Please contact the PGR team in the GSO for more information on this.


The University has an internal delivered catering service (Edinburgh First) which offers tea and coffee, and lunches.

Although you can order it directly from Edinburgh First yourself, it is cheaper for the GSO to order it using the internal online booking system.

In order to organise this you should contact the GSO stating:

  • exactly what you would like ordered
  • the quantity
  • the time of delivery and collection
  • the location
Catering prices

It's currently (2020):

  • around £2 per person for tea, coffee and biscuits
  • £16-£17 for 20 sandwich lunches
  • £2-£3 for a litre of fruit juice

Please contact the GSO for exact prices.

External catering

It may be possible to order catering from an outside service.

In order to pay for this, the GSO would need to raise a Purchase Order prior to the event and it would then be paid on receipt of invoice.

It is no longer possible for you to pay the invoice up front and claim back on expenses - those expenses would not be reimbursed.

Please contact the PGR team in the GSO for more information on this.

Hotel Accommodation

If you need to book accommodation for your event, there are a few options on how to do this.

Claiming expenses for accommodation

You or the attendee can book and pay for the accommodation and then claim it back on expenses. See the expenses section for more information on how to do this.

The GSO can book internal University accommodation, visit Edinburgh First to see the available options.

You will need to provide the GSO with:

  • the dates
  • what accommodation is required
  • the name(s) (including title) of the guest(s)

The University has contracts with a number of local hotels who are happy to receive payment on receipt of an invoice. The GSO can provide you with a list upon request.

In order to book one of those hotels, the GSO would need to raise a purchase order prior to the stay and it would then be paid on receipt of invoice.

Student category
PhD Students