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Department of Social Anthropology


Applying for Funding within Social Anthropology

Download your copy of the preliminary application form here

The Schools of Arts and Humanities and Humanities and Social Sciences provides detailed guidance on the process of applying for research grants at the University of Cambridge, and on managing awarded grants both for aspiring and current PIs and postdoctoral/early career researchers. These resources should provide a basis for your discussions with the (RGA) or your unit administrator within the Department to initiate the application process. You are strongly advised to peruse the numerous resources found on AHSS Research, Research Operations Office (ROO), and Research Strategy Office (RSO) websites to complement the support you receive from our Department in all stages of your project.  

The notes below provide a brief guide to the key steps in applying for internal and external research funding via Social Anthropology. If you have any queries about these, or anything else in the course of an application, please contact the Research Grants Administrator or your unit administrator in due course.

Finding the right funding


When approaching the Department for an interest of application, make sure you:

  1. Fulfil the eligibility requirements for the said grant. The eligibility criteria are clearly outlined on the relevant web page of schemes.
  2. Have discussed your project and secured the support of a supervisor/mentor within the Department where applicable. It is the prospective applicant's responsibility to find and approach the right research contact.  Retired academics cannot be a mentor.
  3. Have sufficient time window for the entire application process. Applicants are advised to approach the Department two months before the funder's deadline to fulfill all of the required approval and due diligence procedures.

NB. If you're based within one of the units of the Department () your primary contact and support is the unit administrator.


Departmental approval

Pre-application procedure and Head of Department (HoD) approval are mandatory for all funding proposals that are going through the Department, regardless of the amount, funder or funding type (grant, fellowship, conference, workshop etc.). Depending on the funder and amount of your application, the levels and steps of approval will be manifold to ensure due diligence is carried out and risks are considered. Therefore, the key point to remember and take into consideration is that the earlier you start the process, the better and stronger your application will be.

To initiate the Departmental approval process both for internal and external grants, submit your preliminary application form along with a 2 page CV and a brief outline of your proposal to the RGA or your unit administrator. Approval of your preliminary application within the Department will trigger the request for HoD letter of approval. Please note that Departmental approval might take longer if you're submitting your interest to us out of term time. Please submit all requests for signed HoD letters to the unit administrator or RGA at least ten days ahead of the date you need them by.

Time policy: minimum 10% FTE Directly Allocated Investigator time policy

Since August 2020 there is a time policy which requires a minimum of 10% Directly Allocated Investigator time for one Directly Incurred Research staff (up to a maximum requirement of 20% for 3 FTE DI research staff).  Full policy here:  Please consider this early on in the planning of your application.  For early career fellowships this will take the form of a mentor.  You should enter the name of the Directly Allocated Investigator on the preliminary application form.

Collaborations and MillionFEC+ check

Participation in collaborations will require due-diligence background checks to be carried out on the project partners in order to ensure that there is no risk of reputational harm to the Department or the University. Any application with a combined Full Economic Costing of over £1 million (including partner contributions) will need to be cleared at School level through the Million+ process. Submissions for this process must be made at least 4 weeks prior to the funder's deadline.

Ethics approval

All prospective applicants are required to read and sign the ethics disclaimer on the preliminary application form. If your application is successful, you will be asked to undergo a full ethics review as part of the Departmental ethics approval before the start date of your project. In this case, the RGA will be initiating the review and approval process two months before the start date. Therefore it is important that you keep your unit admin and the RGA informed about the outcome of your application. 

Preparation and submission

Once Departmental approval comes through, you'll start working with your unit admin or RGA to cost your application budget as part of the preparation process. The admin will start costing on the basis of the information you provided on your preliminary application. Therefore, when approaching the Department, have a rough idea of what you're looking to ask the funder, and have the essential information (e.g. total amount applied for, travel&consumables, any staff to be employed, Dept. resources etc.) ready for the admin for expediency.

Your unit admin or RGA will walk you through the funding features and requirements of the funder, however you are strongly advised to refer to ROO's guidance on costing and pricing a project to have a good grasp of fEC, direct&indirect costs, and funder rules among other aspects. ROO also offers regular seminars on fEC for all staff involved and interested in research applications. You will require some time and frequent correspondence with your admin to finalise a sound and realistic budget to meet the requirements of your project, therefore especially for substantial proposals with large amounts you are advised to set aside 3-4 weeks to achieve this.

School support is available for all applicants when preparing the technical aspects of the application. AHSS Research Facilitators are available to support you at any stage with regards to your queries on UC internal deadlines, your application drafts, funder-specific issues and tips.

Working abroad ?

On the preliminary application form, you will be asked “whether your proposed fieldwork is to last more than 183 days (6 months) at any given location to help the Department pre-determine any overseas tax implications”.   There will often be payroll set up costs, payroll monthly costs, tax, social security, visa, legal and consultancy costs if work abroad will be for 6 months or longer in any 12 month period.  These costs could easily amount to tens of thousands of pounds + VAT.  Therefore, please consider this question carefully when deriving your research budget and contact your RGA for guidance.

Data storage requirements

You will need to consider the data storage requirements for your research.  Find out the Funder’s requirements for data storage and the length of time for which it will need to be stored beyond the life of the project.  You should then cost in data storage costs into your overall budget.

The University encourages use of its Apollo repository, costs and details of which can be found via this link:


Many awards require you to demonstrate the impact of your proposed research. This website may help you, and has some resources available :


Depending on whether you're applying for an internal or an external grant, submission rules vary slightly. Whilst there is no requirement to submit the your application to ROO for internal grants (unless specified otherwise, in very few cases), prescribed ROO deadlines apply to all applications to external funders. These must be submitted to the ROO for checking via both the funder's online portal and the X5 costing system 7 working days before the funder deadline in order to allow time to address any errors or issues that are found.

Your application may not be subject to ROO checks if it is under £250k fEC, however if it's for an external funder and includes a budget even at the outline stage, the Department is liable to submit the X5 costing according to the ROO deadlines. To determine when you should send your application to ROO, you may refer to their app submission tool.

On most funder portals clicking 'Submit' will not submit an application directly to the funder for assessment. Instead, it will first be sent to the ROO for Institutional Approval. They will then submit the application on your behalf after checking the financial aspects and ensuring risks are considered and addressed as much as possible.

Where Cambridge is in a collaboration and is not the lead, the application should be with ROO at least 7 working days before the partner institution deadline.

For open calls, if you request that the application be submitted for a particular panel meeting, the 7 working day deadline still needs to be met.

Once a submission has been completed, the ROO will issue an identification number which should be included in any further correspondence regarding the application.

If an application is successful, you will be notified by the funder and provided with an award letter. ROO provides an essential resource on managing projects and awards for your reference.

Please note that the RGA is a part-time post and due to occasional leave you would be advised to start the initiation of the grant application earlier than 30 days prior to the funder's deadline.