ESRC will be investing up to £45 million over five years through this centres competition. The competition is for proposals ranging from £2.5 million to £10 million 100% full economic cost (fEC) with a term of five years. 

Research centre funding is aimed at experienced research leaders who require longer-term or extended support for research groups, inter-institutional research networks, project-linked programmes, medium-to-large surveys, other infrastructure or methodological developments, or any related larger-scale projects.

Research Centres are major ESRC strategic investments. In addition to taking forward an ambitious research agenda and making significant economic and/or societal impact, they add value by increasing research infrastructure, building capacity, encouraging interdisciplinary working in social science and beyond, and enabling research collaboration in the UK and internationally.

The competition is open to innovative new research addressing any major social and economic topic. It is an essential requirement that your primary research area is in the social sciences. We strongly encourage inter/multidisciplinary working both within and beyond the social sciences, as long as at least 50% of the proposed programme of research is within ESRC remit. 

We particularly encourage ambitious and novel research proposals addressing new concepts and techniques, and proposals with the potential for significant scientific or societal and economic impact.  Knowledge exchange and impact-generating activities will be an integral part of any centre proposal, regardless of topic area or discipline.

How to apply
The ESRC is running a two stage selection process. Further detail will be made available the call is officially published in April 2020.

Internal selection process

The Social Sciences Division will be running an internal competition, which will aim to identify the most competitive proposals. These will then be supported by the Strategic Research Development team (led by Dr Sharron Pleydell-Pearce), who will work closely with researchers to further develop and submit the bids.

In the meantime, we request that anybody who is thinking of submitting a proposal for the scheme let us know of their intention to apply by providing the following information:

  1. Draft title of the proposal

  2. Overarching aim/objectives of the proposed centre

  3. Principal investigator and potential co-investigators and their institutional affiliation

  4. List of possible/intended collaborators and their institutional affiliation, including potential external partnersThere is an institutional restriction of three applications to this competition. We are aware of a number of potential applications to this call, and so believe that this application process needs some coordination in order to ensure Oxford submits the three most competitive proposals. 

Funder deadline for stage one - June 2020

Funder deadline for second stage applications - January 2021

Social Sciences Division deadline for outline information as detailed above - 31st March 2020

Law Faculty deadline for outline information required for the Divisional deadline - 24th March 2020

Full details regarding this competition can be found on the ESRC website