NERC's discovery science (responsive mode) funding stream supports excellent environmental research that is driven by curiosity rather than by NERC's wider strategic priorities. Asking fundamental questions about how the world works often turns out to have wide-ranging social and economic benefits.

Discovery science can support pure, applied, technology-led or policy-driven research, but it must address - or provide the means to address - clearly-defined scientific questions.

Adventurous research, multidisciplinary research and collaborations with international and non-academic partners are encouraged.

NERC's research grant schemes provide financial support for environmental scientists to carry out research projects of international quality at UK universities and other approved research institutions. See NERC's webpages for further information on research grants.

Standard grants

There are two closing dates per year. Next closing date:17th July 2018. The Standard grant scheme also includes a route for New Investigators. Detailed information on the grant and application process can be found in the handbook on the NERC website

The project should be:

  • well defined, with clear objectives
  • all work packages should be achievable within the timespan of the project.


  • Up to £800k (100% Full Economic Costing, £640k at 80% FEC).
  • To be discussed with Karen, Elizabeth or your Centre Administrator in advance of any application

Start date:

  • 1st January 2019 onwards: The NERC panel will meet in November to discuss applications to this round, so January is probably the earliest realistic start date.



In 2015 NERC implemented demand management measures for their Responsive Mode rounds (including New Investigators). A restriction on the number of applications permissible is applied to institutions with a success rate below 20% over the previous six grant rounds. The University of Oxford has been issued with a cap of 9 applications for each of the July 2018 and January 2019 responsive mode rounds. To ensure that we achieve a high success rate, the Research Services NERC Responsive Mode Standard Grant. NERC Steering Group at Oxford has decided that all Oxford submissions to these NERC Standard Grant rounds must be approved internally in the University before submission to NERC. Before any application to a NERC Standard Grant round can be submitted, it must be reviewed by one of three Oxford panels, convened cross-departmentally to allow for specialist and non-specialist feedback on applications.

EoI deadline (within Department): Wednesday 28th March 2018
Intention to submit deadline: Friday 6th April 2018
Submission to an Oxford panel deadline: Monday 16th April 2018 (4pm)
Moderating Panel meetings: Between 1st – 11th May
All revised shortlisted applications to be sent by the Moderating Panel contacts to Research Services for circulation to the Decision Panel members: Tuesday 5th June 2018 (noon)
Decision Panel meeting w/c 11th June 2018 TBC
Chair of Decision Panel or secretary to notify applicants of outcome of meeting ASAP following Decision Panel meeting
Research Services deadline: Tues 10th July 2018 (5pm)
NERC deadline Tues 17th July 2018 (4pm)

If you intend to apply, please talk to Karen, Elizabeth or your Centre Administrator as soon as possible as it is likely we will be setting internal Faculty deadlines as well to help facilitate the application process.