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Grants policies and positions

About our grants

We provide grants to support high quality UK science and foster collaboration between UK-based and overseas scientists.

About 1,500 researchers are currently funded by the Royal Society, including approximately 700 Research Fellows. Our funding sources include a grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as well as donations from individuals and organisations.

Host Organisations eligible for Royal Society funding

Higher Education Institutions and Research Council Institutes

All UK Higher Education Institutions that receive grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies are eligible to receive funds for research and associated activities, including Research Council Institutes.

Independent Research Organisations

Other independent research organisations (IROs) may also be eligible if they possess an existing in-house capacity to carry out research that materially extends and enhances the national research base and are able to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake and lead research programmes.

IROs may be eligible to apply for Royal Society funding if they can satisfy all the following conditions related to their legal and financial status. Details can be found on our guidance page.

To view current eligible IROs, visit our list of eligible organisations.

Information for IROs on how to apply for eligibility

Any UK based organisation wishing to apply for IRO status should contact the Royal Society's grants team at in the first instance for further instruction. When contacting the Royal Society please include ‘Application for IRO status’ in the subject heading, and provide details of the full name and postal address of your organisation.

Overseas Organisations

A number of the Royal Society’s programmes supports collaboration between UK and overseas scientists. However these collaborations are funded through the UK organisation. 

Exceptions do exist through a number of programmes; where the overseas organisation will receive funding, which are listed below:

  1. Organisations in Sub Saharan Africa wishing to apply for the FLAIR Fellowships, in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences.
  2. Organisations in the Republic of Ireland wishing to apply for a University Research Fellowship, in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland.

Postdoctoral research across the sciences

The Society’s grants are for postdoctoral researchers at UK universities and not-for-profit research organisations. We do not provide funding to undergraduate, Masters or PhD students.

Research must be within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes but is not limited to biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. For a full list, please see our guidance page. The Royal Society does not cover clinical medicine (such as patient orientated research and clinical trials), social sciences or humanities, other than when working in partnership with organisations. Applications for research in psychology may be made as long as they are based on the rigorous methods of experimental psychology and include appropriate statistical analysis of data.

Application and assessment

The application and assessment process varies between the schemes but may include a shortlisting process, peer review and interview. Funding decisions are made by the relevant appointment panel, which is usually chaired by a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Read more about making a grant application.

Equality and diversity

The Society is committed to increasing diversity in STEM and will do everything it can to promote and encourage diversity amongst its grant schemes. This includes looking at ways to attract a higher percentage of applications from underrepresented groups and regularly reviewing and revising as necessary promotional materials and processes to ensure that all applicants have an equal chance to succeed. Funding decisions are made solely on the basis of the quality of the proposed science but host institutions are expected to provide workplace structures which support equality and diversity (PDF).

Under-represented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Flexible working and leave

Part-time working arrangements are possible under University Research Fellowships, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships, Sir Henry Dale FellowshipIndustry Fellowships and Royal Society Research Professorships.

Grant-holders are entitled to take the full period of maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave as provided by their employing institution (other care-related leave is also considered). For more information, see our policy on leave

Moving institutions

Candidates are not required to move institutions for the proposed Fellowship, however those wishing to remain at their current organisation should clearly explain their planned route to independence and reasons for staying.

Animals in research

The Royal Society maintains that a high regard for animal welfare should be adhered to in all research. The Royal Society’s Terms and Conditions of awards set out the expectations of the Society with respect to the use of animals in research carried out under a Royal Society award. The Terms and Conditions regarding the use of animals in research are summarised as follows:

  • Research must fall within the regulations under the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and its subsequent amendments. Research conducted outside the UK must at least meet the principles of UK legislation covering animals in research
  • The Society must be informed of the number of animals, species and procedures involving animals in an Award Holder’s research. Any significant change in number of animals or change in species must be communicated to the Society as soon as possible
  • The Society endorses the principles of the NC3Rs (replace, refine and reduce)

For further information, please refer to the Society’s policy on animals in research.

Publication and publicity

The Society is committed to the widest possible dissemination of research outputs through the awards that it supports, and strongly encourages Award Holders to publish peer-reviewed accepted articles and conference proceedings in Open Access journals. As a minimum, award-holders are expected to follow green routes to Open Access by publishing in a journal which allows deposit of the accepted version (‘postprint’) in a repository providing free access with a maximum embargo of 12 months from the date of publication.  However, the Society’s preference is for peer-reviewed publications to be freely accessible on publication to ensure the widest reach and maximum benefit to the scientific community.

UK Quality Code for Higher Education

The Royal Society expects the award-holder and their host organisation to be responsible for selecting, administering and supervising the PhD student throughout their period of training, in accordance with current good practice as detailed in the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) publication: UK Quality Code for Higher Education - Chapter B11: Research degrees.

Research Misuse

The Royal Society expects all award holders to observe the highest standards of ethics and integrity in undertaking their research. Ethics and integrity are not an “optional extra” or a “regulatory burden” but an integral part of good research. Specifically, award holders have obligations and responsibilities with respect to research misuse as detailed under clause 3.16.1 (e) of the UK Research Integrity Office Code of Practice for Research. The Royal Society expects award holders behaviours and practices to align with best practice guidance as detailed in the UK Research Integrity Office Code of Practice for Research.

Support for grant holders

The Royal Society is a signatory of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research, the Concordat to Support Research Integrity and the Concordat on Open Research Data. We run a range of training schemes to support our Research Fellows.

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