Grant Applications

Research Grant Application Approval Process

The Faculty of Oriental Studies Research Committee reviews research applications made to and through the Faculty, and works with the University’s Humanities Divisional Research Facilitators to help applicants submit the strongest possible applications to the most appropriate grants. The Director of Research and the Divisional Research Facilitator are able to advise colleagues on potential grant applications.

If you wish to apply for a research grant, you will need to follow the procedures outlined below. Please note that the processes for permanent postholders and for other applicants differ.

Before you decide on a specific grant, and before you approach the Director of Research or the Divisional Research Facilitator, familiarise yourself with the grant eligibility and application guidance material on the grant funder’s website, and see ‘A Brief Guide to Applying for Funding’.

  • Major grant providers in the Humanities are: Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, Leverhulme Foundation, European Research Council, Marie Curie International Fellowships and – internal to the University of Oxford – the John Fell Fund.
  • Members of the Faculty will receive regular emails about funding opportunities: these can facilitate your preliminary research into appropriate grants.
  • Of course, there are other funders out there, and specific grant calls come up regularly. We are able sometimes to suggest, but you can and should take the initiative to identify potential grants appropriate to your research and situation.
  • Each has its own eligibility requirements, types of grants, outlines of what a successful grant will include, assessment criteria, and of course, deadlines.
  • It is especially useful to keep in mind the assessment criteria as you formulate your research plans and applications.

Externally funded small research grants (£5000 or less) which do not have any financial or employment-related implications for the Faculty do not have to be submitted for consideration, but the committee is willing to review them and to make suggestions.

  • These should be sent to the Director of Research four weeks in advance of the submission deadline.

John Fell Fund Applications

  • Small-grant applications to the John Fell Fund must be submitted to the Faculty’s Research Committee, since the Faculty is expected to rank these applications as a gathered field when they are submitted to the Division for further consideration.
  • Draft bids for large John Fell Fund applications (over £10,000) must be submitted ten days before the Week Four meeting in the term prior to submission of the application. John Fell Fund Divisional deadlines occur shortly before the start of each term.
  • Draft bids for small John Fell Fund applications must be submitted by Monday of Week Eight in the term prior to submission of the application. John Fell Fund Divisional deadlines occur shortly before the start of each term.
  • Following revisions requested by the committee, final John Fell Fund applications must be submitted for reconsideration no later than three weeks before the start of term. If accepted by the Research Director, they will be ranked by the committee. (The Humanities Division requires that we rank JFF applications prior to submission to the Faculty for further consideration.)

The Faculty operates a two-stage process when considering applications for research to be submitted through the Faculty. Applications require Research Committee approval. Ideally, at both stages – outline applications and later, near-final drafts – are submitted ten days prior to the termly committee meeting, which is held on Tuesday in Week Four of term.

Applications outside of Research Committee cycles:

It is recognized that deadlines occur throughout the year, and that not all deadlines will suit this schedule. In that case, committee discussion will take place by email circulation or special additional meetings. Timing of submissions must be discussed with the Research Director. You must allow ample time for Faculty review by the committee.


Initial/Outline Application:

Postholders (Permanent members of the faculty)

Faculty postholders and those with permanent College posts who are associates of the Faculty are welcome to initiate conversations with the Research Director about potential applications (in person or via email). This is particularly urged for colleagues who are planning large bids. Such bids require significant work and review, and applicants are advised to initiate the process several months in advance of the deadline.

Some large grants and special calls must undergo an internal Divisional or University competition in order to proceed. These require an Expression of Interest made to the Division, but are evaluated first by the Research Director and Research Committee. This is approximately equivalent to our outline stage as described below. Interested applicants should follow those guidelines, in consultation with the Research Director.

The outline application consists of:

  • a 2-page narrative of the proposed research, foregrounding major research questions and the project’s importance to the discipline or larger research area. This should include an estimated time table and planned research outputs.
  • a brief statement of the project’s significance to the applicant’s longer research trajectory and long-term publication plans, including any REF-related activities.
  • an indicative narrative budget, stating categories (e.g., salary, travel expenses, IT) and estimated funding amounts to be requested, in addition to any resources in kind that will be needed (e.g., office space).
    • Any anticipated costs, such as database management, must be noted and projected plans for meeting them must be given. In the case of IT management, the Research Director may forward the proposal to the Faculty IT committee for evaluation.
  •  a brief statement regarding Faculty and Subject Group duties: how those relating to the applicant will be met in the event of a successful application.

These materials are to be submitted, as a single Word or PDF email attachment, to the Research Director, currently Prof Marilyn Booth (marilyn.booth@orinst.ox.ac.uk). The Research Director may advise the applicant to also discuss the outline application with the Humanities Divisional Research Facilitator.

At this stage, the Research Director will review the material for comprehensiveness and clarity and may ask for revisions or additions. If appropriate, the Research Director may seek confidential input from a colleague in the relevant field.

If given initial approval by the Research Director, the applicant will need to secure written approval of the potential bid from the Subject Group.

  • To carry the application forward, the Research Director and Committee require a written statement from the current Subject Group convenor, responding to the following questions, to ensure that these issues have been thoroughly aired:
    • What will be the impact of a successful grant and the specific buyout (if applicable), over the period of the grant, for the Subject Group in teaching and administration?
    • Will the applicant continue to fill administrative needs of the Subject Group?
    • Which Subject Group members will do which jobs in the event that this application is successful?
    • Are there other major grant applications in the pipeline from the Subject Group, and/or sabbatical leave applications, and what management plans are in place in the event that more than one application is successful?

With Subject Group approval, the outline application will be forwarded to the Research Committee for discussion.

If the committee has suggestions for improvement, or feels that the outline application is not ready for approval, the applicant may rewrite the application and resubmit it to the Research Director for reconsideration. The Research Director may approve it by Chair’s action if it is felt that the committee’s suggestions have been successfully met, or may recirculate it to the committee for further discussion.

Fixed-term postholders and other applicants, internal and external

Potential applicants are invited to submit an outline application to the Research Committee as an email attachment to the Research Director, currently Prof. Marilyn Booth (marilyn.booth@orinst.ox.ac.uk). This will consist of the following:

  • An application cover sheet
  • A single Word or PDF attachment comprising the following:
  • a 2-page narrative of the proposed project, foregrounding major research questions and the project’s significance to the applicant’s discipline or
  • research field. This should include an estimated time table and planned research outputs.
  • a 1-page statement of the project’s significance to the applicant’s longer research trajectory, publication plans, and overall career trajectory.
  • a justification for applying through the Faculty of Oriental Studies and for carrying out the research at the University of Oxford.
  • an indicative narrative budget, stating categories (e.g., salary, travel expenses, IT) and estimated funding amounts to be requested, in addition to any resources in kind that will be needed (e.g., office space).
  • Any anticipated costs, such as database management, must be noted and projected plans for meeting them must be given.
  • The Research Director may forward the proposal to the IT Committee for consideration.
  • a full CV.
    A statement from a mentor who will oversee the project locally. The mentor is a crucial element in your application, and the Research Committee will only consider applications with demonstrated strong mentor participation. Please note the following very important points:
  • The mentor will be expected to hold a permanent academic post in the University. She or he will be either a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies or have a recognised association with the Faculty.
  • The mentor is responsible at the application stage and throughout the project, should the bid be successful, for in-depth review and feedback. The mentor will be expected by the Faculty to be involved at every stage.
  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to secure the mentor’s written recognition of their support and involvement – to be submitted at this outline state, acknowledging recognition of the level of their role and substantively approving of the applicant’s project and justification for working at Oxford.
  • This entails submitting a draft application to the mentor for comment before submitting the outline to the Research Director.

If the outline application is approved by the Research Committee, applicants will be put in contact with the Divisional Research Facilitator for support in taking the application further.

NB. In ALL cases, submission of an application to the funder remains contingent on final Research Committee approval.

Specific calls:

Some grants are competitive at the Faculty level: that is, the Research Committee will consider them as a gathered field and will select those to put forward to the Division and/or University.

  • For high-volume Postdoctoral Fellowship schemes (e.g., British Academy, Leverhulme), expressions of interest from all applicants will be reviewed by the Research Committee. Expressions of interest are tantamount to the outline applications as detailed above.
  • For large and complex bids (e.g., ERC, multi-institutional or multi-Faculty projects), applications where the PI is not a postholder or where their post will not outlast the project, or where evidence of selectivity is required by the funder (e.g., AHRC Leadership Fellows scheme), a short proposal (equivalent to the outline proposal as described above) must be submitted to the Research Director, initially for discussion, which will include the HAF and Research Facilitator.
    • This will then be forwarded to the Faculty Research Committee for consideration. The proposal must include the academic case and also project management details, spelled out in the narrative budget.

Faculty review of full draft application and budget

All final applications require approval from the Research Committee before submission to the funder.

A near-complete draft of the application and near-complete budget must be submitted to the Research Facilitator in time to receive feedback and make any necessary revisions. This will then be forwarded for review by the Research Director no later than four weeks prior to the external deadline.

  • If appropriate, the Research Director may seek confidential input from a colleague in the relevant field.
  • The application will then be forwarded to the Research Committee for discussion and final consideration.

Outcome of the application review process

Depending on the Research Committee’s judgement, an application will be:

(a) Approved for submission, alongside any feedback and suggestions on the proposal,

(b) Referred back to the applicant with comments that should be addressed before reconsideration by the Faculty, or

(c) Withheld from approval, with feedback on reasons for this. The Committee may or may not permit resubmission.