Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: UK in a Changing Europe senior fellowships: round four

Apply for funding to analyse the UK’s changing geopolitical landscape. Focus areas could include UK-EU relations, and the evolving security and economic environment.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £500,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Fellowships will last for up to 30 months.

ESRC expects to support between eight and 10 senior fellows through this opportunity

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is open to high-quality candidates from a variety of academic disciplines who can demonstrate:

  • an outstanding track record and significant experience in designing, managing and conducting research of the highest quality
  • the ability to disseminate research findings within academia and to government, policymakers, civil society, business and the general public, and achieve impact.

Researchers are invited to apply from anywhere in the world. However, you must have the strong support of and affiliation with an eligible research organisation in the UK to host them if they are successful.

Grants will be available to both established and non-established members of staff of eligible UK research organisations, in line with standard ESRC eligibility requirements.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £500,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Person specification and eligibility

You must have an outstanding track record and significant experience in:

  • designing, managing and conducting research of the highest quality
  • disseminating the results and achieving impact within academia and to government, policymakers, civil society, business and the general public.

We welcome applicants from a variety of academic career backgrounds and acknowledge that not all applicants will have followed the traditional route into academia.

However, all applicants, regardless of background, must be able to demonstrate that they meet the full criteria for this opportunity.

You must demonstrate an ability to produce major contributions to social science and lead innovative and exciting research agendas. Your ability to communicate with both specialist and non-specialist audiences will also be an important criterion.

Grants will be available to both established and non-established members of staff of eligible UK research organisations, in line with standard ESRC eligibility requirements.

For guidance on eligibility, please refer to the ESRC research funding guide.

Areas of focus

The UK in a Changing Europe senior fellowship programme focuses on the implications of the UK’s changing geopolitical landscape.

Within that broad remit, we welcome submissions in the following areas:

  • European security
    • European security cooperation including NATO and EU arrangements, and the UK’s involvement in or contribution to these
    • the security environment in Europe and its neighbouring states, including risks posed by third countries.
  • UK-European relations (broadly defined) and the impact on relationships with third countries
  • energy and food security
  • comparative politics
    • politics of the European Union and its evolution and relationship to the domestic politics of member states
    • British politics post-Brexit including the devolved administrations and the UK constitution and devolution.
  • border and cross-border issues
    • migration and its regulation and management, and public attitudes towards population movements across the many different categories of migrants
    • transnational issues, for example climate change, just transitions, net zero, mass displacement, and how the UK manages these with European partners
    • Northern Ireland and the management of the border with the Republic of Ireland.
  • international trade and regulation
    • UK economic relationships with the EU, Europe and third countries, including by sector, and the trade and economic agreements that govern this
    • economics of UK-European relationships and their impacts, and the interdependence of economic, trade and governance systems
    • UK economy, including the macroeconomic impacts of Brexit and the pandemic, the changing economic geography of the UK, ‘levelling up’, the economic and labour market implications of the end of free movement between the EU and the UK, and the introduction of the post-Brexit immigration system.
  • public attitudes
    • the UK’s changing social landscape, particularly with respect to class, gender and ethnicity, and its impact on public policy and the UK’s European position
    • public attitudes and identities, including UK perceptions of European countries and their perceptions of the UK.

There is no set allocation of funding to any individual theme. Each proposal will be judged on its own merits and how far it meets the full requirements of the funding opportunity.

When recommending proposals for funding, the panel, in consultation with UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE)’s Director, will consider the overall thematic balance of the UKICE initiative and will seek to ensure that the key themes and priorities detailed above are covered to the fullest extent.

Outputs and impact

Over the course of the fellowships, in addition to original research publications in leading peer-reviewed journals, fellows will need to engage with a variety of audiences and contribute to public policy debate.

These could take the form of policy briefings, think pieces, evidence briefings, or reports.

We encourage the use of innovative media in these activities.

This is a highly collaborative grant and you will be required to:

  • work as a team with other senior fellows and the UKICE hub
  • work towards exploiting synergies and maximising impact of other ESRC investments, such as centres and institutes in relevant subject areas.

By working together with the UKICE hub, you must consider how best to build links and contacts with potential beneficiaries and users of the research at the earliest possible stages of project design and development, and to work towards co-production of knowledge where appropriate.

You must outline clear knowledge exchange and impact plans that:

  • identify and actively engage relevant users of research and stakeholders at appropriate stages
  • articulate an understanding of the context and needs of users, and consider ways for the proposed research to meet these needs or increase understanding of them
  • outline the planning and management of associated activities including timing, personnel, skills, budget, deliverables and feasibility
  • include evidence of existing and future engagements with relevant users.

Capacity-building

We will be looking for evidence of a strong commitment to capacity-building and to supporting the development of researchers at all stages of their career. This should include, but not be limited to, the early career stage.

Fellows are encouraged to consider how they can support the career development of all members of the team.

The focus should be on the quality and impact of research, and how increasing capacity contributes to this.

Examples of building capacity include support and mentoring, management and leadership, and seeking additional funding for research, impact and knowledge exchange.

Associated studentships are not eligible under this funding opportunity.

Flexibility

Fellows will be part of a team and work in close collaboration with both the director and other grant holders. This includes having the flexibility to take part in activities additional to their own programme of work and being reactive and willing to respond to events at short notice.

It is also an expectation that fellows assist the UKICE hub in ad-hoc duties.

Fellows will need to discuss with the UKICE Director, the hub and ESRC all events and publications planned as part of the fellowship in advance to ensure coordination and team-working.

Leadership and coordination support

One fellow will have the opportunity to work closely with the director to play a vital leadership role. A second application and assessment process, only open to the successful senior fellows, will run to administrate this part of the fellowship.

Applicants to the senior fellows’ opportunity interested in this leadership role should indicate in their senior fellow application that they intend to apply for this further opportunity.

This leadership role will involve:

  • assisting in the planning and coordination of activities that deliver the initiative’s aims and objectives. These include media campaigns and publications aimed at a range of audiences, including the general public, briefing events, town hall meetings and online content.
  • liaising with other senior fellows and other award holders in cognate areas to maximise opportunities for collaboration and synergy and avoid duplication
  • working with key stakeholders, particularly government departments, to maximise the impact of the activity supported through the initiative. The initiative’s objectives identify a range of audiences, including government, industry, civil society and think tanks, as well as the general public.
  • deputising as appropriate for the director.

This fellow will work closely with, and report to, the director. They will be expected to meet regularly with the director and ESRC staff responsible for the initiative.

The director will convene regular project meetings with this fellow to ensure that there are coherent activities covering the portfolio and to maximise the potential impact from the programme. A willingness to be a strong team player is a prerequisite for this role.

The senior fellow interested in this role must be able to commit a minimum of 20% full-time equivalent (FTE) for management and coordination activities in addition to the FTE commitment to the senior fellow award.

The total time between research, dissemination, impact, management and leadership and coordination must not exceed 100% FTE.

Senior fellow applicants should not allocate budget to leadership duties or discuss how they would undertake their leadership role in their senior fellow application.

Both of these elements will be covered through the second process, which will be completed as soon as possible after a decision has been made on successful fellowships.

You may wish to discuss this opportunity in more detail with Professor Menon (anand.menon@kcl.ac.uk) prior to submitting a proposal.

What we're looking for

ESRC invites applications to the UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) senior fellowship programme.

We are looking to fund between eight and 10 UKICE senior fellows to analyse the UK’s changing geopolitical landscape, in key areas such as UK-EU relations and the evolving security and economic environment.

Cost and duration of fellowships

Fellowships will last for up to 30 months and be for a maximum of £500,000 at 100% full economic cost.

ESRC will pay 80% of the full economic cost and the host institution will be responsible for the remaining 20%.

Support may be provided for justified research staff, travel, subsistence, associated research costs and equipment.

Eligible costs must be fully specified and justified in the justification of the resources section of the proposal, in accordance with the ESRC research funding guide.

To allow sufficient time for the range of activities expected from each fellow, you must, on average, be able to commit a minimum of 40% full time equivalent over the course of the fellowship.

It is accepted that there may be a variation in time commitment during the course of the fellowship to reflect the commitments of the fellows. Your time commitments to all projects should not exceed 100%.

Fellowships will be expected to start between 1 October 2022 and 31 December 2022.

Costs for research assistants will be eligible and they must be properly justified and based upon the needs of the fellowship in terms of time and spread of expertise.

UKICE hub

UKICE is a UK-wide network of academics and researchers coordinated by the UKICE hub at King’s College London and led by Professor Anand Menon.

It promotes rigorous, high-quality and independent social science on the broad theme of the UK’s role in a changing Europe, with work in areas such as politics and society, economics, law, governance and the constitution, the UK in the world, and UK-EU relations.

Recently renewed for the 2022 to 2025 period, the UKICE hub delivers its objectives through:

  • an active online presence, including social media, podcasts, videos, and the publication of briefings, commentaries and blogs
  • a busy programme of events, including conferences, briefings, and roundtables, panel discussions aimed at both academic and non-academic audiences
  • working closely with other ESRC investments.

What we are looking for

A UKICE senior fellowship offers an unrivalled opportunity for researchers who want to produce high-quality original research and engage policymakers and non-specialist audiences in its outputs, working with other leading researchers and communication professionals.

You will produce new research, synthesise existing thinking, and facilitate knowledge dissemination, exchange and impact with non-academic audiences.

An important part of your work will be to communicate to audiences in government, parliament and beyond, and to develop connections and impact opportunities.

This opportunity is highly collaborative. You will be part of a cohort and will be required to work as a team, making the most of synergies and amplifying the reach and impact of others.

You must commit to contribute to the overall work of the hub, including participation in events and support with dissemination efforts and widening the UKICE network.

You will provide expertise on important aspects of the UK’s changing geopolitical landscape, including the implications for the UK and the wider European continent in areas such as trade, foreign policy, and security, covering a range of disciplines such as economics, law, politics and international relations.

You will analyse the implications of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine (including mass displacement and energy and food security) on:

  • the UK economy
  • politics
  • society
  • the environment
  • the UK’s relationship with the world.

Key areas will include:

  • the political and constitutional structure of the UK
  • devolution
  • European security
  • European politics
  • international trade
  • UK foreign policy and international governance
  • international collaboration
  • threats to democracy
  • the provision of global goods that are all in scope.

This funding opportunity encourages applications from a range of disciplines and specialities. In fulfilling this role, it is essential and a requirement that the senior fellows work flexibly and closely with the UKICE Director.

The role of the director and the UKICE hub

The UKICE hub plays a central role in:

  • reaching out to the academic community
  • mobilising researchers to contribute to the objectives of the programme
  • identifying knowledge gaps
  • synthesising and disseminating research findings to relevant stakeholder communities
  • communicating and promoting the social sciences more broadly.

Further details on the hub can be found on the UKICE website.

The UKICE Director, Professor Anand Menon, oversees the UKICE hub and supports fellows in their research dissemination and public engagement activities.

Activities in which the fellows will be actively involved and required to contribute include:

  • producing outputs that are easily accessible to policy makers, the business sector, journalists, civil society organisations, educational institutions and the general public who are interested in UK relations with Europe and other international partners, and the implications of the UK’s changing geopolitical and economic landscape
  • hosting events where social scientists participate alongside key non-academic stakeholders to ensure an effective exchange of information and knowledge
  • developing innovative communication approaches, particularly with social media, to engage with hard-to-reach communities not generally exposed to or connected with the best social science research findings
  • facilitating the impact and engagement work undertaken by social scientists both in the UK and elsewhere, enabling them to communicate their research to key stakeholder groups and the wider public and amplifying the work of the wider social sciences community.

The UKICE Director also maintains close contact with key stakeholders in:

  • government
  • parliament
  • the business sector
  • the media and other interested organisations, including:
    • major political parties
    • print and broadcast media outlets
    • key government departments
    • civil society groups.

The UKICE Director will keep these stakeholders abreast of research findings and enable the forum to anticipate and be responsive to their needs.

Fellowships are designed to produce new knowledge, synthesis and add value to existing research, and communicate work to achieve academic and user impact.

Such impact should be developed in coordination with the UKICE hub and could involve activities such as organising seminars or briefings to discuss research issues or disseminating findings at different stages of the research project, and developing discussion networks, academic think pieces, blogs and articles.

You will be expected to act as a champion for the social sciences, promoting the importance of social science research in addressing current and future strategic and policy issues.

You will be working collaboratively with the UKICE hub, with other senior fellows and be expected to forge links with colleagues in other institutions who are not part of the UKICE framework.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.
When applying, select ‘new document’ then:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: fellowship
  • scheme: research fellowship
  • call/type/mode: UKICE Senior Fellowships: round four

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

ESRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 30 June 2022.
You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

There will be no opportunity to change the proposal through Je-S, once submitted.

If the proposal exceeds specified page limits, additional pages will be discounted. If the application omits any required documents, the proposal will be judged only on the information provided. If additional material is provided, the commissioning panel will be instructed to ignore it.

Proposals that do not meet the criteria for the funding opportunity will be office rejected.

Attachments

Along with your Je-S application you will also need to include the following mandatory attachments:

  • case for support
  • justification of resources
  • data management plan (for grants planning to generate data)
  • curriculum vitae
  • head of department or research organisation support statement
  • workplan.

You must read the ‘senior fellows opportunity guidance’ document in the ‘additional information’ section to ensure that your attachments fully meet the requirements of this funding opportunity.

UK higher education institutions

All UK higher education institutions are eligible to receive funds for research, postgraduate training and associated activities.

Independent research organisations and other institutes approved by UK Research and Innovation are eligible to apply for ESRC funding.

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

How we will assess your application

ESRC will convene a commissioning panel, comprising academic experts and research users with interests and expertise in this field.

The panel will score applications based on the submitted documentation, peer review comments and principal investigator response.

The panel, together with the UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) Director, will discuss the highest scoring proposals based on their fit to the funding opportunity and complementarity as a programme before reaching a funding recommendation.

It is envisaged that the top scoring candidates will be required to attend an interview as the final stage of the assessment process.

You will be informed of outcomes throughout the autumn. We expect the work to begin from October 2022 and no later than 31 December 2022. Later start dates will not be accepted.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

More information can be found in the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making document (PDF, 176KB).

Proposals

Quality of the proposal is the primary criterion for selection and is essential. The commissioning panel will be asked to comment on the following criteria in assessing proposals.

Focus and research activities

This criterion includes:

  • clear rationale for the fellowship research areas
  • relevance to one or more of the focus areas or a very strong case for the proposed research area of the fellowship
  • justification of the proposed research activity (for example, the balance between new research, synthesis, knowledge exchange, impact, dissemination and additional research funding)
  • assessment of the proposed research activity, both new research and research synthesis:
    • theoretical and conceptual background
    • clear aims and objectives
    • chosen methodology
    • anticipated outcomes.
  • potential contribution towards advancing the research field, either in terms of conceptual understanding, theoretical and methodological development, or application of research-based knowledge to policy or practice or development of interdisciplinary approaches.

Relevant experience and academic standing

This criterion includes:

  • track record of highly regarded outputs relevant to the funding opportunity’s objectives in recognition of the importance of this factor, ESRC has exceptionally decided that the curriculum vitae for the fellow can be up to six sides of A4 rather than the usual two
  • evidence of outstanding contributions to social science leadership and impact.

Outputs, dissemination, engagement and impact strategy

This criterion includes:

  • processes and means for identification, engagement, collaboration and dissemination of findings to target audiences, particularly the non-academic community
  • a sound strategy for achieving impact of planned outputs as well as the ability to communicate to both specialist and non-specialist audiences in engaging and innovative ways
  • a coherent plan for working collaboratively with the UKICE Director and hub, other senior fellows and other ESRC investments in related areas
  • clear plans and enthusiasm for engaging flexibly and responsively to opportunities for impact, such as media requests and other ad hoc activities that may have not been included explicitly in the original work plan
  • promoting the role of social sciences and representing ESRC interests.

Value for money

This criterion includes:

  • justifiable and reasonable financial support sought
  • justification for a research assistant or assistants (if sought)
  • appropriate and justified time commitment
  • an overall assessment of the likely value for money for the sum sought.

Research organisation support

This criterion includes:

  • availability of facilities for all staff
  • any additional research organisation support offered.

Engagement with users and partners

ESRC expects applicants to consider the potential scientific, societal and economic impacts of their research, with outputs, dissemination and impact a key part of the criteria for most peer review and assessment processes.

You need to set out how you intend to add to the work of the hub in identifying and actively engaging relevant users of the research (within and beyond the academic community including, for instance, the public sector, private sector, civil society or the wider public in general) and include evidence of any existing engagement with relevant end users.

You should articulate a clear understanding of the context and needs of these users and consider ways for the proposed research to meet and impact upon these needs.

The proposal should also outline how the legacy of proposed activity will be managed to engage beneficiaries and increase the likelihood of its impact in providing lasting value to participants, stakeholders and the wider social science community.

Opportunities for making an impact may arise, and should be taken, at any stage during the research lifecycle even when funding has ended.

The research lifecycle includes knowledge exchange and impact realisation activities, including reporting and publication, and the archiving, future use, sharing and linking of data.

To be effective, all communication, engagement and impact activities must be planned in detail and properly resourced in the proposal.

Throughout the relevant sections of the research proposal, applicants should therefore actively consider how these impacts can be maximised and developed and how they will work collaboratively with the director and the rest of the senior fellows.

You will need to demonstrate an understanding of the wider audiences interested in the initiative and your particular research, including policymakers and business leaders throughout the UK, civil society organisations, schools and young people, the general public and actors in the wider international context.

You will need to include plans for user engagement and communication with these key audiences.

We will provide further detail on the assessment process of the leadership role.

Broadly speaking, those applying to this role must be able to demonstrate they have:

  • a proven ability to lead a major initiative collaboratively
  • a proven ability to coordinate a group of researchers, including supporting them to maximise the outreach and impact of their research with both academic and user audiences
  • proven record of highly regarded expertise, experience and networks in relevant areas
  • a coherent plan of activities aimed at working closely and collaboratively with UKICE’s hub and ESRC
  • a sound strategy for engaging with, and making available findings to, target audiences, including non-academic and international communities
  • an ability to work across disciplines within and beyond the social sciences and with a large network of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, especially government departments
  • value for money.

The duration of this leadership role will be the same as that of the main grant and must not exceed 30 months.

Information on eligible costs will be included in the opportunity information shared with the successful senior fellows.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Richard J. Cox, Case Officer

Email: senior-fellows@esrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Ask about UK in a Changing Europe

Professor Anand Menon

Email: anand.menon@kcl.ac.uk

Additional info

Research ethics

Applicants must:

  • ensure that the proposed research activity will be carried out to a high ethical standard
  • clearly state how any potential ethical and health and safety issues have been considered and will be addressed, ensuring that all necessary approvals are in place before the project commences and all risks are minimised.

All applicants must comply with the ESRC framework for research ethics.

Open access

We are committed to ensuring that our research community makes the outputs from ESRC-funded research publicly available.

All ESRC-funded researchers are expected to comply with the UK Research and Innovation open access policy.

Demand management

We anticipate that this funding opportunity will receive significant interest, so we encourage research organisations to carefully consider the number and quality of proposals that are submitted.

Research organisation support

We will be looking for evidence of strong institutional commitment and contributions to hosting a fellowship (for example, through the provision of grant-associated parallel activities and capacity-building).

Hosting research organisations are expected to provide the fellow with research facilities and accommodation, together with any additional research costs not covered by the fellowship payment (although additional funding could be sought from another research funder).

The research organisation must also work with the project office on the coordination of any publicity arising from the grant. This institutional commitment will need to be set out in a separate attachment in the proposal under ‘Head of Department statement’.

Further information is provided in the ‘senior fellows opportunity guidance’ document, which you can download from the ‘additional information’ section.

Additional support for the fellows

To support the successful candidates in their engagement and impact activities, we expect any training requirements to be developed within the framework of the proposal.

It is expected that senior fellows will take advantage of communications and impact training provided by their university during the course of their grant.

We anticipate that resources to cover eligible costs associated with impact-related activities will be requested.

It is expected that senior fellows will attend an annual conference organised by the research director, as well as other periodic hub meetings. Travel and subsistence costs should include costings for these meetings.

You may wish to discuss general aspects of your proposal with Professor Menon (anand.menon@kcl.ac.uk) prior to submission.

Supporting documents

UKiCE senior fellowship Je-S guidance (PDF, 317KB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 221KB)

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