Research beyond borders

European Research Council – not just for STEM

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The European Research Council (ERC) recently published an edition of its newsletter trying to encourage more top researchers in the social sciences and humanities to apply for their awards. While some of the language used in its call documentation can be off-putting, with references to science and technology peppered liberally throughout the guidance, there are in fact great opportunities for arts and humanities researchers to gain significant amounts of bottom-up funding for PIs (and teams if necessary) to run the projects of their choice in the ‘Starting Grants’, ‘Consolidators Grants’ and ‘Advanced Grants’ strands. The ERC aims to fund the best researchers to undertake exciting, cutting edge, ambitious projects, so if you’ve a strong track record and a great idea that’s been bubbling away at the back of your mind for a while, then this may well be the programme for you.

Assessment panels within the social sciences and humanities domain include ‘cultures and cultural production’ and ‘the study of human past’, while awards made in the three main strands have covered topics such as ‘The Sublime in the Public Arts in C17 Paris and Amsterdam’, ‘The post-imperial historiography of late Antiquity’ and ‘A comparative history of archives in late medieval and early modern Italy’.

The UK humanities community also saw significant recent success in the pilot ‘Synergy Grants’ call which aimed to provide funding of up to €15 million for interdisciplinary groups of researchers to work closely together on major projects. A project based at Cambridge on ‘Domestic Devotions: The Place of Piety in the Renaissance Italian Home’ was one of only 11 out of 710 applications submitted across all research areas to be funded.

The European Commission is proposing that the ERC should have significantly increased funding available when the European Union’s new research programme, Horizon 2020, begins in early 2014. The same schemes are expected to continue when the new programme launches, and so now is the ideal time to have a think about applying in the future. As you might expect, demand for the funding is high and success rates are low (between 10-15%), but there’s plenty of help available in the form of the UK’s National Contact Point helpdesk for the ERC, manned by Ed and Jo at RCUK’s Brussels Office, UKRO.

So, take a look at the links below, and who knows? You might just get funding to run the project of your dreams!

Full details of the ERC’s schemes, plus the newsletter focusing on social sciences and humanities, are available From the ERC website:

The ERC National Contact Point helpdesk is at:


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