Programme Grants - assessment criteria for full proposal stage

Programme Grant full proposals are assessed against the following criteria:

Quality of research (primary)

The proposal must demonstrate that research of the highest quality will be undertaken by a world-leading team. The research programme should be ambitious, creative and innovative addressing key research challenge. It should be clearly stated why the challenges are ambitious; applicants should set the proposed research in context of the current state of knowledge and other work under way in the field. The research programme should also be sustainable beyond the lifetime of the grant and have significant impact beyond its immediate group.

The principal investigator should have brought together a world-class team with complimentary expertise so as to enhance the potential to achieve the vision.

National Importance (secondary major)

The proposal should clearly identify how, over the long term, how the research proposed:

  • Contributes to, or helps maintain the health of other research disciplines, contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges, contributes to current or future UK economic success and / or enables future development of key emerging industry(s).
  • Meets national strategic needs by establishing or maintaining a unique, world leading research activity (including areas of niche capability).
  • Fits with and complements other UK research already funded in the area or related areas, including the relationship to the EPSRC portfolio, and our stated strategy set out in 'Our portfolio'.

The extent to which applicants are able to address each bullet point will depend on the nature of the research proposed.

The definition of National Importance, and further details can be found at preparing new proposals to include National Importance.

Added value

The proposal must demonstrate the need for Programme Grant funding, in other words the advantages and benefits of supporting a coherent programme of inter-related projects and other research activities rather than individual project grants. It must also discuss the value of the longer term funding, and how the flexibility of both staff and other resources will be exploited.

Overall vision and ambition

The proposal must articulate the overall research vision of the research programme. It is expected that the research vision will be ambitious, transformative and would result in a significant step change in knowledge and understanding that will have a major impact on the research area. It should significantly raise the international profile of the UK in this area.

Leadership quality

Effective leadership is essential to drive the projects forward, and ensure all members of the team are focused on the overall vision. Leaders need to not only be scientific leaders in their field but also be able to establish consensus, motivate their staff, and take executive action to ensure the research objectives are met. Often leaders of programme grants are required to provide this consistency of vision and focus over teams that span some considerable geographic and scientific spread. The leadership skills needed to drive the research programme forward will primarily be assessed at the interview stage.

Management strategy

The proposal must demonstrate that there is a clear management plan, which will ensure that resources, including staff resource are deployed in the most effective way to deliver high quality research outputs that have the potential to induce a step-change in the knowledge of the subject area. It is expected that the deliverables and milestones will be routinely reviewed to ensure that the most promising lines of research are pursued and that a strategy will be in place to seek independent external advice. Sufficient resources are assigned to ensure the project is professionally managed. For more advice, see guidance on managing large research activities.


The proposal must demonstrate that a strategy is in place to ensure maximum impact of the research is realised. Details of this strategy should be contained in the Pathways to Impact document. For more information and advice  please see the EPSRC guidance on impact.

Advocacy for engineering and the physical sciences

The proposal must demonstrate how the group will be advocates for the engineering and physical sciences. Applicants should specifically address how they will influence its policy makers on the importance of engineering and physical sciences. Advocacy through public engagement activities can also be considered, as long as these activities are directly related to the programme of research applied for. This criterion will solely be assessed at the interview stage.