Programme Grants - full proposal stage

Following an outline meeting, if successful, the group will be invited by letter to submit a full proposal which should satisfy the Programme Grant assessment criteria.

Applicants should ensure that they address all the assessment criteria in their application.

Grant conditions for Programme Grants

  • GAC 01 Involvement of the EPSRC

    The EPSRC will nominate a Portfolio Manager who will be the EPSRC Contact. The Portfolio Manager should receive all minutes of the management and/or steering group. The Portfolio Manager must be invited to the management and/or steering group meetings.

  • GAC 02 Collaboration Agreements

    Where the grant is associated with more than one research organisation and/or other project partners, a formal collaboration agreement must be in place with the basis of collaboration between the organisations including the following:

    • the process of the flexible allocation of resources throughout the project,
    • ownership of intellectual property, and
    • rights to exploitation.

    It is the responsibility of the Research Organisation to put such an agreement in place before the research begins. The terms of collaboration agreements must not conflict with the Research Councils' terms and conditions.

    The EPSRC contact must be informed within three months of the start of the grant, that the collaboration agreement is in place and has been signed by all partners and/or the progress made (unless some alternative timeline has been agreed with EPSRC beforehand).

    If sufficient progress has not been made within three months of the start of the grant, EPSRC reserves the right to enact GC 23.

    Arrangements for collaboration and/or exploitation must not prevent the future progression of research and the dissemination of research results in accordance with academic custom and practice.

  • GAC 03 Publication and Acknowledgement of EPSRC Support

    In addition to GC 22, it is expected that the EPSRC logo is prominent on any online and/or printed material (including posters) and that reference to the EPSRC support is made in any written text such as press releases.

  • GAC 04 User Engagement Strategy

    The grant holders must develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project.

    This strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly as part of the formal management of the grant. The strategy should cover:

    • how and when potential users have been / will be identified;
    • what form the engagement will take;
    • what steps will be taken to ensure that outputs of the research are made available to potential users;
    • suitable metrics for determining the success of the strategy in delivering value to users.

Overview of submission documents

Advice on writing proposals

Please note that the documentation required for the Programme Grant scheme has differences to the standard proposal format. Please consult the list below and the description under each subsequent section as appropriate.

  • Case for support (maximum eight pages plus technical annex)
  • Management strategy (maximum two pages)
  • Justification of resources (maximum two pages)
  • Work plan (maximum two pages)
  • Pathways to Impact (maximum two pages)
  • Other attachments (where applicable)
  • CVs (maximum two pages each)
  • Project partner support letters
  • Institutional support letters
  • Equipment documents

Case for support

The case for support must be a single document uploaded to the Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) system which includes the following sections:

  • Two-page track record which demonstrates the international standing of each named investigator and details the relevant expertise that they will bring to the research programme. For the principal investigator, there should be evidence of leadership and management skills.
  • Six-pages to address the assessment criteria and the following areas:
    • Background
    • Vision and ambition
    • Research objectives
    • Research programme and methodology
    • Added value
    • National Importance (please refer to the National Importance guidance)
    • Relevance to academic beneficiaries
    • Advocacy for engineering and the physical sciences
  • Technical support annexes to provide additional information on the science specifically for the postal reviewers - maximum number of pages to equal four times the number of major research challenges. The maximum number of pages in the technical annex will be given by EPSRC on invitation to full proposal. The format of the technical annex within this page limit is up to the applicant to decide.

Management strategy

This needs to be uploaded to Je-S using the 'additional document' attachment option. It must be a maximum of two pages and should include:

  • Strategy for using the flexibility of the resources (both staff and finance)
  • Day-to-day management strategy for ensuring individual research projects meet the overall vision for the programme
  • Details of the strategy for seeking external advice, including plans for any independent advisory boards
  • Monitoring strategy, which should include the major decision points and how this will be used to reassess the direction of the research programme
  • If seeking resource for it, the creativity@home objectives and how this resource will be managed to deliver benefit to the group and research programme

Resources for the project management of the programme should be described in the Justification of Resources. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider costing in project management and other administrative support and not replying on the Principal Investigator for these duties.

For all programme grants the inclusion of annual independent advisory board meetings and a kick-off are mandatory. As noted in grant condition GAC 01 the EPSRC contact for the grant must be invited to these meetings and sent the minutes. The details of how this is managed are up to the applicants to decide although this should be discussed with the EPSRC contact in the event the grant is funded.

Justification of resources

This should be a two page narrative description of the need for the resources requested. See the section on how to write a justification of resources for more information.

Two page work plan

It is not expected that this will be a Gantt chart for the whole time of the project. It is expected though to include a comprehensive plan for the start of the project and then to relate to the management strategy to give appropriate milestones for when important decisions on the direction of the research will be taken.

Pathways to Impact

Up to two pages explaining what will be done to ensure the potential beneficiaries have the opportunity to benefit. More details on what should be included in this document, and what resources could be sought, can be found on both the UK Research and Innovation and the EPSRC Pathways to Impact webpages.

Successful applicants will be required to develop and execute a strategy for engaging with potential users of the research funded in the project (see grant condition above). Any resources required for this should be included in the pathways to impact section and justified in the justification of resources.

Other attachments

The only other standard attachments allowed are as follows. Any other attachments submitted will not be shown to the panel.

  • CV

    CVs are only allowed for named research staff (those supported under Directly Incurred costs).

  • Equipment Quotes

    These should be provided in line with the EPSRC equipment process:

  • Letters of Supports

    In exceptional circumstances, EPSRC accepts Letters of Support that do not meet the requirements for Project Partner Letters of Support. This occurs when an organisation cannot be listed as a project partner, for example when the host institution wants to detail a proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment or contributing PhD students. However, unless there are exceptional reasons why an organisation cannot meet the requirements to be a project partner, EPSRC will not accept Letters of Support. We do not require letters of support from the advisory body members.

    There is no page limit for the Je-S attachment, but a maximum of three letters is permitted and letters should be on headed paper, and be signed and dated within six months of the proposal submission date. A combined pdf from all named Institutions involved will be allowed.


Please refer to the equipment webpages for information on what can and can’t be applied for through standard research (and Programme Grant) proposals.

It is essential that intention to apply for an item at or above the OJEU threshold has been discussed with a Programme Grant contact at the pre-outline stage.

Any applicant considering applying for equipment should refer to the equipment webpages. Where a single capital item costs more than the OJEU limit this must be discussed with the Programme Grant contact at this stage. Please note that all proposals submitted to EPSRC should adhere to the equipment process.

Guidance for Previous Programme Grant holders

Track Record section

Within the existing two page limit, please explain what changes to the team have been made and why.

Case for Support

A maximum of four extra pages will be allowed to discuss the output from your current Programme Grant (or a Programme Grant you have been strongly aligned in) and how the new grant is a significantly different research challenge from the existing grant. The additional information should also address the following:

  • How have you used the current Programme Grant to meet its original vision and ambition?
  • Summarise the main outputs from the current programme grant.
  • How have you utilised the flexibility of the Programme Grant and what were the key outputs that wouldn’t have been achieved through a series of standard proposals?

For this section, please make sure you:

  • Title this section: ‘Outputs from the current Programme Grant’
  • Submit this as a continuation to the case for support not as a separate attachment.
  • Follow the same format as the other parts of the Programme Grant for example using the standard font and margins that EPSRC specifies for all proposals.
  • Do not put any information in this section that relates to the new programme grant application, the case for support and annexes should be used for this purpose.

Assessment process

Full proposals will be sent to expert peer reviewers, including at least one nominated by the applicant and one international reviewer. Proposals that do not receive sufficiently strong support from reviewers will be rejected without being put to a prioritisation panel. Those with sufficiently favourable reviewers' comments will be assessed via an interview stage.

Applicants will be notified of which interview panel the proposal will be assigned to and will be able to respond to the reviewers' reports in the normal way prior to the panel. Applicants will have a maximum of two pages of A4 for this response.

Programme Grant contacts will be able to advise you of specific dates for interview panels.

Submitting your full proposal

Applicants invited to submit a full proposal must submit their proposal within ten weeks of the invitation.

You should submit your proposal using the Research Councils' Je-S system in the format described below by the given submission date. You should select document type 'Standard Research Proposal' and the 'Programme Grants' Scheme. Proposals must be submitted on one common Je-S form even if they are multi-institutional bids.

Please remember to allow sufficient time for your organisation's submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the deadline given.

Guidance on the types of support that may be sought and advice on the completion of the research proposal forms are given in the EPSRC funding guide which should be consulted when preparing all proposals.