Applications Guide

Research Councils

Applications for grants made to all Research Councils - AHRC/BBSRC/EPSRC/ESRC/ MRC/NERC and STFC (including TSB, Eti, NC3Rs) will need to be submitted electronically via the Je-S system. The Principal Investigator will complete the electronic application form and submit it to the Je-S system. The form will pass through an Approver Pool (Finance Office) and Submitter Pool (Head of School) before being sent to the relevant Research Council.

The Research Councils each have a Funding Guide which gives details of the arrangements and procedures for research grants and fellowships. This covers aspects like Funding Opportunities, and the process for awarding grants. The guides are currently being updated for the changes arising from fEC, but as they become available we will provide a link to them from here: RCUK Funding Handbook

Anyone involved in the preparation and submission of a proposal should familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions for fEC grants and the relevant Council's regulations. Details of all the requirements and the terms and conditions for research proposals can be found in the following:

When the proposal is completed it is initially submitted to the host organisation’s administration to undertake quality control including checking the completeness, validity and accuracy of the costs sought.
If the proposal is being submitted against a Call for Proposals then sufficient time should be allowed for the organisation to process the proposal and submit it to the Council before 4pm on the specified closing date.

All costs that contribute to the full economic costs (fEC) of the proposal should be included.

All costs should fall under one of the following cost headings:

  • Directly Incurred; These are costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project, are charged as the cash value actually spent and are supported by an audit record. They include:


  • Staff: payroll costs requested for staff, full or part-time, who will work on the project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail during the life of the project.
  • Travel and Subsistence: funds for travel and subsistence for use by staff who work on the project where these are required by the nature of the work.
  • Equipment: The cost of individual items of equipment dedicated to the project and individually costing more than £10,000 (including VAT). Against each equipment item the applicant can specify the total cost of the equipment and the amount being requested from the Council. All equipment costs will now be shown under the Directly Incurred heading.
  • Social Surveys. This is available for ESRC proposals only. Only Subcontracted Surveys Costs should be entered under this heading and will be shown under the Exceptions Heading in the Resource summary and funded at the 100% rate (for the amount sought from the council). Surveys that are not subcontracted should be entered under the Other Directly Incurred Costs section of the proposal and will be funded at the 80% rate and shown under the Directly Incurred Heading in the Resource summary. The exception option should not be selected.
  • Other costs: Costs of other items dedicated to the project, including consumables, books, survey fees, purchase/hire of vehicles, publication costs or recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project. Items of equipment costing less than £10,000 should also be included under this heading.


  • Directly Allocated: These are the costs of resources used by a project that are shared by other activities. They are charged to projects on the basis of estimates rather than actual costs and do not represent actual costs on a project-by-project basis. They include: 
    • Investigators: Proposals will need to show the costs of Principal Investigator and any Co-Investigators (but not Researcher Co-Investigators, who should be included as a Directly Incurred cost) if their time charged to the project is based on estimates rather than actual costs.
    • Estates: These costs may include building and premises costs, basic services and utilities, and any clerical staff and equipment maintenance or operational costs not already included under other cost headings.
    • Other Directly Allocated: These costs may include, for example, the costs of shared Pool staff or access to institutional research facilities such as equipment, IT systems. 
  • Indirect Costs: These include non-specific costs charged across all projects based on estimates that are not otherwise included as Directly Allocated costs. They include the costs of the Research Organisation's administration such as personnel, finance, library and some departmental services.
  • Exceptions: These are Directly Incurred costs that Research Councils will fund in full (i.e. at 100%), subject to actual expenditure incurred, or items that are outside fEC.

All costings should be at current prices, inclusive of VAT and other taxes where applicable, with no allowance for inflation. Any allowance for inflation that has been included in the full economic costing of the proposal by the Research Organisation must be excluded. The Research Councils will include an allowance for inflation if a grant is awarded.

Resources to be provided by project partners, whether cash or in-kind contributions, should be clearly identified in the proposal. These contributions are not considered to be part of the fEC of the project.

All costs associated with the research project must be justified.

AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and TSB require an attachment to the proposal entitled “Justification of Resources”. This statement should be used to justify the resources required to undertake the research project and is a mandatory addition. Applicants should:

  • Explain why the indicated resources are needed, taking account of the nature and complexity of the research proposed. Note that it is not sufficient merely to list what is required.
  • Have regard for the breakdown of resources into the summary fund headings Directly Incurred, Directly Allocated and (where appropriate) Exceptions.
  • In some cases, such as investigator time, use of internal facilities and shared staff costs (all likely to be Directly Allocated costs), the basis of the costing need not be justified, but the need for the resources does need justification.
  • Try to be explicit about the need for the level of investigator time sought, bearing in mind the complexity of the research, the need to manage the project and supervise staff and any wider considerations such as collaboration or facilities usage.
  • Estates and indirect costs do not need to be justified.
  • Queries Regarding FEC Proposals

The Councils have asked each RO to identify an individual at the RO as the first point of reference for queries from applicants regarding FEC proposals.

The Je-S Helpdesk should be used as the first contact point for the Councils. Queries regarding the details of costing a project will have to be referred back to the RO contact since these will be specific to each RO. Otherwise, the Je-S Helpdesk will use its contacts within the Councils to obtain a response.

The document should be attached as type Justification of Resources.

For STFC applications the justification of resources should be included within the Case for Support



Updated Peer Review Guidance