UCL Grand Challenges


Grand Challenges Doctoral Students' Small Grants (closed)

The UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Doctoral School offer funding for doctoral students from different disciplines to work together.

1 November 2021

Applications closed

Applications closed Friday 10 December 2021.

Purpose of the scheme

an image of the grand challenges doctoral students grants icon
Since early 2017, UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Doctoral School have announced an annual small grants call offering awards of up to £2,000 for pairs of doctoral students from different faculties who want to carry out joint research-informed, societally relevant, cross-disciplinary activities.

The scheme provides an opportunity for pairings of UCL research students from different Faculties, registered for doctoral degree studies, to bring complementary domains of disciplinary expertise to bear on issues of relevance to UCL's six Grand Challenges. The scheme also welcomes Postdoctoral Research Assistants (PDRAs) as 2nd Applicants. 

The scheme is non-prescriptive. Applicants are free to propose activities based on novel approaches to any research problems that interest them within the broad scope of UCL Grand Challenges. Over the years the call has welcomed ideas for a range of activities including workshops, conferences, surveys, community intervention research and art installations.

2021-22 Call Outline

Six grants of up to £2,000 are available for cross-Faculties collaboration at UCL. 

Two grants of up to £2,500 are available collaboration between UCL doctoral students /PDRAs and counterparts at the University of Lincoln (which will co-fund the awards)

To explore potential partnerships with UoL students, prospective UCL Applicants are encouraged to contact Lauren Blackwell (Research Development Coordinator, UoL Research & Enterprise). 

Scheme details:

  • For activities in academic year 2021/2022 only (funding is available until 31 July 2022)
  • For cross-disciplinary partnerships between doctoral students, or between doctoral students and PDRAs
  • Applicants must be based in different faculties
  • All UCL registered doctoral students (full or part time) are eligible to apply, i.e. MPhil/PhD, Eng D, MD (Res), or professional doctorate students, although the opportunity will mainly be of interest to students in the mid-period of their doctoral studies (i.e. on track with their research project, and not yet writing up)
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistants (in their first postdoctoral appointment) may apply as 2nd Applicants
  • Awards of up to £2,000 are available for collaborations at UCL, or up to £2,500 for UCL-UoL collaborations
  • As appropriate (intra-UCL or UCL-UoL) applicants may apply for any amount between £500 and £2,500
  • High quality low-cost proposals are encouraged
  • Activities should relate to one of the six major strands of the UCL Grand Challenges programme: Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Cultural Understanding, Human Wellbeing, Transformative Technology or Justice & Equality
  • Proposals should be relevant to societal problems and be informed by applicants’ research interests. They must be achievable within the time available for use of awarded funds (between late January and 31 July 2022)
  • Proposals relating to the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are of interest
  • Suitable activities include, but are not limited to pilot studies, workshops, conferences and public events
  • A virtual sandpit event will be available in November (w/c 15th) for prospective applicants who would like to meet potential partners, either at UCL or UoL [NB This is an optional pre-submission step]
  • Proposals should add value to applicants' studies
  • First Applicants are asked to provide a short statement of support from their departmental graduate tutor
  • First and Second Applicants are equally important—awards will be held in an account in the 1st Applicant's department (intra-UCL grants) or split between 1st and 2nd Applicants departments UCL-UoL grants)

Virtual sandpit

We are holding an optional virtual sandpit in mid-November to allow students from UCL and the University of Lincoln to meet and learn about each other's research ideas and approaches. The sandpit will give you the chance to find partners for your research idea. If you are selected to attend, you will have the opportunity to make a short presentation about yourself and your work and to network with the other attendees.

This deadline for sandpit EOIs has passed. 

Apply for a Small Grant

This scheme is closed for 2021/22. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Grand Challenges team.

See related funded projects

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