Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Octagon Small Grants Fund

The Octagon Small Grants Fund supports UCL-based early-career researchers, including research students, from Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences.

IAS Octagon logo

How to apply  I  After you've applied  I  Successful applications  I  After the activity  I  Forms and documents

The Octagon Small Grants Fund has been generously supported this year by the Research Culture division of UCL Research, Innovation and Global Engagement. The IAS is working in collaboration with UCL Doctoral School to give financial support for a range of interdisciplinary research activities led by early-career researchers, including research students, from Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences.

The funds are intended to offer ECRs an opportunity to gain experience in independent research and/or research dissemination, in support of their career development in line with UCL’s Research Culture Roadmap and in recognition of the importance of interdisciplinary research and support for ECRs in these fields, which historically receive less external funding. The scheme aims to help researchers develop autonomy, build collaborations and networks (especially across disciplines), and strengthen capacity for research leadership and team management. The IAS will hold a workshop for successful applicants, to give them an opportunity to pool ideas and to access advice and guidance on their projects. 

Academic year 2023-2024

The deadline for 2024 applications is Monday 8th April 2024, 23:59

How to apply

1. What can I apply for?

  • Pilot research projects, with a cross-disciplinary orientation
  • Artistic-academic collaborations, to pilot a new project or to take existing research in a new direction
  • Theme-based conferences: applications may either be made for small themed mini-conferences, or for larger ones linked to applications for outside funding, using this as an institutional 'top-up'.
  • Seminar series which provide an opportunity to discuss and showcase UCL research, as well as funding visiting speakers and/or 'round table' events. These research activities may be followed by a reception, funding permitting.
  • Workshops or symposia which cross departments and/or disciplines.

See some examples of Octagon funded activities.

An Octagon grant can cover most of the operational costs for holding a research activity, including accommodation and travel for speakers; catering costs; stipends for activists/artists etc. The funding panel will not approve requests for expenditure on stationery, printing branded merchandise, honorariums/speaker fees for academic/salaried staff or any other expenditure outside the parameters outlined in UCL’s Expenses Policy

Please note that the Octagon Fund cannot support conference attendance or fieldwork trips for individuals.

2. How much can I apply for?

Up to £1,500 is available per application. Applicants are expected to provide detailed costings and to demonstrate how additional sources of funding have been sought and/or secured. Applicants should check before submitting the application for funding that their Departmental Administrator can assist with administrative support.

3. Who can apply?

Research students (MRes, MFA, MPhil, PhD) and/or early-career researchers (loosely defined as anyone within 10 years of finishing their PhD) from the Faculties of Arts & Humanities, now including the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, and Social & Historical Sciences. Applicants may work in collaboration with other UCL faculties or external institutions.

4. What criteria are used to assess my application?

Applications must include a budget and proposed activity plan. Applications are favourably considered if they:

  • Demonstrate interdisciplinarity/ cross-departmental collaboration
  • Involve graduate students in organisation and presentation
  • Showcase the research of the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and/or Social & Historical Sciences beyond UCL
  • Show how the project will help to build research autonomy and leadership skills for the main applicant(s)
  • Reflect engagement with postgraduate students and academic staff at other institutions


5. What is the deadline?

The deadline for 2024 applications is Monday 8th April 2024, 23:59 

View the detailed guidance and download an application form

After you've applied

6. How is my application assessed?

Your application will be reviewed by a panel comprised of IAS Directors, Vice Deans (Research) and Graduate Tutors from the faculties of Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences. The panel will consider your application against the criteria outlined in Section 4 above.

7. How long will I need to wait until I hear the outcome of my application?

The review panel usually meets within two weeks of each deadline and outcomes are communicated shortly after the meeting takes place.

You may be asked to clarify some details of your application if the panel has raised any queries, and the panel will consider your application again on the basis of any additional information you have supplied.

Successful applications

8. What are the conditions of a successful application?

Successful applicants will be expected to:

  • Acknowledge funding support from the Octagon Small Grants Fund in any promotional material
  • Provide a summary (with visuals where possible) to be displayed online to show how your research activity has used Octagon Small Grants funding

9. How do we obtain the funds?

Octagon Small Grants funds are claimed after the research activity has taken place. In the majority of cases, the applicant's department pays any upfront costs, which are then refunded via an internal transfer of monies after the activities are concluded. All monies must be spent and claimed by 31st July 2024.

10. How should I acknowledge that my research activity has been supported by the Octagon Fund?

The Octagon logo is available for use in publicity. The Octagon Administrator will send the file to you. Any digital promotion should include a link to the Octagon Funding website.

After the research activity is concluded

15. How should I claim expenses?

If your department has paid the upfront costs, your departmental administrator should submit an IDT to the Octagon Administrator, along with an overview of expenditures and copies of any receipts. If you paid the upfront costs personally, you should reclaim expenses either via iExpenses on MyFinance (for UCL staff and students) or via the General Expense Form (for visitors). All monies must be spent and claimed by 31st July 2024. Please see the Guidance for Applicants (link below) for further information and contact the Octagon Administrator with any queries.

Please keep in mind the following general points related to expenses:

  • Keep all receipts as you will need these to process payment
  • Complete the expenses form with actual costs incurred. The items which you claim for should generally be the same as those listed in your original application
  • Please allow approximately 2 weeks for payment to be processed.

16. What sort of summary do you need for the website?

We ask that you provide a paragraph or two which summarises your research activity. This will be published on the Octagon Funding website to inform future applicants about the range of activities that are supported via the scheme. Summaries and any images should be submitted within one month of the research activity taking place. 

Forms and guidance