Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)



Please click below for information about the Octagon Small Grants Fund and the Octagon Friday Forum, which both support UCL-based researchers and graduate students.  Priority will be given to early-career researchers, especially those working in collaboration with graduate students.

Octagon Small Grants Fund

Octagon Small Grants Fund

The Octagon Small Grants Fund, formerly the Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies (JFIGS) fund, provides financial support for a range of interdisciplinary research activities led by graduate students and/or staff in across the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences, and the School of Slavonic & East European Studies.

This page contains an overview of the Octagon Small Grants application, event planning and post-event processes. More detailed guidance is available in the following document:


1. What can I apply for?

  • 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 events may be followed by a reception, funding permitting
  • Workshops which cross departments and/or disciplines

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?

Applicants must be from within either the UCL Faculties of Arts & Humanities or Social & Historical Sciences or from the School of Slavonic & East European Studies; however, they 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
    • Involve graduate students in organisation and presentation
    • Showcase the research of the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and/or Social & Historical Sciences and/or SSEES beyond UCL
    • Reflect engagement with postgraduate students and academic staff at other institutions
    • Link with UCL's strategic priorities

5. What are the deadlines?

Octagon Small Grants Funding is allocated across three rounds each academic year: Autumn, Winter and Spring.

The deadlines for 2018-19 are:

  • Friday 9 November 2018
  • Friday 25 January 2019
  • Friday 5 April 2019

After You've Applied

6. How is my application assessed?

Your application will be reviewed by a panel comprised of Vice Deans for Research and for Interdisciplinarity across the faculties of Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences.

The panel will consider your application against the criteria outlined in Section 4.

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. Requests for further information may relate to catering costs, the involvement of students and the extent to which your proposal showcases UCL.

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 promotional material for the event
  • Provide an event summary (with visuals where possible) to be displayed online to show how your event has used Octagon Small Grants funding

9. How do we obtain the funds?

Octagon Small Grants funds are claimed after the event 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 event.


10. I want to provide catering at my event - what's the best way of arranging this?

If your event is taking place on campus, the most straightforward option for catering is to book through Sodexo, UCL's catering supplier.

You are also welcome to cost up your catering provision using an external supplier, e.g. a supermarket.

Spend on catering must be compliant with UCL's expenses policy.

11. Transport

Octagon Small Grants funding can support your event's participants in their travel to London, either by purchasing travel tickets or providing a contribution to participants' travel costs (e.g. small bursaries for student participants from other universities). You are advised to make travel arrangements well in advance of the event so that costs can be kept as reasonable as possible.

12. Hotels

Where a speaker or participant is required to stay in London overnight, the cost of the hotel should not exceed the UCL limit of £150 per night.

UCL has negotiated arrangements with a number of London hotels and these are available via the Procurement website.

13. Visiting speakers

Please note that fees for visiting speakers are not covered.


14. How should I acknowledge that my event has been supported by the OSG Fund?

The OSG logo is available in number of different file formats for use in publicity. Please contact us once you're ready to begin promoting your event, and we will send the files to you. Any digital promotion should include a link to the Octagon Funding website.

After the Event

15. How should I claim expenses?

  • In planning your event, please 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
  • Receipts for all expenses should be attached to your expenses form. Please staple the receipts on a separate page in the order you have listed them.
  • Please include your i-expenses claim number for use in the event that the claim has not been processed. Please also attach a copy of the i-expenses claim and receipts for our records
  • Payment is available either as a personal payment or as a transfer to your department. Please allow approximately one month 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 event. This will be published on the Octagon Funding website to inform future applicants about the range of activities that are supported via the scheme. Event summaries and any images should be submitted within one month of the event taking place. 


Octagon Friday Forum

Octagon Friday Forum

The Octagon Friday Forum fund provides financial support for a series of one-off events that explore interdisciplinary perspectives on a singular theme. Previous themes include Shame, Recognition, Empathy, Home and Silence.

Friday Forum events usually take the form of a one-day conference, based on campus. Staff and graduate students from across UCL are invited to offer brief (10 minute) contributions on the topic.

If you are interested in curating an Octagon Friday Forum, please complete the following application form:


Your proposed theme should be rich enough to draw wide interest from research students and staff across the humanities and social sciences. You can find some previous Friday Forum descriptions here.

There are usually three Friday Forum events per academic year, the deadlines for applications falling in Autumn, Winter and Spring.

The deadlines for 2018-19 are:

  • Friday 9 November 2018
  • Friday 25 January 2019
  • Friday 5 April 2019

Theme proposals are open to graduate students and staff from any department across the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences. Funding of up to £500 per event supports catering and publicity.

Forum themes are decided by the Joint Faculty's two Vice Deans for Interdisciplinarity: