UCL Public Policy


Small Grants 2017/18

Applications for the UCL Public Policy Small Grants Scheme 2017/18 have now closed. 

Details of the winning projects will be listed here shortly. 

The 2017/18 scheme will run under two main themes: Expert Engagement and Policy Challenges, each offering awards of up to £4,000 per project. 

Expert Engagement Fund

In 2017, UCL PP will fund a small number of projects that focus on the challenge of engaging civic society and different publics with academic-policy engagement and discourse. We are particularly interested in work addressed at engaging hard-to-reach groups.

This stream would seek to fund research or activities that explore public attitudes to and engagement with academic expertise or the interface between publics and policy, investigate the role of expertise in public discourse, encourage the public to engage with the parliamentary or policy process, or assess the challenges and barriers to civic engagement with policy questions. Proposals can be for a piece of policy-relevant research, for activities built around a piece of research, or other similar work. Proposals entailing innovative mechanisms for delivering policy engagement or impact are particularly welcome.

Find out how to apply

Policy Challenge Awards 

Applicants are invited to set out a proposal for responding to one of the following policy challenges, set by our government partners. The 2017 Policy Challenges are:

  • Big Data (please address one of the following):

    • How can we use big data to stimulate climate action or encourage changes in societal/individual behaviour? (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)
    • How do we harness the latest developments in technology to promote better mental health and wellbeing? (Government Office for Science)
  • What is the future of the UK’s services sector and how is technology likely to influence supply and demand in the future economy? (Government Office for Science)
How can we design a systems-based approach to tackling complex environmental management problems? (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs)
  • How can we understand the public’s (changing) views of healthcare and what it can achieve? (Department of Health)
  • How do we incentivise the ethical development of GGRs, while ensuring that the outcome isn’t detrimental to other goals, such as a healthy and biodiverse environment, and food and water for all? (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)
  • How do we combine the evidence from the emissions pathways generated by energy-economic models with accurate representations of individual and societal behaviour, technological development and other less tangible but crucial drivers, in order to more robustly assess what is possible in the real world (with/without political will)? (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)

Applicants are particularly encouraged to consider:

  • How current or future research can help to address the policy challenge
  • Developing innovative ways to support academic-policy engagement
  • Activities which support co-production of knowledge.

The main form of assessment will be a 5-minute pitch in person to the review panel to present the proposal. The panel will then have up to ten minutes to ask supplementary questions. Panel presentations will take place on Wednesday 11 October at 10.00-12.00.

You may apply for more than one policy challenge award but please bear in mind that it is unlikely that more than one award will be made to the same person.

How to apply

To apply for the 2017 Small Grants Scheme, download and complete the application form (.doc). Please ensure you have read the full information for Applicants before submitting your application.

Applications should be submitted online here

Deadline for applications is 2 October 2017

Please direct any questions about the Small Grants Scheme to the Public Policy team.

Information for Applicants

(download the Information for Applicants PDF)

What proposals should seek to do

The small grants scheme is designed to support research staff, students and academics at UCL to increase their engagement with public policy, improve engagement with external policymakers through research expertise, and/or enhance the public policy impact of their research. We encourage applicants to think creatively about how to achieve greater policy engagement and impact, including about possible outputs from their work. Proposals should include some degree of collaboration with an external policy professional or organisation. If an external policy partner is not included in the application, it will normally be expected that proposals should identify such a partner and state how the applicant(s) will work with them. Proposals may be for an entirely new piece of work, or for a project as part of an existing activity. If the latter, the proposal should aim to enhance the policy engagement or impact of existing work beyond what may already have been planned.

Applicants are welcome to discuss ideas with the UCL Public Policy team in advance of making their application. It may also be helpful to consult support available from UCL Enterprise, UCL Public Engagement, and other knowledge exchange and impact supporting units. You can see previously funded small grants on our website.


Funds must be spent by the end of the 2017-18 UCL financial year (31 July 2018), but activities may be part of a larger ongoing project. Funds may only be used to cover direct costs. The funding is not intended to be used for equipment or travel unless there is a clear and specific contribution to policy engagement arising.

Completing the application form

  • Please be as succinct as possible and focus on directly responding to the questions
  • Please state how your proposal will meet one or more of the aims of the funding scheme
  • Please be as specific as possible in terms of the planned activities, outputs and outcomes of your proposal, including your stated objectives and how success in meeting these will be evaluated

You may also wish to consider how the proposal fits with the UCL 2034 strategy:

If your application is successful, the award will be transferred to a Project Task Award (PTA) in your department and your departmental finance manager will be responsible for managing the award. At the point of submission, you will need to provide the details of the finance manager and confirm they are happy to do so.

Assessment of Application

Expert Engagement applications will be assessed by a panel including UCL Public Policy, academics and policy professionals, following an initial shortlisting by the UCL PP team. Applications will be notified of the results in writing. Assessment criteria will include:

  • The extent to which the proposal will support public engagement with policy questions or processes
  • The potential for delivering additional policy engagement and/or impact from UCL research
  • The scope for collaboration with external policy and other partners

Policy Challenge Award applications will be initially shortlisted and then asked to make a 5-minute pitch on their proposal to a panel including UCL Public Policy, academics and policy professionals. 

The panel will consider:

  • Whether the proposal is likely to enhance individual researchers’ or UCL’s public policy engagement or impact
  • Whether the proposal is likely to build relationships with policy professionals or build capacity for engagement
  • Whether the proposal is likely to meet its stated objectives
  • Whether the proposal is innovative in its proposed mechanisms for enhancing public policy engagement or impact


Decisions will be made by end of October 2017. The decision of the panel is final.

Reporting and Evaluation

UCL PP asks applicants to commit to a multiple-stage, light-touch, evaluation of the outcomes of their proposal if funded, comprising a mid-project progress report, an end of project outcomes and impact report, and a follow-up outcomes and impact report 12 months after the end of the project. This information will be shared on the UCL PP website and in UCL PP reports, and UCL PP will endeavour to promote events and activities relating to small grants awards throughout the project life.