Leverhulme Scholarship Essay

The process for applications currently runs on a three-year cycle and is now closed. It is due to re-open in 2020.

This scheme offers ten grants of £1.05 million each to fund full-time scholarships for doctoral study in a subject area of the applicant university’s choice. Individual doctoral students may not apply.


The first round of Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships scheme was launched in 2014, as a means of supporting doctoral studies in UK universities, and nurturing future generations of aspiring young researchers. At a time of growing undergraduate debt, the Board wishes to ensure that increased indebtedness does not discourage graduates from undertaking doctoral study. The second round of Doctoral Scholarships ran in 2017.

Scheme overview

Ten awards of £1.05 million each are made to UK universities. Each award funds 15 Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships at that institution, with five scholarships to be offered in each year of the three-year grant. UK universities may submit one application only, and joint applications are not accepted from groups or consortia of universities.

The awards are offered in a subject area or thematic area that applicant universities have identified as a research priority; the chosen area should be sufficiently broad to sustain five doctoral students in each of the three years of the grant, but it should also have a clear and coherent overarching thematic identity.

Each scholarship is for a fixed sum of £70,000 for each student over 36 months of full-time doctoral study, which will cover maintenance (at research council levels), tuition fees, with any remaining funds to be used for the Leverhulme Scholar’s research and training expenses.

While the scholarships may be held by students of all nationalities, the Trust has a particular interest in supporting UK or EU students.

Eligible applicants

The scheme is open to applications from any UK university. Applications are not accepted from a group or consortium of universities. Once a university has selected their preferred bid, they should provide the Trust with the principal applicant’s name, departmental affiliation and email address. Access will then be granted to the Trust’s online Grant Application System. 

The Leverhulme Trust does not accept applications directly from graduates wishing to pursue doctoral study.

Ineligible research areas

The Trust prefers not to support research areas currently identified as a priority by the research councils or other significant public funders.

There are further general restrictions on the kinds of research that the Leverhulme Trust is able to support. Before beginning an application, please read the guidance on research we do not fund

Assessment criteria

General criteria: when considering applications for this scheme we will use the normal Leverhulme Trust assessment criteria to identify applications of outstanding merit which that fit with the particular values of the Trust. These general assessment criteria are set out in detail in our approach to grant-making.

Specific scheme criteria: there are three additional criteria that are specific to the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships scheme:

  1. The strength of the case made by the applying university for the choice of subject area that has been identified as a priority for doctoral training at that institution. For example, does the chosen subject area support a research priority that is identified in the university’s strategic plan? Does it contribute to an existing area of research excellence? Or will it enable the university to innovate in a new field of research?
  2. How well the proposed scholarships fit within the applicant university’s current provision for doctoral training, and the extent to which the award would provide added value.
  3. The extent to which the scholarships will deliver a legacy for the university’s research in the chosen area, and how well this legacy will be sustained beyond the three years of a Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships grant.

Application procedure

The closing date is 4pm on Tuesday 18 July 2017. Decisions will be made at the end of November 2017.

Universities may submit one application only. Applications are not accepted from a group or consortium of universities. Nor are applications accepted from other UK institutions or organisations.

Applications must be submitted by a principal applicant, who must undertake to oversee delivery of the programme, and to be responsible for the management of the award. All applications must be accompanied by a supporting statement from a designated representative for the applying university. This should be the pro-vice-chancellor for research, or someone holding a similar senior role. The application and supporting statement must both be provided by the closing date via the Leverhulme grants application system.

Detailed information on making an application

For more information

If you have general enquiries concerning an application for a Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships award, please contact Gillian Dupin on 020 7042 9876 or email gdupin@leverhulme.ac.uk

Offering up to £500,000 over five years for research on a topic of the applicant’s choice. Grants cover salary and research costs directly associated with the project. Submit a first-stage outline application at any time.

The aim of these awards is to provide financial support for innovative and original research projects of high quality and potential, the choice of theme and the design of the research lying entirely with the applicant (the Principal Investigator). The grants provide support for the salaries of research staff engaged on the project, plus associated costs directly related to the research proposed, and the award is paid directly to the institution at which the applicant is employed.

Proposals must reflect the personal vision of the applicant and demonstrate compelling competence in the research design. The Trust favours applications that surmount traditional disciplinary academic boundaries and involve a willingness to take appropriate degrees of risk in setting research objectives.

Value and duration

Research Project Grants may be held for up to five years. The maximum grant value is £500,000. The funds requested should be appropriate for the grant duration and the resources required to realise the project’s objectives.

Eligible research areas

The following guidelines are drawn to the attention of potential applicants:

  • Both because of the substantial funding available from other sources for applied medical research, and the Trust’s priority to support investigations of a fundamental nature, we do not fund studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals, or research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications.
  • Similarly, because of the availability of alternative sources of funding, the Trust does not fund policy-driven research where the principal objective is to assemble an evidence base for immediate policy initiatives.
  • The Trust will not fund applications for research of which advocacy forms an explicit component.
  • The Trust does not support research which is aimed principally at an immediate commercial application.
  • The Trust will not fund applications in which the balance between assembling a data bank or database and the related subsequent research is heavily inclined to the former.
  • The Trust does not fund applications in which the main focus is on capacity building, networking, or the development of the skills of those involved.

If applicants are uncertain about eligibility, they are encouraged to telephone or email the Trust before submitting an application.

The Trust's approach to grant-making

Specific attention is paid to the reasons given by applicants in justifying their choice of the Trust as the most appropriate agency for the support of their project. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to consult the statement on the Leverhulme Trust’s approach to grant-making.

Eligibility, costs and application procedure

Please read the following before submitting an application.


For questions about Outline Applications, please contact Matt Middleton on 020 7042 9873 or email mmiddleton@leverhulme.ac.uk.

For questions about Detailed Applications, please contact Nicola Thorp on 020 7042 9872 or email nthorp@leverhulme.ac.uk

Dr Swidbert Ott, University of Cambridge, was awarded a Research Project Grant in June 2010; providing £258,101 over 36 months to research mechanisms driving acquisition and maintenance of swarming behaviour in locusts.

Jeremy Bentham's manuscripts on sex, law and religion. Professor Philip Schofield, University College London, was awarded a Research Project Grant in March 2010, providing £158,516 over 36 months.

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