ESRC is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a new organisation that brings together the UK’s seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England to maximise the contribution of each council and create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision is to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. For more information visit the UK Research and Innovation website.   

UK Research and Innovation is a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government

We are the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. We support independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and civil society. ESRC's total budget for 2017-18 was around £202 million. At any one time ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.

What we offer

We offer:

  • Quality: All ESRC research awards are made in open competition, subject to transparent peer assessment at the outset and evaluation on completion. Rigorous standards are applied to all the training we support. Our research often involves multidisciplinary teams, collaboration with other councils, and frequently takes a long-term view. Our datasets, longitudinal and panel studies are internationally acclaimed resources.
  • Impact: Our research makes a difference: it shapes public policies and makes businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective as well as shaping wider society. Our knowledge exchange schemes are carefully devised to maximise the economic and social impacts of the research that we fund.
  • Independence: Although publicly funded, we emphasise the importance of independent and impartial research. We have no 'in-house' researchers, but distribute funds to academics in universities and other institutes throughout the UK.

Our mission

Our role is to:

  • promote and support, by any means, high-quality research and related postgraduate training on social and economic issues
  • develop and support the national data infrastructure that underpins high-quality research
  • advance knowledge and provide trained social scientists who meet the needs of users and beneficiaries, thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the UK, the effectiveness of public services and policy, and the quality of life
  • communicate clearly and promote public understanding of social science.


We are committed to supporting the very best research, with scientific excellence the primary criterion for funding. All our funding opportunities are highly competitive and only those proposals judged by experts in the field to be of the highest scientific quality are supported.


We play a key role in promoting and supporting training for the UK social science community throughout their careers. We invest in high-quality research training and development opportunities to produce skilled researchers who are able to tackle the most pressing social and economic challenges and have a broader impact on society.


Partnerships bring a wealth of opportunities to the social sciences, from the development of researchers skilled in knowledge exchange to creating maximum impact of our research on society’s most complex challenges. Building strategic partnerships with academia, the public and private sectors, and civil society is a key aspect of our work.


Researchers require access to world-class data and pioneering research methods to deliver high quality research and maximise impact. We take a strategic lead in driving the expansion of the UK's data infrastructure and supporting cutting-edge methodological developments.

Working internationally

We are an international leader in the social sciences. We foster international collaboration with a wide range of international partners and, through joint schemes, we enable UK social scientists to collaborate on challenging global issues with the very best international researchers from around the world.

Public engagement

We work to raise public awareness of social science and we encourage involvement in research that will translate into benefits for society and individuals.

Our history

We began in 1965 as the Social Science Research Council and in 1983 we became the Economic and Social Research Council.