ESRC intends to fund new research projects as part of the UK Research and Innovation response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Proposals are invited for short to medium-term economic and social research activity aimed at addressing and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Proposals can be received under this call at any time and will be assessed on a rolling basis. The call now includes a highlight notice focussed on COVID-19 and minority ethnic groups. Full details on how to apply can be found at:
Proposals will be accepted from anyone who is normally eligible to apply for ESRC funding. Proposals that are primarily social science will need to comply with ESRC funding guidelines, except where the call details at the link above state an exception to these. Awards will be subject to the standard terms and conditions for ESRC funding, please see our Research Funding Guide for further information.
Proposals must be novel and not duplicative of existing research activity. See social science projects that have already been funded through the call.
The role of the economic and social sciences
The impact of COVID-19 is vast and varied, complex and evolving. From major disruptions to the global economy through to the dislocation of normal personal relationships, no country, business, community, family or individual has escaped its impacts. In addition to the direct health impacts of the virus, the economic, social, demographic, environmental, psychological, behavioural, political and institutional responses to, and consequences of, the pandemic have been, and will continue to be, profound. The social sciences, individually or working with other disciplines, have a key role to play in understanding, addressing and mitigating the unfolding impacts of the pandemic.
The need for new research
ESRC is looking to fund new research projects and related data collection of up to 18 months duration which will extend the evidence base and make a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, COVID-19 and its impacts. These projects will address fundamental gaps in our knowledge and provide practical evidence that could be of use in considering ways of responding to or mitigating the pandemic and its impacts, with a strong emphasis on producing findings that can be used during the research as well as on its completion.
The focus of this call is set very much in the context of the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We do however see value in international comparative research which provides understanding of different responses to and ways of mitigating the impacts of the pandemic. However, the research must be directly relevant to the UK.
We welcome applications on any topics which can provide new and policy-relevant insights into the impacts of the pandemic. Proposals should explain the level of urgency and demonstrate a clear route to impact within the timescale of the project. Longer term projects that don't meet the urgency guidelines should be submitted through normal responsive mode.
Applicants whose proposals have a strong public health or social care focus should consider applying to NIHR where appropriate. Research focused on practical applications and patient benefit, intervention evaluation, health management and health service configuration, and the specific needs of the health and social care sector and workforce usually fall into the remit of the NIHR.
Please ensure you are fully familiar with the details of the UKRI call, as set out here, before applying.
ESRC have commissioned and published a review of research to address the question: What is known about the impacts of social isolation on disadvantaged, marginalised, and vulnerable populations in the context of pandemics and other public health crises? This review identifies gaps in research. For more information, please see: Impacts of social isolation among disadvantaged and vulnerable groups during public health crises.
Our aim is to ensure that, applicants receive feedback on their applications within ten working days of submission however due to unprecedented volumes it may take up to 20 days.
Requests to switch existing ESRC award funding to address Covid-19 research priorities
UKRI has put in place a process to allow researchers to propose repurposing existing ESRC award funding to address COVID-19 research priorities. For further details go to
For further details contact: ESRCcovidresearch@esrc.ukri.org