The specific objective of Societal Challenge 6 – “Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies” (SC6) is to foster a greater understanding of Europe, by providing solutions and supporting inclusive, innovative and reflective European societies. It aims to support an innovative public sector in the context of unprecedented transformations and growing global interdependencies. This is seen as the Societal Challenge most focused on social sciences, arts and humanities (SSH).

The current SC6 work programme, containing all the SC6 funding opportunities, can be found on the European Commission Work Programme 2018-2020 document. This was last updated in July 2019 with new text relating to the topics open between November 2019 and March 2020.

Front cover for th Horizon 2020 work programme.

Societal Challenge 6 is a “top-down” part of Horizon 2020 (H2020) so proposals must directly address the text in the work programme.

You can listen to an introduction to H2020 funding as well as a detailed explanation of all the 2019 SC6 topics in the webinar video found below:

A video introduction to the 2020 SC6 topics will be available shortly.


The SC6 work programme for 2018-2020 is split into three “calls” – migration, transformations and governance. Please note that the word “call” here, in the H2020 context, has a different definition than for ESRC “calls” and instead can be understood as a theme within the broader challenge.

The first call, migration, aims to produce evidence-based recommendations for the global and European governance of migration of third country nationals as well as innovative (including ICT) solutions for the successful integration of migrants into European host societies.

The second, known as transformations, but with the full name “Socio-economic and cultural transformations stemming from the fourth industrial revolution”, aims to address the challenges linked to the compounded socioeconomic and cultural origins and effects in Europe of the fourth industrial revolution in a context of globalisation and digitisation.

The third call, governance, aims to enhance the available evidence base and provide sound policy and technological options in order to develop adapted governance structures at various relevant levels.

The three major themes: Governance, Transformations and Migration


Each broad “call” contains specific “topics” – these “topics” correspond more closely to what ESRC normally refers to as a “call”. Each SC6 topic starts with the name of the “call” within which it is found (Migration, Transformations or Governance); it then has its own topic number (unique within each of the three SC6 “calls”) followed by the year in which the topic closes. After this shorthand unique identifier for each topic, the title is given.

Focus areas

Some topics start with a two-letter prefix, such as “SU” or “DT” – these relate to when a topic is funded under a specific focus area. There are four focus areas: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC), Connecting economic and environmental gains – the Circular Economy (CE), Digitising and transforming European industry and services (DT), and Boosting the effectiveness of the Security Union (SU). These are funded by different directorates – for example, DT topics are funded by DG CONNECT and should have a strong technological element to them.

An image of the example topics

Budget and funding rates

Topics in the SC6 work programme typically fund proposals between €1.5 million and €3 million in size. More specific guidance is given for each topic in the Work Programme itself.

Topics have different expected approaches and outputs, as well as different funding rates, depending on what type of “action” they are. Information on the different actions can be found in section D of the 2018-2020 Work Programme General Annexes.


The evaluation criteria for SC6 proposals can be found in section H of the 2018-2020 Work Programme General Annexes. These evaluation criteria vary according to the type of “action” and whether there is a two-stage submission procedure or not. Please note that different evaluation criteria apply to different parts of H2020 funding – such as for European Research Council (ERC) applications – please contact the relevant NCP for more information if clarity is needed.

Front cover of the general annexes document

EU exit and Societal Challenge 6

As the Withdrawal Agreement has now been ratified, UK scientists, researchers and businesses can continue to participate in, bid for and lead projects in Horizon 2020, as if the UK remained a Member State (including after the UK exits the EU on 31 January 2020). This includes all the funding opportunities available in Societal Challenge 6. Sucessful UK recipients will receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual projects, including projects finishing after the transition period ends in 2020.

For more information, please see the UKRI EU Exit pages, the UK government H2020 Fact Pack, the UKRO Horizon 2020 Factsheets (if you are an UKRO subscriber), or contact the relevant NCP.