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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Research Approval Process

Applying for research funding via POLIS

The notes below provide a brief guide to the key steps in applying for research funding through POLIS and the Centres. If you have any specific queries about these steps, or anything else in the course of an application for research funding which you are uncertain about, please contact the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences' School Research Team by email to discuss.


Opportunities - Eligibility - Approval - Submission

1. Finding funding opportunities

Information about different postdoctoral academic funding options is available from a number of sources. A good general overview of funding opportunities can be found on the shared pages of the Schools of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Funding and Strategic Initiatives, and you will find links to some of the most popular recurring postdoctoral schemes on the POLIS Postdoctoral Job Opportunities page. Research Professional is also an external source of funding news and opportunities which can be configured to send you alerts for schemes meeting defined criteria. Existing members of the University of Cambridge can log in with their UIS details to configure alerts. Please contact the to discuss any schemes you find as soon as you decide to apply in order to ensure that they can be supported by the department.

2. Eligibility

Once you have identified a funding opportunity you wish to apply for, check the funder's scheme notes to confirm that you and the project you wish to carry out are both eligible. Common eligibility criteria for candidates include residency, employment status, and years of postdoctoral experience, but others may apply. Project eligibility criteria may entail restrictions on the types of expenses that can be claimed for and the type of activities that can be carried out.

3. Approval

All research funding proposals must obtain approval from both POLIS' Head of Department and Cambridge's Research Operations Office before being submitted to the funder. This applies as much to projects where POLIS is a collaborator as to where POLIS is the lead. If you are an external applicant for funding, you must confirm in writing the support of a centrally-employed POLIS academic who is willing to sponsor you before seeking Head of Department approval. For some funding schemes with internal competitions or restricted calls managed by the Research Strategy Office, sponsorship will need to be confirmed before an internal application can be received.

a. Head of Department Approval

  • To apply for a Head of Department support letter, or other confirmation of Departmental support for a research application, please complete the grant information coversheet before the funder deadline and send it to the HSS School Research Team including all attached items as requested in the form. Different schemes will have different requirements, so it is strongly advised that you contact us as soon as possible to ensure that we have enough time to meet them.
  • Please submit all request for signed Head of Department letters to theSchool Research Team at least two weeks ahead of the date you need them by. If you require a letter from higher up (at School level, or pro-VC for Research level), then please allow four weeks for this to be completed.
  • Please note that participation in collaborations will require due-diligence background checks to be carried out on the project partners in order to ensure that there is no risk of reputational harm to the Department or the University.
  • Any application with a combined Full Economic Costing of over £1 million (including partner contributions) will need to be cleared at School-level through the Million+ process. Submissions for this process must be made at least 4 weeks prior to the final deadline.

b. Ethics Committee Approval

  • Please see the Ethical Approval page for details on how to request approval from the POLIS Ethics Committee. This will be required for any projects using human participants or sensitive data subject to access controls.
  • The scheduled dates for Ethics Committee meetings in 2022-2023 are as follows: 17 November, 9 March, 15 June.

4. Submission

After departmental approval has been obtained (and School approval where necessary), all applications to external funders must be submitted to the Research Operations Office for checking via both the funder's online portal and Cambridge's internal X5 costing system. This must be done at least 5 days before the final submission deadline in order to allow time to address any errors or issues that are found. Please see the Research Operations Office's own page for more details.

On most funder portals clicking 'Submit' will not submit an application directly to the funder for assessment. Instead, it will first be sent to the Research Operations Office for Institutional Approval. They will then complete the submission after checking the application content against the details that have been logged in X5.

The School Research Team handle all X5 submissions, and can provide support with the preparation of budgets and the costing of items. If necessary, this process can be started before departmental approval is obtained, on the understanding that the application may be rejected by the Research Operations Office if Departmental approval is not confirmed in time for the final deadline.

Where funders receive applications directly, a copy of all application documents required should be sent to the School Research Team so that they can be submitted for checking along with the X5 costing.

Once a submission has been completed, the Research Operations Office will issue a "G" identification number which should be included in any further correspondence regarding the application.

If an application is successful, you will be notified by the funder and provided with an award letter.

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