Apply for access to high-performance computing facilities - EPSRC

The Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council-funded (EPSRC) high-performance computing (HPC) services provide access to a range of specialised computational capabilities that are not available at local university level.

This call provides researchers with an open and flexible route to computational support for high-quality projects in EPSRC’s remit. It combines what was previously the ARCHER Resource Allocation Panel, the Tier-2 Open Access call and ARCHER2 Pioneers call. We expect that the call will open every six months.

The HPC services can support a wide variety of activities. We particularly encourage applications that:

  • involve early career researchers
  • provide an opportunity to onboard and train new users
  • significantly push the boundaries in computational research using HPC in your field

You can apply for access to the following computing services:

  • most of the EPSRC-funded Tier-2 HPC services, including:
    • Kelvin-2 (NI-HPC)
    • Cirrus
    • Bede (NICE)
    • Baskerville
    • Sulis

    This application process is purely for compute resource. No funding is available to successful applicants. There is no upper limit to the amount of compute resource you can apply for, but it must be justified and deemed appropriate to the objectives of your project.

    Key dates

    The following dates apply to 2023 applications:

    • opening date for applications: 16 October 2023
    • technical assessment submission deadline: 17 November 2023 at 4:00pm UK time
    • closing date for applications: 1 December 2023 at 4:00pm UK time
    • panel meeting: week commencing 11 December 2023
    • expected project start dates: week commencing 1 January 2024


Who can apply

You must be based at a UK institution eligible for funding. This includes:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

Individual eligibility

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • you are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • you hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support it would give a permanent employee
  • you hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship
  • you hold fellowships under other schemes (contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which it will consider on a case-by-case basis)

Research technical professionals, including research software engineers, are considered as academic employees and are eligible to be a principal or co-investigator under the same terms as traditional researchers.

Check if you’re eligible for funding.

If you’re a student looking to access the HPC resources through this application route, you must seek an eligible principal investigator to apply on your behalf. The principal investigator:

  • must oversee the preparation of the proposal
  • will be responsible for how you use any time awarded


You can only be an investigator (principal investigator or co-investigator) on a maximum of one proposal to each service.

Each proposal that includes you as an investigator (principal investigator or co-investigator) must be a unique and distinct project.

What we're looking for

EPSRC is looking to support a portfolio of projects across the HPC ecosystem, including but not limited to:

  • extended feasibility or proof of concept studies (at a larger scale than is possible in pump priming projects)
  • computational projects which may not warrant a full grant application
  • computational projects linking consecutive grant applications or aiding the preparation of a full grant or fellowship application
  • large amounts of compute for ambitious, computationally intensive simulations and calculations
  • collaborations with industrial and international partners
  • increasing the development of computational science skills, such as allowing students to work jointly with principal investigators to achieve the aims of the proposed research, leading to improved software and coding skills, and career paths

Your proposal should align with at least one of the aims.

To be eligible for this call, the focus of the proposed research must fall (minimum 50%) within the remit of EPSRC.

Access to HPC streams

This call is split into two project streams, depending on the resources you apply for.

Main stream

Projects can be up to 12 months in length.

Pioneer stream (ARCHER2 only)

Projects can be up to 2 years in length.

Minimum request of 165,000 computer unit (CU) per year.

Notional values used for the purposes of this call are:

  • £0.03 per CPU (Cirrus) or core hour (Kelvin-2, SULIS)
  • £0.75 per GPU (Baskerville, Bede, CIRRUS, Kelvin-2, SULIS)
  • £0.20 per CU (ARCHER2)

Responsible innovation

We have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will:

  • initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor
  • encourage our research community to do likewise

We expect you to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that project has overlooked or not appropriately accounted for any ethical concerns.

International collaboration

If you plan to include international collaborators in your proposal, you should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration while protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Other guidance

Guidance on writing your proposal.

What you can apply for

You can only apply for compute resource. The services available are:

  • ARCHER2, the Tier-1 national supercomputer
  • most of the EPSRC-funded Tier-2 HPC services, including:
    • Kelvin-2 (NI-HPC)
    • Cirrus
    • Bede (NICE)
    • Baskerville
    • Sulis

    Refer to the service specification document to help you decide which service to apply to. You can download this document, along with the technical assessment and application forms, from the access to high performance computing application documents.

    You cannot use this process to apply for EPSRC’s final Tier-2 service, the Materials and Molecular Modelling Hub (MMM Hub). Further details on accessing MMM Hub are available in the service specification documentation.

    You can find indicative levels of the computational resource available at each service, as well as service-specific restrictions on projects, in the supporting documentation. Precise levels are subject to variations in the current usage of the services. You should check these requirements before preparing your application.

    We recommend that you contact the service you are applying to as soon as possible to:

    • discuss whether the level of resource you intend to request is realistic and reasonable
    • refine your requirements while completing your technical assessment

    EPSRC reserves the right to adjust the overall level of computational resource available and delay project start dates where circumstances require it.

    In order to maximise the utilisation of the HPC resources available for this call, EPSRC reserves the right to reassign proposals to different services. The Citizen Space application has a question where you can indicate which services you would prefer or which would not be suitable for your proposed work.

    Services will expect users to either use existing software on the system or to build their own software. They will provide support where possible.

    EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

    What we will not support

    There are some circumstances where you should not apply through this route.

    ARCHER2 time for High-End Computing (HEC) consortia projects

    Projects in the remit of the HEC consortia cannot apply for ARCHER2 time through this route. Instead, you should apply through the relevant consortium.

    Find out about the different scientific consortia.

    UK Car-Parrinello Consortium (UKCP) and Materials Chemistry Consortium (MCC) remit projects

    Projects in the remit of either the UK Car-Parrinello Consortium (UKCP) or the Materials Chemistry Consortium (MCC) are expected to be accommodated through their allocations on MMM Hub unless the service is not technically appropriate for the work.

    Where the MMM Hub service is not technically appropriate for your proposed work, you may use this application process to apply for access to a suitable Tier-2 service. You should ask the relevant consortia to confirm that this is the case directly and in writing with EPSRC.


    If you are part of an HEC consortium or have institutional access to a Tier-2 service, we strongly recommend that you contact the consortium or service before applying. You need to ensure that this application route is the correct way for you to request compute time.

    If you already have access to a service via a consortium or institution, you will need to explain in your application why this route is the most suitable one for you.

    To ensure that funding is not awarded to an ineligible project, you must inform EPSRC in your application if you are a member of an HEC consortium. We will inform the chair of the consortium of details of your application if it is successful.

    EPSRC retains the right to remove allocations (on any EPSRC-funded service) from successful applicants if they breach these exclusions after the award.

How to apply

Stage one: technical assessment

Before submitting an application proposal form, applicants to all streams must obtain a technical assessment completed by a representative of the service they wish to access. This step ensures that the resource request is appropriate and that all technical requirements have been considered before submission.

The technical assessment forms part of the assessment process. You can find the criteria the services will use to assess their technical submission in section two of the technical assessment form. Please note that there are two separate technical assessment forms for the feasibility stream and a combined one for main and pioneers streams.

We will not accept proposals that reuse previous technical assessments without the explicit consent of the service.

Submitting your technical assessment for approval

You should:

The subject header of your submission email should state that this is an ‘access to HPC submission’.

To enable services to process and approve your technical assessment, you must submit it to the relevant service by 17 November 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

EPSRC and the relevant service cannot be held responsible for applications that miss the final deadline if the applicant has not met the deadline specified above for submission of the technical assessment.

We recommended that you encrypt the email request for a technical assessment when you send it to the appropriate service.

Feedback from service technical reviewers

You may receive comments made by technical reviewers on your technical assessment form. You should respond to these by amending the technical aspects of your form. The technical reviewer may recommend applying to a more appropriate service at this stage.

The service will normally return the technical assessment (either approved or with requests for amendments) promptly, dependent on the service and the level of demand at the time of submission.

Once the technical reviewer at the service is satisfied that you have addressed their comments, they will approve your technical assessment. They will return your form by email with sections one and two completed as required for the full application stage.

EPSRC and the services cannot be held responsible for applications that miss the final deadline if the applicant has not met the deadline specified above for submission of the technical assessment.

You should make every effort to submit your assessment in advance of the deadline to help service staff to manage the volume of requests.

Stage two: application survey

Citizen Space application

You must submit your application using the short web form on the research councils Citizen Space system. Each stream has different requirements for this stage. You should ensure you follow the correct guidance for the stream you are applying to.

This form also contains questions to collect applicant diversity data. As this call has combined processes from several previous calls, we wish to monitor participation (in line with the equality impact assessment) to ensure that this new process is fair and does not present any barriers to participation.

Start your application.

You must complete and submit your application, including any mandatory attachments, by 1 December 2023 at 4:00pm UK time. You will not be able to apply after this time.

You must include the following mandatory documents as separate PDF attachments:

  • completed and approved technical assessment form for the service you are applying to access
  • completed application form
  • one-page diagrammatic work plan

You may wish to include the following optional attachments:

  • letters of support (you should combine all letters and submit them as one PDF document)
  • a cover letter (only EPSRC will see this, it will not go to peer review)

No other documentation is allowed. The panel will only consider information contained in the application form, technical assessment, diagrammatic work plan and letters of support.

You should complete all documents in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface and upload them as PDFs.

For advice on writing proposals, see our information on what to include in proposals.

When drafting your document attachments, keep in mind:

  • the assessment criteria, which you can find in the ‘how we will assess your application’ section
  • the level of expertise of the reviewers

The reviewers will draw upon a broad cross-section of HPC users from disciplines in engineering and the physical sciences. We cannot guarantee that there will be an expert for every application area. Your case for support must be easy for an audience with general scientific knowledge to understand

Application form

When completing your application form you should take into account the assessment criteria below. You should also keep in mind that proposals will be assessed by a generalist panel drawn from relevant research areas across EPSRC’s remit with computational expertise.

Download and complete the application form from the access to high performance computing application documents.

Make sure you keep to the maximum page length and restrictions on the various documents when submitting your proposal. Any missing, overlength or unnecessary attachments may result in your proposal being rejected.

Your application should consist of the following sections.

Description of the proposed research and its context (up to two or four pages)

Main stream applications: up to two pages allowed.

Pioneer stream applications: up to four pages allowed.

Briefly list the main objectives of the proposed research. Explain how access to your chosen service will help you to meet these objectives.

Describe your proposed computational research project:

  • detailing the scientific and wider context
  • explaining what you are aiming to achieve with the computational resource and how the project will advance the current context
  • highlighting the novelty and timeliness of the work
  • explaining how the project will deliver or enable high-quality scientific research

Identify any potential applications of the proposed work. Include how it would contribute to computational science, for example, through:

  • generating new codes
  • development of existing codes
  • increased computational efficiency
  • opening up HPC for new scientific areas and industrial sectors

Explain why the service you are applying for is the most appropriate resource for this work.

Importance (up to one page)

Explain why this proposal warrants support in terms of the importance to the UK. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • economic or industrial impacts
  • advancing world-leading research activities
  • identifying how the proposed research contributes to national and EPSRC priority areas

Expertise and track record of the team (up to one page)

Provide details of your track record in:

  • computational science and engineering
  • porting, developing and using codes
  • the use of relevant HPC facilities

Highlight any previous publications or other scientific outputs arising from HPC work related to this application.

If you are new to HPC, explain how you plan to involve partners and use service support to ensure there is sufficient computational expertise to achieve the stated objectives.

Include any other information you think is relevant to demonstrate your suitability to undertake this work.

Resource management (up to two pages)

Explain how you plan to use and manage the allocated computational resources, as approved by the technical assessment. It is important that you only request an allocation you can realistically use in the allocation period.

This should consider:

  • queuing times
  • potential issues with newly ported codes
  • scheduled maintenance periods
  • the time needed to interpret intermediate results

Any compute units you have not used by the end of the period will be lost.

The total number of compute units allocated through this process is limited. You need to demonstrate that your codes can make optimal use of this resource, for example, by providing detailed, relevant benchmarking and scaling data. The panel can recommend a reduction in units or time awarded if the original request is not fully justified.

You will need to describe the staff resources available and how you will use them to:

  • start the project promptly
  • use the resource efficiently
  • finish within the allocation period

State details of any additional financial or technical support for this or related research projects relevant to this application. As this proposal is for computing resources only, you should give details of how any other necessary resources for the project (for example, staff time) will be made available.

If the work has novel elements that could be considered high risk, indicate how you will manage the risks.

Work plan (up to one page)

The diagrammatic work plan should justify the requested amount of time and use of the compute resources.

Letters of support (optional, up to one page per individual letter)

These are for partners (academic or industrial) who are integral to the bid. Letters of support must be on headed paper and be signed and dated within six months of the proposal submission date.

Letters of support are only permitted:

  • from project partners describing cash or in-kind contributions
  • from community groups confirming benefits the research may provide to their research areas

If you want to add key points supporting why the proposal should be funded, you must add them in the proposal itself. You cannot use letters of support as additional space to make the case for the proposal. We will ask you to remove any such letters.

There is no limit on the number of letters of support that you can include in an application. However, you should combine all letters and submit them as one PDF document.

Cover letter

This is optional and there is no page limit.

You can use the proposal cover letter to express any other information that you feel is relevant to your application or to highlight anything that you have discussed and agreed with EPSRC staff beforehand. This may include:

  • maternity leave requirements
  • a declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriate to share in the track record
  • conflict of interest information for EPSRC to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • stating that the application is an invited resubmission

Only EPSRC will see this letter. It will not go to peer review. EPSRC will not share it with the service unless you have specifically requested this. If the letter contains sensitive information, you should state clearly whether the information is confidential.

How we will assess your application

Main stream

In the event of this funding opportunity being so oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment process

Initial triage

For the initial triage, each service will assess the application demand for their service against the amount available for this call.

For each service, if the amount requested is less than the resources available, we will grant access to those applications, subject to a light-touch assessment by the service director using assessment criteria.

If any services are oversubscribed then the triage process will look to reallocate applications between services, where technically appropriate, still subject to a light-touch assessment by the service director using the assessment criteria.

If any services are still oversubscribed, then we will assess projects for those services through the following process.

Reviewers and cross-service panel

Projects will be assigned a number of reviewers (one to two) based on the scale of resources requested. These reviewers will be drawn from a pool of experts recommended by the individual services. A cross-service panel will then consider larger requests and rank the submitted proposals in priority order for allocation.

We will consider all proposals against the relevant assessment criteria.

HPC triaging post-panel meeting

Following the cross-service panel, there will be a final triaging meeting. UK Research and Innovation, in conjunction with the relevant service directors, will decide on the total number of compute units and time to award to the successful projects.

EPSRC expects to notify applicants of their outcomes within 10 working days. Successful applicants should then email the service contact detailed in the service specification document to confirm the start date of their project.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria used to assess main stream proposals are as follows.


The degree to which research excellence is achieved within the proposal itself, or enabled through the proposed computational work. In particular, the:

  • novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact
Resource appropriateness and management

The appropriateness of the computational resource requested for the proposed work and the plans for its utilisation, including whether:

  • it may not be better to conduct the computational work on another available service, such as local university resources
  • the proposal has fully justified the requested computational resources with evidence that it will use the resources efficiently
  • the work plan is appropriate and achievable, demonstrating that there is sufficient staff time dedicated to the project
  • the proposal has considered and appropriately mitigated all potential risks

The degree to which the research, or research enabled through the proposal, contributes to or helps:

  • enhance the UK’s position as a leader in computational skills and HPC techniques
  • maintain the health of other disciplines, addressing key UK societal challenges and future UK economic success, and development of emerging industries
  • complement other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio
Applicant and partnerships

The applicant’s ability to deliver the proposed project, with a focus on the computational elements of the work. In particular, the:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators


Feedback will not be available, except for proposals considered by a panel which specifically requested feedback. Any such feedback will go to the relevant service.

Pioneer stream

If this funding opportunity is so oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the assessment process.

Assessment process

Initial triage

If the amount requested is less than the resources available, we will grant access to those applications, subject to a light-touch assessment by the service director using assessment criteria.

Reviewers and cross-service panel

A cross-service panel of experts will review and prioritise applications. The panel will comprise a broad cross section of HPC users from disciplines in engineering and physical sciences.

EPSRC aims to engage panel members who are experts in working with large HPC compute resources in academia or industry in the research areas of the submitted applications. However, EPSRC cannot guarantee an expert for every exact application area. Therefore, it is important that the case for support can be understood by a general, scientifically and computationally literate audience.

EPSRC expects to notify applicants of their outcomes within 10 working days. Successful applicants should then email the service contact detailed in the service specification document to confirm the start date of their project.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria will be the same as for the main project stream.


Feedback will not be available except where specifically requested by the panel. In that case, EPSRC will communicate the feedback.


Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on writing your proposal, contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about access to high-performance computing

Research Infrastructure team


Richard Bailey


Include ‘Access to HPC’ in the subject line.

Last updated: 16 November 2023

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