Discovery science - NERC



The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) discovery science spans the full breadth of sciences and methodologies required to advance our understanding of the Earth system and to reveal people’s impact on environmental processes. It is driving policy change and catalysing innovation in the UK and worldwide.

NERC discovery science funding supports environmental research driven by curiosity and imagination rather than our strategic priorities. We welcome, multi and interdisciplinary research, designed, supported, and delivered in partnership with other research funders and research users.

Discovery science grants can support pure, applied, technology-led or policy-driven research that addresses, or provides the means to address, clearly defined scientific questions.

Proposals do not need to be hypothesis-driven and may instead focus on an exploratory approach or the development of a new technology.

Eligible researchers can submit a proposal in any area of research that is predominantly within NERC’s remit.

If your research spans different disciplines, read more about the Cross-Council Remit Agreement.

Annual deadlines for major funding opportunities

Chart showing annual deadlines for major NERC funding opportunities

Annual deadline timeline for major NERC reoccurring funding opportunities

Deadlines for major opportunities including:

  • Pushing the Frontiers (January round): launch September, close January
  • Pushing the Frontiers (July round): launch March, close July
  • Large Grant outline: launch December, close March
  • Large Grant full stage (invite only): launch August, close November
  • Independent Research Fellowships: launch August, close November

Last updated: 20 November 2023

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