Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Delivering training courses for environmental scientists 2024

Start application

Apply for funding to deliver training short courses within the NERC remit, focusing on areas of identifiable training need.

You must be:

  • based at a UK research organisation eligible for NERC funding
  • in a role that meets the individual eligibility requirements

Participants of the training should be aligned to NERC remit.

Total budget is £600,000 equating to 10 to 15 awards. All costs will be funded at 100% direct costs. Under certain circumstances, you may request up to £100,000.

Funded training initiatives should take place within a year of the grant being awarded.

Update: The closing date has been extended to 15 October 2024.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

You may only be involved in one application submitted to this funding opportunity.

The international project co-lead agreements with International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA and Norway do not apply to this funding opportunity.

You may include project partners who will contribute to the proposed training initiative.

Successful applicants from previous NERC Training Short Course (TSC) funding opportunities are eligible to apply for a TSC award and can apply to have their previously successful courses renewed. However, success in a previous NERC funding opportunity is not a guarantee that an award will be successful in this funding round and all applications will be subject to the same assessment process.

Existing NERC-funded Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) are eligible to apply to this competition for funding to support training initiatives aligned with, but in addition to, their existing DTP and CDT student training programmes. Applications may not request funding to support activities already funded through active training grants. Applications must demonstrate that the proposed training is not duplicative of existing training.

Training courses delivered by NERC DTPs and CDTs must be open and advertised to attendees beyond the DTP or CDT. Places on courses must be offered according to the scheme priority criteria.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

What we're looking for


We invite applications for Training Short Course (TSC) awards for training initiatives within our science remit.

You can apply to the non-directed aspect of the funding opportunity or apply to the directed priority areas.

NERC directed priority areas

Future marine research infrastructure priority area

Our Future Marine Research Infrastructure programme is considering options to replace the RRS James Cook which would maintain or enhance the current capability while also supporting UKRI’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy. The use of marine autonomous systems (MAS) may play a larger role within that capability in future and in new ways than currently planned. To support the adoption of MAS technology across the science community and potentially enable novel approaches to addressing current and future science priorities, training initiatives are invited that aim to increase awareness of the technical specifications of MAS and their use in sustained and experimental ocean observation. It is hoped that this initiative would both accelerate the adoption of innovative observational techniques and enhance best practice methodologies for MAS.

A minimum of £100,000 funding approximately one to three courses is ringfenced for this priority area.

Digital skills priority area

NERC’s Digital Strategy 2021 to 2030 highlights skills as a foundational pillar to support digitally enabled environmental science. Applications are welcome for training short courses which underpin one or more of the following strategic themes:

  • data stewardship – enhancing our data services for accessibility and interoperability
  • data analysis, understanding and visualisation – supporting the current and future computational capacity needed for environmental science
  • modelling and simulation – supporting the development and use of new technologies such as digital twins and artificial intelligence

NERC non-directed

All training initiatives must fall within our science remit but may also include training at the interface between these areas and other disciplines, where many major research challenges exist. We particularly encourage initiatives that provide significant added value to other NERC priorities and investments, such as NERC’s strategic research programmes, or NERC remit areas related to the UKRI strategy.

Priority areas can include both discipline and remit specific and transferable skills (for example mentoring; project management; diversity, equity, and inclusion training).

We also welcome bids where some of the directed digital themes are embedded into the training scope, but do not focus specifically on digital skills.

For information on the training we support through our doctoral programmes visit career and skills development.

Training initiatives may take a variety of forms (including but not extensively):

  • short courses
  • workshops
  • field courses
  • e-learning, webinars or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • summer schools

Training initiatives may form part of an accredited Continuing Professional Development (CPD), Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma.

All initiatives must offer places as priority to NERC-funded PhD students and UKRI funded environmental scientists working within academic or non-academic settings for future careers in research and other contexts. Places can also be available to those working in a sector or discipline aligned to our science remit.

Places can also be offered to current or past NERC-funded PhD students to fill training and skills gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note, NERC Fellows (for example independent research fellowships) and NERC-sponsored fellows (for example NERC Daphne Jackson Trust Fellows) are eligible for places. Where there is competition for course places between priority candidates, or between non-priority candidates, the grant holder should offer places to applicants according to the applicant training need and impact that receiving the training will have on them.

Refer to the UKRI best practice principles in doctoral recruitment which sets out the minimum considerations for training grant holders in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

We expect you to engage as appropriate with relevant non-academic stakeholders, particularly users of our research, when developing and delivering training.


The duration of this award is 12 months.

Funding available

There is a total budget of £600,000 available for the scheme and we intend to support approximately 10 to 15 awards. Direct costs will be funded at 100%.

You can apply for up to £60,000 to run a training initiative. However, under certain circumstances, you may request up to £100,000 with further justification.

What we will fund

The maximum that you can apply for to run a training initiative is £60,000 although it is expected that most training initiatives will request £20,000 to £50,000 in total. You may however request up to £100,000 with further justification. Funding above £60,000 will be awarded at the discretion of the panel. For example, we anticipate that fieldwork courses will be more expensive than remote courses. Failure to provide additional sufficient justification will limit the amount of funding awarded to a maximum of £60,000.

Funding should be calculated on a per attendee (place on the training course) basis and you may request up to £10,000 in justified direct costs per attendee, although it is expected that most initiatives will require between £1,000 and £3,000 per attendee and applications will normally look to fund between 10 to 30 attendees.

The cost per attendee requested should include, where appropriate, support for travel and subsistence costs for attendees to attend the training. Funding to cover staff travel, subsistence costs, venue hire, materials and consumables can be included. Funding to cover staff salary can be included in the cost per attendee calculation. Staff salary requested can cover time spent preparing and delivering the training course.

You must provide a breakdown of costs for your proposed training to enable the panel to assess the costs associated with the proposed training at a per attendee level and identify costs requested under each heading. If you fail to provide this information, then your application will be rejected for this funding opportunity.

The assessment panel may recommend to us that individual costs, or the overall cost of an application, be reduced prior to making an offer of award. We will contact you during the post assessment process about any changes.

These awards are cash limited and additional funding will not be made available to supplement any awards.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • PhD studentship costs (for example stipend costs)
  • facilities costs
  • cruise costs
  • equipment costs
  • estates and indirect costs
  • training currently funded through a Doctoral Training Partnership or Centres for Doctoral Training

For examples of current NERC research centre training courses see the research centre training programme.

Services and facilities

You cannot apply to use a facility or resource in your application.

Ship-time and marine facilities

You cannot apply to use ship-time or marine facilities.

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Antarctic Logistics Support

You cannot apply to use NERC BAS Antarctic logistics support.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

Responsible research

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. This is not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set out in the NERC responsible business statement.

Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment
  • the local community
  • equality, diversity and inclusion

You should consider the responsible research context of your project, not the host institution as a whole. You should take action to enhance your responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant, and their wider team, to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service so please ensure that your organisation is registered. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

Watch our recording on how to apply for an opportunity in the Funding Service.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email
    Allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. You should:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • ensure that files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. You should use your discretion when including references and prioritise those most pertinent to your application.

Reference should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors, for example (Smith, Research Paper, 2019).

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.


We must receive your application by 15 October 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

NERC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

NERC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity on What NERC has funded.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information.  Make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • research and innovation associates
  • visiting researchers
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • technician
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

The project lead is responsible for setting up and completing the application process on the Funding Service.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions


Word limit: 500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • has a clear vision and objectives with tracking measures
  • outlines the organisations’ and partnerships’ research and innovation expertise in designated disciplines to provide training and address skills and capacity challenges
  • describes its anticipated outcomes and impact for society and the economy, outlines the strategies to achieve them

The Vision should:

  • identify, justify and evidence national need and demand for training of this nature and its outcomes

If applying for Future marine research infrastructure funding you should show:

  • how the proposed training will advance the UK science community’s understanding of how Marine Autonomous System (MAS) technology deployed at a larger scale might lead to novel ways of addressing future science priorities

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

References may be included within this section.

There is no additional detail required if applying within the digital skills priority area.


Word limit: 500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

You should demonstrate how your training short course will:

  • have identified, realistic training outcomes within areas of identifiable training need relevant to the NERC science remit
  • show well-justified, excellent quality training content delivered in an appropriate manner to provide confidence that the training outcomes will be met
  • use the appropriate scale to meet training delivery outcomes and impact national training needs

If applying for Future marine research infrastructure funding you should show:

  • the ‘learning journey’ from understanding the technology, to how to measure the ocean in new ways that support frontier science

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

References may be included within this section.

There is no additional detail required if applying within the digital skills priority area.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,650

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

The word limit for this section is 1,650 words: 1,150 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

References may be included within this section.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 250

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations
  • consideration for preventing environmental harm and enhancing environmental benefit in line with NERC’s responsible business statement

If you are collecting or using data, identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which your study will comply

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Demonstrating a commitment to DEI

Word limit: 500

How are you showing a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in your work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response
  • consideration that attendee shortlisting and recruitment is fair and transparent
  • that the proposed training will make the attendee experience as inclusive as possible
  • effective monitoring and reporting to foster a diverse and inclusive environment

Within the ‘Demonstrating a commitment to EDI’ section we also expect you to provide:

  • information on the use of a standardised shortlisting matrix and provision of DEI guidance for staff involved in the recruitment process
  • information on ensuring all staff receive appropriate DEI training
  • information on signposting of courses and how provisions will be made to ensure inclusion
  • consideration of course delivery to accommodate variable circumstances where possible

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Refer to the UKRI best practice principles in doctoral recruitment which sets out the minimum considerations for training grant holders in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Project partners

Provide details about any project partners’ contributions.

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • project partner contact name and email address
  • type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 500

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You should indicate how many places you are requesting funding for. It is expected that most training initiatives will request between 10 to 30 places.

Funding should be calculated on a per attendee (place on the training course) basis, and you may request up to £10,000 in justified direct costs per attendee. Although it is expected that most initiatives will require between £1,000 to £3,000 per attendee.

The cost per attendee requested should include:

  • support for travel and subsistence costs for attendees to attend the training (where appropriate)
  • funding to cover staff travel
  • subsistence costs
  • venue hire
  • materials and consumables

Funding to cover staff salary should include information concerning costs attributable to staff time spend preparing and delivering training. Staff salary costs should be split evenly per attendee to calculate the ‘per attendee’ cost.

Indirect and estate costs must not be included.

If you are requesting funding greater than £60,000 then include additional justification for this request.

You must provide a breakdown of costs for your proposed training to enable the panel to assess the costs associated with the proposed training at a per attendee level.

The overall total requested cost should be a single figure entered under ‘exceptions – other’ and zero costs should be entered against any other heading.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Assessment panel

We will invite experts to assess your application against the assessment criteria for this funding opportunity. We will rank it alongside other applications after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.


We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria against which your application will be assessed are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • demonstrating a commitment to DEI
  • resources and cost justification

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of a funding opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

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

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity, contact

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

You can also find information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email

Include in the subject line: Delivering training courses for environmental scientists; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Our commitment to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms which deprive a person of their liberty in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain, such as:

  • slavery
  • servitude
  • human trafficking
  • forced and compulsory labour

We are committed to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and the abolition of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Reporting requirements

All successful applicants will be required to report on their training initiative. This information is requested so that engagement across priority skills areas can be determined and will be used to determine the format of future awards of this nature.

Grant holders will be expected to report as follows:

  • number of applications received
  • number of places awarded to:
    • NERC PhD Students
    • Early Career Researchers
  • general feedback regarding the competition
  • applicant feedback regarding the course

We will distribute appropriate proformas well ahead of the deadlines for the collection of the data.

The collated data will inform future short course funding opportunities and may also feed into the provision of training courses across our postgraduate training portfolio.


  • 6 June 2024
    Assessment panel date updated in timeline section.
  • 3 June 2024
    Summary, timeline and How to apply sections updated to include the new closing date.

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