Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Engaged Environmental Science

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Invited applications to apply for funding to deliver exemplar projects that demonstrate excellence in engaged environmental science research through equitable public partnerships.

We welcome:

  • environmental science research responding to both scientific and public needs
  • equitable public partnerships
  • leaders in engaged research

The full economic cost (FEC) can be up to £1,000,000. We will fund 80% of the FEC, with exceptions.

The award is up to four years.

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you following a successful outline application.

Who can apply

You can only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following a successful outline application.

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

This funding opportunity is open to invited lead applicants, as members of an inclusive Research Leadership Team. Members of the team may have changed from the outline phase. The team should include both researchers and members of the public and public intermediaries. Full information about the inclusion of the Research Leadership Team is detailed in the ‘What we’re looking for’ section.

Project co-leads (previously co-investigators) can include:

  • individuals working across academic disciplines, or fields outside academia
  • interdisciplinary specialists
  • individuals who can demonstrate a capability to collaborate with experts from other disciplines to generate innovative engaged research

Due to the specific remit of this funding opportunity, you can include project co-leads (co-investigators) from business, third sector, or government bodies that cannot fund their own participation based on the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) policy. This is an exception for this funding opportunity and outside normal NERC eligibility rules. Eligible costs can be requested at 100% but must not exceed 30% of the overall cost of the grant. For full details, see ESRC guidance on the inclusion of UK business, third sector or government body project co-leads on applications. For this funding opportunity, this would also include funding for community organisations that cannot fund their own participation.

Other collaborators who are not typically eligible for UKRI funding, including members of the public and public intermediaries can have a role in the research as project partners and be funded as below:

  • project partners: people who will not receive funding directly from the award but will have an integral role in the proposed project. Minor Directly Incurred costs are acceptable, for example to facilitate collaboration
  • subcontractors: people responsible for providing a service only
  • dual roles: enable the organisation or individual to act as project partner and to be paid non-minor costs to be covered via a subcontract (however this must be fully justified). An example of where dual roles might be required is when an individual is involved in the project on an in-kind basis as a project partner, but their organisation is also being funded to deliver a specific service to the project

Public and public intermediaries

The public refers to any individual or group of people (community) acting in a non-professional capacity.

Public communities include:

  • people connected to a place, or with a common identity, interest or practice. For example, a local walking group, a gardening club, people with respiratory conditions and students
  • people particularly affected by, with lived experiences of, or close connections to environmental science issues or research

Public engagement may require partnering with intermediary people acting in their professional capacity. These people can be included on the application, but not as ‘the public voice’, unless it is clear they are able to represent a particular community and their needs and views effectively.

Public intermediaries include:

  • people part of public-facing groups such charities, learned societies, local authorities, local government, commercial companies providing a public service, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and non-profit civil society organisations
  • practitioners able to connect with particular members of the public, such as artists, creatives and research practitioners (in the broadest sense: theatre, music, film, dance, photography, comedy and so on)

It may also be valuable to work with public engagement, impact, evaluation and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) specialists, and project managers or facilitators.

Engagement activities must focus on the UK public and may be located in specific places in the UK. We encourage multidisciplinary research and collaborations with other UK organisations.

As a secondary audience, you may plan to engage with audiences internationally.

International applicants

We do not fund overseas organisations, except for specific costs for project co-leads (previously co-investigator) from Norway and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Read more about this in the NERC eligibility guidance for applicants.

You should include all other international collaborators (or UK partners not based at approved organisations) as project partners. This includes organisations from the business or financial sectors.

Project partners fund their own involvement. We will only fund minor incidental expenses, such as some travel costs, if needed for project partners.

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

Engaged environmental science: public engagement with environmental science research to move from environmental diagnosis to environmental cure

We are looking to fund three exemplar projects that demonstrate excellence in engaged environmental science research.

The funded projects will exemplify what an excellent engaged research project that could be funded through NERC discovery or strategic science would look like.

Projects will deliver environmental science research outputs and outcomes through the employment of excellent engaged research methodologies and approaches alongside other research and innovation methodologies to deliver quality environmental science outcomes and impacts.

Put simply, we wish to see high quality environmental science delivered through including public engagement methodologies, and for the successful teams to show how public engagement enhanced the research, sharing learning with others.

It is our ambition that this investment will deliver high-quality engaged research applications that could be eligible across our grant funding opportunities, in line with our strategic ambitions, and be used to inspire wider uptake of an engaged research model.

Engaged research is conducted with, by and for members of the public and public intermediaries, over any or all stages of a research process, from co-creating research objectives and plans; to collaborating on research delivery to sharing outcomes of research.

Projects will deliver high quality environmental science research that must respond to both:

  • scientific needs within NERC remit
  • needs of public and community groups


Projects will plan, deliver and evaluate engaged environmental science research and innovation that delivers both high quality environmental scientific research outputs and outcomes and high-quality public engagement, to address a significant environmental science question.

Alongside robust environmental science plans for delivery, the engaged elements of the proposed project will:

  • demonstrate the benefit of engaged research as an effective environmental science research methodology
  • generate positive change in society, economy, environment and other types of outcomes and impacts
  • exemplify responsible research, for example through listening, collaborating with and responding to members of the public to ensure the research conducted is relevant to different groups of people

Further, projects will create or develop relevant, sustainable, and equitable research partnerships and research strategies between members of the public or public intermediaries and research and researchers. For example, this could include specific groups in specific places engaging in research on a specific place-based environmental science research challenge, or; nationally dispersed groups with a stake in a particular environmental challenge, for example a health condition affected by the environment. See the section on “public and public intermediaries” for further guidance on who these partnerships could be built with.

Finally, projects will foster engaged research leadership in the environmental science community and civil society. Research Leadership Team members will champion and raise the profile of engaged research methodologies as part of a scientific team’s toolkit for delivering impactful, quality research and build the profile and capacity to engage relevant members of the public and public intermediaries. This may be before, during or at the end of the research. Examples could include:

  • championing engaged research methodologies through research leadership with national and international peers in the relevant scientific disciplinary context. For example: sharing learning, experience and outputs of engaged research at high profile environmental science conferences and other networking and professional development fora; bringing awareness of the contribution of engaged research methodologies to research outputs into published articles; other advocacy and leadership with the environmental science community
  • promoting team professional development. For example, coaching and mentoring others in their engaged research practice; encouraging early career researchers in delivering engaged research; supporting professional development and skill sharing in the investigator team, including non-academic partners
  • supporting leadership and capacity building in civil society based on what communities are interested in
  • engaging in other activities for inspiring and encouraging uptake of engaged research methodologies in the environmental science research community and civil society, including learning from successful models in other research disciplines

Public engagement

The definitions which NERC uses as part of this funding opportunity are included in the ‘Additional information’ section.

You must explain the evidence and rationale behind your choices in public engagement, including the members of the public and public intermediaries you are partnering with, the purpose of the engagements, where in the research cycle you are engaging, the engagement methods used and so on. Plans must also reflect the capacities and capabilities of the whole Research Leadership Team.

Public engagement processes used as part of engaged research could include the following (not exhaustive list), when they are meaningful and beneficial to all parties:

  • citizen research (including citizen science)
  • collaboration and collaborative research (including co-design, co-creation, co-production)
  • consultation (including citizens jury or panel)
  • encounters
  • enquiry services
  • events
  • exhibitions and exhibits
  • formal and informal learning
  • networks
  • performances
  • workshops
  • writing

Out of scope approaches include:

  • any one-way engagement methodologies (these can be a small part of a wider research project, but cannot be the sole focus of the engaged research)
  • research on the public as ‘subjects’, for example participant recruitment, social science research about public engagement
  • citizen science approaches where data is captured by members of the public but does not bring significant mutual benefit to both research and public
  • science communication where information about research is shared with the public, but specific benefits are not felt in research and researchers
  • partnerships solely between academics or academic institutions
  • public engagement with science in general (not research)
  • tokenistic engagement (engagement without mutual benefit to all parties)

You must plan to evaluate the research project collectively, for example through co-creating and editing a live theory of change with vision and outcomes, evaluating the engagement of the leadership team.

Research leadership team

Applications must create a Research Leadership Team founded on equitable partnerships with members of the public and public intermediaries. Examples of achieving this could be through:

  • ensuring equity across all the project members with clear roles and relationships, lines of responsibility and accountability, ways of working and safeguarding practices
  • listening, collaborating and responding to needs, challenges and opportunities (with ability to adapt in-line with complex and uncertain situations), reciprocal learning
  • planning in all costs associated with inclusion of the Research Leadership Team are fully justified and planning sufficient time for engagement and partnership activities
  • considering potential issues of intellectual property
  • creating a clear governance and management plan including information about how this is appropriate to the project


The duration of this award is up to four years.

Projects must start by 1 October 2024.

Funding available

The maximum cost of the main research project can be up to £1 million.

We will fund 80% of the FEC with the following exceptions:

  • justified equipment would be funded at 100%
  • eligible costs for international project co-lead (previously co-investigator) involvement would be funded at 100%
  • project co-leads (previously co-investigators) from business, third sector, or government bodies that cannot fund their own participation can be costed for at 100% for direct eligible costs (for full details, please see ESRC guidance on the inclusion of UK business, third sector or government body project co-leads on applications), but must not exceed 30% of the overall cost of the grant. For this funding opportunity, this would also include funding for community organisations that cannot fund their own participation

What we will fund

  • facilities costs

What we will not fund

  • PhD studentship costs
  • shiptime and marine equipment

Services and facilities

You can apply to use a facility or resource in your funding application.

You should discuss your application with the facility or service at least two months before the funding opportunity’s closing date to:

  • discuss the proposed work in detail
  • receive confirmation that they can provide the services required within the timeframe of the funding

The facility will provide a technical assessment that includes the calculated cost of providing the service. NERC services and facilities must be costed within the limits of the funding.

You should not submit the technical assessment with the application, but you must confirm you have received it.

For more information, see the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook.

Read the full list of NERC facilities that require a technical assessment.

High Performance Computing (HPC) and the large research facilities at Harwell have their own policies for access and costing.

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.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants (only Norway and IIASA agreements apply), project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

Data management

You must adhere to UKRI open research policy and NERC data policy and complete the ‘Data management and sharing’ question.

For details of data centres, see the NERC Environmental Data Service.

We will pay the data centre directly on behalf of the programme for archival and curation services, but you should ensure that you request sufficient resource to cover preparation of data for archiving by the research team. Additional services from the data centres, such as database development or a specialist in project data management during your project, will need to be discussed with the relevant data centre prior to submission, costs for additional services will need to be included in your application.

If producing data relevant to the ESRC Research Data Policy, you should also:

  • demonstrate that you comply with ESRC’s Research Data Policy. This should include confirmation that existing datasets have been reviewed and why currently available datasets are inadequate for the proposed research. You should cover any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data, including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical issues
  • explain how data collected, generated or acquired through the proposed research (such as primary input into research and first order results of that research) will be managed, including planning for the research through the life cycle of the award until data is accepted for archiving by the UK Data Service (UKDS). See the importance of managing and sharing data on the UKDS website for further information
  • critically consider any challenges to data sharing (for example, copyright or data confidentiality), with possible solutions discussed to optimise data sharing. Most data collected, generated or acquired as a result of economic and social research can be successfully archived and shared. However, some research data are more sensitive than others. It is a responsibility of the grant holders to consider all issues related to confidentiality, ethics, security and copyright before initiating the research

For arts and humanities research data, we do not require a specific repository; it is for you to identify the place which best corresponds to your data and organisational provision.

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.

Ethical research

You must ensure that the proposed research will be carried out to a high ethical standard.

You must clearly state how any potential ethical, safeguarding and health and safety issues have been considered and will be addressed, ensuring that all necessary ethical approval is in place and all risks are minimised before the award commences. Full information is available on UKRI guidance on ethical research. All applications must comply with ESRC framework for research ethics.

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. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

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 Please 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.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:

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 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format


We must receive your application by 30 April 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

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 count: 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, so 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 (including public need and scientific need)
  • 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)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

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

The project co-lead international may only be used for collaborators based at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and in Norway, where NERC has collaboration agreements in place. We do not otherwise accept project co-lead (international) applicants.

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

Application questions


Word count: 1,500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the fields or areas
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be
  • explain how your project delivers engaged environmental science research that addresses important scientific questions and public needs, providing evidence and rationale

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.


Word count: 1,500

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
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed (if applicable)
  • 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

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work
  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan including milestones and timelines in the form of a Gantt chart or similar
  • provided a clear approach to governance

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word count: 1,500

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 service.

The word count for this section is 1,500 words: 1,000 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 relationship
  • 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.

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 count: 1,000

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

State the names of any bodies you will require approval from and whether you already have it. If it is not yet in place, then give an indicative timeframe for when it will be.

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 service.

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.


Word count: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you have to attach a facility form, for example then upload it as a PDF. If you need to upload multiple forms, then combine them into a single PDF.

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Upload guidance

Upload a single PDF containing facility forms ensuring it is no larger than 8MB, if applicable.

For the file name, use the Funding Service number the system gives to your application when you create an application, immediately followed by the words ‘facility forms’. Then use the ‘upload’ button.

Unless specifically requested, do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Once you have uploaded, mark this section as complete and move to the next one.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan that clearly details how you will comply with UKRI’s published data sharing policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.


  • which NERC data centre is required to archive the data
  • whether the total volume of data is likely to be larger than 1TB
  • any other detail on how you will comply with NERC data policy
  • how data accessibility for both private and public end users will be enhanced

If producing data relevant to the ESRC Research Data Policy, you should also:

  • demonstrate that you comply with ESRC’s Research Data Policy
  • explain how data collected, generated or acquired through the proposed research will be managed, including planning for the research through the life cycle of the award until data is accepted for archiving by the UK Data Service (UKDS)
  • critically consider any challenges to data sharing (for example, copyright or data confidentiality), with possible solutions discussed to optimise data sharing


Word count: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

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

Resources and cost justification

Word count: 1,000

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want to be assured that:

  • all resources are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • the project will make optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

If you have equipment costs, input these under the ‘Exceptions’ heading on the Funding Service. This will allow them to be funded at 100% at the awarding stage.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

There are two stages to this funding opportunity:

  • outline application stage
  • full application stage

Only applicants successfully shortlisted at the outline stage have been invited to submit to this full application stage.


We will invite experts in both environmental science research and public engagement to assess the quality of your application and rank it alongside other applications.


We aim to complete the full stage assessment process by June 2024.


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
  • ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

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

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of applications across the needs of this funding opportunity. We call this a portfolio approach. As such, alongside prioritising against the assessment criteria for each application, we will be considering a spread across a range of:

The NERC team responsible for the funding opportunity will make sure that funds are allocated across these areas. This may mean that a proposal that ranks lower than yours is successful.

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. 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 an 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 proposal, 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 the Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: Engaged Environmental Science; 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 UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection

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

Additional info


  • public and public intermediaries is defined in the ‘Who can apply’ section
  • public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public
  • engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit
  • we use the following definition and concept of engaged research: “encompasses the different ways that researchers meaningfully interact with various people over any or all stages of a research process, from issue formulation, the production or co-creation of new knowledge, to knowledge evaluation and dissemination”, including academic knowledge and forms of knowledge or practice held within non-academic communities

Public engagement and engaged research


Research Excellence Framework

Reporting requirements

If you are successful in getting funding, you will need to report your research outcomes through a service called Researchfish. This is required annually and continues for up to five years after funding ends. Find out about UKRI reporting requirements.

A final report at the end of the partnership stage of projects is required, demonstrating how the research strategy and collaborations developed and any associated outputs. A Final Expenditure Statement will also need to be submitted.

NERC additionally requires reporting and evaluation documents and meetings, details of which will be shared with successful applicants.

Webinar for potential applicants

We held a webinar on 29 November 2023. This provided more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Watch the webinar.

Passcode: $0NMyhFK

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.

Observing the assessment process for this funding opportunity

Those without formal grant panel experience may apply to digitally attend the full application panel meetings as observers, as a professional development opportunity.

This opportunity is available for researchers, PhD students, and public engagement professionals who support NERC-funded researchers and NERC-funded projects, as part of their professional development.

Terms of observation attendance:

  • attendees must be able and willing to attend an allocated date and set time of panel meetings
  • attendees must adhere to conflict of interest and confidentiality agreements
  • attendees must offer feedback about the process and their experience to inform future funding opportunities

To be eligible for grant panel observation opportunity you must not be named on or be involved in an application for this funding opportunity. In addition, you must not have a conflict of interest with any of the applications being discussed.

To apply for this opportunity please email by 31 March 2024 at 4:00pm UK time with no more than 200 words outlining the following:

  • name, job role, institution, and email address
  • why you are unable to access this experience elsewhere in your job role
  • how this will benefit your professional development
  • how this will benefit research projects, public engagement projects, and similar which you work on
  • how you intend to share your learnings from the panel observation with others within your team, organisation, and similar

By emailing in your application for this opportunity you agree with the terms outlined above. If you are unable to make the panel date, then your place will be offered to another interested party.

The NERC public engagement team will review the applications. If there are more applications than spaces, then we will invite individuals who demonstrate the most potential impact in their email statement. We will award places ensuring a diversity of job roles and institutions.

Please note that those selected to observation panels will attend short sections of the meeting (that is, not the whole meeting), and will not be permitted to view the final shortlisting process.

Unsuccessful applicants for this observation opportunity will not receive individual assessment feedback as to why an observation place was not awarded. We will provide generic feedback as to the characteristics of successful applications.

Additional info

Engaged Environmental Science outline guidance (PDF, 205KB)

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.