Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Funding large or complex nuclear physics projects: outline proposals

Submit an outline proposal to develop a large or complex scientific project. Successful outline proposals will go through a Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) process.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

This opportunity is for the UK nuclear physics community.

You should address science questions within our nuclear physics programme:

  • nuclear structure
  • nuclear astrophysics
  • hadronic physics
  • nuclear physics theory.

Future projects could involve:

  • research and development for new projects
  • participating in new experiments
  • developing new instruments
  • upgrading existing detectors.

Who can apply

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI funding.

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Academic applicants

Academic applicants must meet the normal eligibility requirements for STFC research grant funding.

Check if you’re eligible for funding.

What we're looking for

This is an opportunity for outline proposals.

There is no specific funding available for this outline stage. It is expected a detailed discussion of costs will form part of the PPRP assessment.

STFC is expecting a range of project sizes during this outline stage.

As part of its role in supporting a world leading nuclear physics programme, STFC will be able to fund a new nuclear physics project (or projects) from January 2024.

Projects could involve:

  • research and development for new experiments
  • participating in new experiments
  • developing new instruments
  • upgrading existing detectors.

Proposals are welcome in the scientific areas of:

  • nuclear structure
  • nuclear astrophysics
  • hadronic physics
  • nuclear physics theory.

Nuclear physics research seeks to answer fundamental questions about the universe and our understanding of it. Key science questions include:

  • what governs the structure and behaviour of atomic nuclei
  • what is the origin of the elements
  • how do the properties of hadrons and the quark-gluon plasma emerge from fundamental interactions
  • what is the nature of nuclear matter?

How to apply

This is the first stage of a two-stage process.

This first stage for outline proposals replaces the statement of interest stage for a PPRP application round for the funding large or complex scientific projects opportunity. The second stage is to submit a full proposal to PPRP.

Successful applicants will be contacted to support them through the second stage PPRP process.

Intent to submit

If you are interested in submitting an outline proposal, please email STFC with your project name, subject area and likely institutions involved.

STFC must receive the intent to submit by 19 September 2022.

This will assist us in our planning and setting up of the review panel. This is not a mandatory step.

Deadline for outline proposals

STFC must receive your outline proposal application by 17 October 2022 at 12:00.

They should be emailed to Georgina Freeman and Melanie Kidd (see the ‘contact details’ section).

Supporting documents

This outline proposal should include the following.

Case for support

The case for support must include a justification of resources (one side of A4 maximum) and be no longer than 10 sides of A4 in total.

It must be a PDF attachment, be written in Arial (or equivalent) size 11 font and have a minimum of 2cm margins around each page.

Completed finance table

This must include an estimate of the total full economic cost, the capital construction phase and, where possible, the exploitation phase.

Costs must be sufficiently detailed to show that estimates are reasonable.

Download finance table template (XLSX, 14KB).

Content for the case for support

The case for support should be clear and concise with minimal technical jargon. This outline proposal is not a full submission to PPRP and the page limit reflects the shorter version of this submission.

Required points

The outline proposal case for support should cover the following points briefly, which are taken from the PPRP guidance for full proposals.

Scientific needs: objectives

Provide a description of the intended end result of the project. This description should not just encompass the scientific work of the project but should also articulate the value and benefits of investing in the project.

This end result should be clearly stated so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period. Any intermediate results upon which the final result depends should be identified.

Scientific needs: project description

Provide a description of your proposed contribution to the project. The stage of the project (for example, research and development or construction) should be specified.

The document should highlight any unique contributions, likely global impact and aspects of UK leadership.

Scientific needs: work package breakdown

Provide a breakdown of the work packages of the proposal, including a short summary description of the work and overall cost of each package.

Optionally, a work breakdown structure can also be included as part of this section, where appropriate.

Scientific needs: STFC science and strategy

Identify the specific STFC science opportunities that this project addresses:

  • how does this relate to STFC priorities
  • what aspects are particularly relevant
  • what is its potential scientific impact
  • are there any long-term implications or liabilities that may be generated as a result of investing in this project?
Scientific needs: awareness and context

Describe the present status of related research and development worldwide:

  • where is this research field likely to be in 10 years’ time
  • what is the current state of play
  • how important is it that we act now
  • does the project have a strong supportive user base among the relevant community, both in the UK and internationally?
Scientific needs: competing research

Provide a summary of any competing experiments or research and level of investment.

There should be some analysis of the benefits of this particular research against similar past and current research worldwide.

Scientific needs: track record

Explain your track record in this field:

  • why do you consider your group the best or most appropriate to carry out this programme
  • how should the panel be confident that you would be able to deliver the project
  • what is the competency of your group to perform this work?
Scientific needs: impact

PPRP applications should demonstrate the potential for impact. You must consider how you will or might achieve impact throughout your project. This detail should be included as part of the case for support.

The most important thing to remember is that impact planning is meant to be a forward-looking exercise. It allows you to say what you are going to do to maximise the likelihood of a range of anticipated impacts arising from your proposed project.

It is your chance to be specific and to ask for the resources you need to put your plan into action.

Activities to realise impact do not have to be cost incurring, but costs that are included must be fully justified.

For more information, see the STFC guidance for applicants.

Expected points

The following points are expected to be provided in the case for support. However, at this stage it is not expected they would be in the full level of detail for a PRPP submission.

Business needs: project management plan

A detailed project management plan is not required at this stage. However, you should indicate:

  • how the project will be organised
  • the duration
  • participants
  • schedule
  • key milestones.
Business needs: justification of resources

Costs must be clearly outlined and a high-level justification of resources given. Indicate if your project will be requesting effort from the nuclear physics cross community team, stating the category of effort you require (electronic, mechanical or software) and how much FTE per year.

Business needs: finance tables

A completed finance table (XLSX, 14KB) with an estimate of the total full economic cost is expected. This must include the capital construction phase and, where possible, the exploitation phase. Costs must be sufficiently detailed to show that estimates are reasonable.

Risk management

A full risk register is not required at this stage, but please provide a brief description of the main risks to the projects, explaining the severity of the risk and any plans for mitigation.

Collaborative projects

Describe linkages or collaborations with key collaborators or external players in this section.

Include a description of how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators, both within the UK and internationally.

For international collaborations, you should give:

  • the membership of the international collaboration
  • a brief breakdown of responsibilities within it
  • information on how the significance of the UK contribution to the project fits relative to the contribution from other countries.

The status of approval and funding of any international experiments should be provided.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

This is the first stage of a two-stage assessment process.

The outline proposals will be reviewed by a panel representing the whole of the nuclear physics programme and will include a number of international members.

The panel will rank the proposals based on the assessment criteria. Following the panel, the Science Board will consider the panel recommendations and one, or potentially two, proposals will then be invited to submit full proposals to the PPRP in 2023.

The Science Board will consider the affordability within the nuclear physics budget. STFC will provide additional details to the successful applicants about this second stage in January 2023.

Projects that do not proceed to PPRP may be considered by STFC for other funding opportunities as they arise.

Assessment criteria

The proposal will be assessed against criteria used for the PPRP. These criteria align with the STFC assessment criteria but include specific bullet points for PPRP. Although each area is considered during the assessment process, scientific and technical excellence is considered to be the most important and primary focus of the panel.

Learn more about the STFC assessment criteria.

Scientific and technical excellence

This relates to the specific objectives of the project and:

  • its scientific merit
  • its potential to make a significant difference to the discipline and contribute to addressing STFC’s science challenges
  • the technical importance of the project
  • the benefits of the project compared with past, current and future planned experiments worldwide
  • the timeliness of the project.

International competitiveness

This relates to the international relevance of the project and UK leadership within the field, in both European and global arenas.

Strategic value within the STFC programme

This relates to:

  • the extent to which the project and facility benefits from or contributes to coherence
  • synergies or linkages with other programmes and facilities, including international subscriptions.

Leadership, planning and project management

Please note some small alterations for the PPRP assessment criteria.

This relates to:

  • the competency, track record and appropriateness of the collaboration to undertake the proposed work
  • the level of scientific standing, UK leadership and return to the UK generated by the proposed work
  • the quality of project management, including the project schedule and justification of the financial requests
  • evaluation of the risks (including technical risks) associated with implementation of the project, the economic and societal impact, and leadership objectives.

Social and economic impact from the proposed research

This relates to:

  • the potential application of the proposal’s technologies in other fields
  • third party professional sector engagement and outreach opportunities (for example, business or government)
  • engagement with non-governmental organisations
  • the development of transferable skills supported by STFC
  • inspiring young people to value science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and consider STEM careers
  • engaging wider society and specific interested or affected demographics with the themes, progress and outcomes of the research
  • creating opportunities for two-way interactions between the research community and society.


Feedback will be provided in January 2023.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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

Ask about this funding opportunity

Georgina Freeman, Senior Programme Manager


Include ‘Nuclear Physics Call’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days.

Melanie Kidd, Programme Manager


Include ‘Nuclear Physics Call’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days.

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