Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: PATT travel grants for competitively awarded observation time

You can apply for travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time at astronomy facilities available to the UK research community.

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

Travel grants are funding for groups with travel costs of more than £5,000 a year (application deadline in October each year)

The full economic cost (FEC) of your application must be more than £10,000 over a 2 year period. STFC will fund 100% of the FEC.

Who can apply

Who is eligible to apply

To apply, you must be at an eligible UK institution, travelling for competitively awarded science observation time and either:

  • be a permanent member of staff
  • hold a fully-tenured post

This funding should be used to support UK-based observers only.

Observers are eligible to use the funds awarded in support of an approved programme of observations if they are:

  • the project lead (previously known as Principal Investigator) or project co-lead (previously known as Co-Investigator), or their nominated representative
  • a member of academic or research staff at the institution of the project lead
  • a student attached to the institution of the project lead whose credentials have firmly established them as a bona fide observer.

You must be satisfied that your nominated representative is experienced and qualified to use or operate the facility on which an allocation of time has been awarded.

You must not authorise the use of travel funds to support students undertaking observations that will form part of their PhD preparation. You should contact us if you are unsure about the eligibility of the student.

The funding we provide will normally be for one observer per visit only. If you need a second observer, you must get approval from us at least four weeks in advance.

For applicants who neither hold nor have access to a Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT) travel grant and who are seeking less than £5,000 per annum please see the PATT travel claims opportunity in the ‘Related Opportunity’ section.

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.

What we're looking for


We are looking to support UK-based observers visiting a range of astronomy facilities.

There are two opportunities related to travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time at astronomy facilities.

This funding opportunity is for travel grants: two years of funding for groups with travel costs of more than £5,000 a year (application deadline in October each year).

There is a separate funding opportunity for travel claims for applicants who neither hold nor have access to a travel grant awarded by the panel (no deadline). See the PATT travel claim opportunity.

Travel grants for costs and subsistence

You can apply for the full cost of expenses for travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time. Any other costs associated with the research, such as postdoctoral salaries, equipment, and applicant time, are assumed to be covered by the relevant research grant awarded.

The scheme covers costs for travel and subsistence only.

How funding can be used

You may use the awarded funds, without seeking further approval, in support of observing runs on the following:

  • facilities in direct receipt of STFC funds, for example Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometry Network (e-MERLIN), Liverpool Telescope (LT)
  • facilities approved by PATT. For details, please refer to the PATT Approved telescopes list

You should only use travel funds when the presence of a UK observer is essential to the observing programme or required by the facility.

Funding use which requires approval

Whilst you can apply for travel funds in support of observing runs on non-approved telescopes you must first get approval from us. Please refer to the PATT Approved telescopes list.

Only in exceptional cases can you apply for funding for:

  • the collection or collation of data
  • data reduction visits

Your application must include a purpose for a physical journey, for example because of the complexities of the data or difficulties in transporting the data.

If you need to change or cancel an agreed observing programme, you must get approval from the STFC office for any alternative plans.

Funding for visits to both approved and non-approved telescopes is not guaranteed. You should not book flights or make other travel arrangements unless we have confirmed funding.


The duration of this award is two years.

Grants must start on 1 April 2024.

Funding available

In order for STFC to fund 100% of the FEC via the new UKRI Funding Service, you will need to request it under the ‘Exception cost’ heading.

What we will fund

You can apply for the full cost of expenses for travel and subsistence in support of competitively awarded science observation time. Any other costs associated with the research, such as postdoctoral salaries, equipment, and applicant time, are assumed to be covered by the relevant research grant awarded.

The scheme covers costs for travel and subsistence only. Please refer to the PATT approved telescopes list for the guideline travel and subsistence rates.

What we will not fund

We will not fund commissioning work or observations at private facilities.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new 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.

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

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. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.

5. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.


We must receive your application by 4.00pm UK time on 17 October 2023.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Personal data

Processing personal data

As part of UKRI, we 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

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


Word count: maximum 50

In plain English, provide a summary of 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

Please add the following text to this box: The funds awarded will be used to pay for travel and subsistence costs associated with observing runs on telescopes around the world.

Core team

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

  • project lead (PL)

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.


Word count: 3,000

Why is the travel needed?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Give details of:

  • who will be making use of the proposed award
  • how the proposed award will be used

Within the Purpose section, we expect you to provide:

  • a list of academic and research staff who you expect to use the proposed funding
  • how the funds compare to the previous award (if applicable)
  • how you used funding last time and what other observing trips you made in the last two years (if applicable). Download and complete the Expenditure breakdown template (XLSX 13KB). The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If a trip is not yet finalised but is expected to be carried out before the end of the current grant, give estimated costs. List the total PATT-funded expenditure at the bottom of the table

Resources and cost justification

Word count: 1,500

What will you need to complete your activity and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s resources, in particular:

  • travel and subsistence
  • details of the expected number of future trips and destinations, and the requested costs for the period of the application
  • details of the use of, and costings for, any telescope not on the list of PATT approved telescopes. If appropriate, you may make a request in the application for a facility to be added to the approved list.
  • any data collation or reduction visits where an observer is not required

Assessors are looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all observing runs.

If an existing grant is held, provide justification for any change to the requested amounts relevant to the amount awarded on the existing grant. You should explain the rationale behind such request, for example group expansion, increased observing time and so on.

Overall, assessors want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

Your application will be reviewed by the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT).


We aim to complete the assessment process of your application within two months of the funding opportunity closing date.


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.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

For help and advice relating to this opportunity, please contact us at the STFC Office using the email addresses provided below and include ‘PATT Travel Grant’ in the subject line.

Justyna Misior, Programme Manager


Kim Burchell, Head of Astronomy Awards


Get help with your application


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

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

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the UKRI Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI 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
  • the application is an invited resubmission

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

Additional info


What is PATT?

PATT is an advisory body set up to consider the allocation of telescope travel and subsistence costs in support of those allocations for a range of astronomy facilities for the UK community.

Applications for European Southern Observatory (ESO) facilities are dealt with directly by ESO. It may on occasion be asked for input to policy and related matters.

PATT no longer includes the time allocation groups (TAGS) which consider applications for the use of the Isaac Newton Group (ING), facilities. For more information about applying for time on the ING, LT or e-MERLIN, please consult directly with the telescope directors or check the relevant website.

Panel members are:

  • Professor Chris Watson, Queen’s University, Belfast (Chair)
  • Dr Carolin Villforth, University of Bath
  • Dr James Mullaney, University of Sheffield

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.

Supporting documents

List of PATT approved telescopes

PATT applicant guidelines (PDF, 171KB)

Equality and Inclusion Impact Assessment

Expenditure breakdown template (XLSX, 13KB)


  • 4 December 2023
    Updated the panel membership under the 'additional info' section, removed Nina Hatch and added in James Mullaney.

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