Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: UK and South Korea social science, arts and humanities connections

Apply for funding to develop long-term relationships between researchers based in the UK and South Korea.

Your project must involve collaborative activities that:

  • are within the areas of social science, arts or humanities
  • engage a network of researchers in both countries
  • include early career researchers.

You must be:

  • a researcher at a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI funding
  • at postdoctoral level or higher.

We will fund 100% of your project’s full economic cost.

Who can apply

Proposals must be submitted by a UK research organisation eligible for UKRI funding.

Check if your organisation is eligible.

The principal investigator must be a UK-based researcher and of postdoctoral level or higher.

Please note that the lead international collaborator (academic researcher at postdoctoral level or equivalent from an established international research organisation of comparable standing to an UKRI-eligible UK research organisation) should be listed as an international co-investigator under this scheme. There may be more than one.

International collaborators participating in the funding opportunity, but not listed as international co-investigator, should be named in the case for support.

What we're looking for

South Korea produces significant volumes of high-quality social science, arts and humanities (SSH) research. Despite this quality and volume of output, the levels of collaboration with UK researchers are among the most under-represented of any leading research nation.

This networking funding opportunity has been commissioned to address the lack of connectivity and expand the level of engagement with South Korea. It aims to lower the barriers faced by UK SSH researchers seeking to collaborate with South Korean counterparts.

These networking grants are intended to provide flexible support for a programme of activity addressing the broad objective of establishing sustainable collaborations, leading to the development of joint research proposals.


Proposals may be submitted in any area of SSH, and on any topic. Interdisciplinary proposals across the breadth of the social sciences, arts and humanities are strongly encouraged.

The application must be principally focused within the ESRC remit or AHRC remit.

However, we encourage applicants to focus on areas where there may be particular value in collaboration between the two countries such as:

  • post-pandemic recovery
  • environmentally sustainable growth
  • work and productivity
  • healthy ageing
  • inequality
  • global trade and security
  • design
  • digital innovation and content
  • ethics and technology
  • urban development.

Other areas of focus that build upon the value of collaboration between the UK and South Korea are welcomed.

Furthermore, please note this networking funding opportunity is also intended to contribute to the UK government ambitions laid out in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (GOV). This highlights the importance of enhancing the UK’s partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.

The review also highlights the importance of research in addressing some of the key challenges shared by the UK and our international partners. Therefore, we would particularly welcome applications that contribute to the priorities identified in the Integrated Review such as:

  • strengthening global resilience to challenges, risks and threats
  • supporting open societies and defending human rights
  • building a resilient and sustainable global economy
  • strengthening global pandemic preparedness and health resilience.

Collaborations with disciplines outside of the social sciences, arts and humanities are also encouraged. However, proposals that are not identified as having a majority focus within ESRC and AHRC’s remits will be deemed ineligible.

Applicants should consider how their proposal makes the best use of available expertise in the UK and South Korea, together with the added value of new or existing collaborations.

The intention is that the networking activities supported through these connections grants will:

  • enable new relationships between UK and South Korean researchers to be formed
  • strengthen existing relationships
  • enhance the overall level of connection between the UK and South Korean SSH communities.

This is intended to lead to the generation of new joint research agendas between the best researchers in both countries.

Grant start date must begin no later than 1 February 2022.

Specific objectives that underpin this funding opportunity are to:

  • establish and enhance partnerships and networks between UK and South Korean SSH researchers
  • promote the sharing of best practice and knowledge exchange between UK and South Korean SSH researchers
  • identify and develop SSH themes or topics of mutual importance in the UK and South Korea and where enhanced bilateral collaboration would further world-leading standards in the respective areas
  • support pump-prime collaborations between UK and South Korean SSH researchers.

Applicants are encouraged to develop innovative and creative programmes of activity. Examples of activities which might be involved include (but are not limited to):

  • mobility, networking and travel for one or more investigators in either direction
  • scoping studies
  • workshops to explore future collaboration opportunities
  • researcher exchanges
  • visiting positions or fellowships (excluding salary costs) for early career researchers or staff exchanges
  • website or digital costs
  • other collaborative activities.

Please note this networking funding opportunity is not intended to support substantive research projects. Applications where the focus of the proposal is not clearly and primarily on networking projects will be rejected.

Collaborative activities should not be limited to the principal investigator and applicants must engage a network of researchers in both the UK and South Korea. There is an expectation that early career researchers will be included within proposed networking activities where appropriate.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funders recognise that the proposed programme of work may be subject to change.

We encourage proposals to consider how they might be flexible in delivery should regulations have changed when the time comes to implement activities.

COVID-19 guidance

ESRC and AHRC 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(s) such as:

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

Panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts of the impact that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal.

They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the activities they are proposing.

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


This is a non-standard full economic cost opportunity, and therefore applicants should apply for 100% of the direct costs of the activities which they wish to undertake.

Travel and subsistence costs are eligible and are expected to constitute the majority of the requested costs. Conference costs, some consumables, costs for venue hire and setting up websites may also be included.

However, as this is a non-standard full economic cost opportunity, the grants are not intended to support substantive research projects and cannot be used to fund:

  • salary costs
  • investigator costs
  • items of equipment
  • other research costs.

This funding opportunity is aimed at supporting a programme of activity to build long-term sustainable collaborations. It is not intended to provide funding for individual travel grants or one-off visits.

Grant-linked studentship funding may not be claimed as part of any application. Such applications will be rejected.

To evidence the commitment of South Korean partners, applicants are encouraged to demonstrate and quantify an appropriate level of in-kind support from South Korean partners.

All applicants are also encouraged to seek institutional funding. This might include a monetary contribution from the international co-applicant’s institution or department, or an in-kind contribution such as venue hire or accommodation costs.

This forms part of the assessment criteria and therefore any co-funding or other contributions should be clearly specified in the application.

How to apply

The funding opportunity will be run by ESRC on behalf of ESRC and AHRC, and applications should be submitted to ESRC via the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

Please note the Je-S application route will open 11 August 2021.

When applying select:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: non-standard FEC grants
  • call/type/mode: ESRC AHRC UK South Korea SSH Connections Grants.

How we will assess your application

Applications will be subject to a single-stage assessment, where they will be assessed through an open, competitive process, using quality as the primary assessment criterion.

A panel of experts drawn from the social sciences, arts and humanities will evaluate all proposals against the following nine criteria:

  • proposed activities:
    • quality and coherence
    • scale of ambition
    • feasibility (for example, in addressing language and cross-cultural communication issues)
  • partners involvement and the strength of collaboration, the level of contribution from South Korean collaborators will be taken into account
  • added value to UK social science, arts and humanities through the partnership
  • benefits and future joint research likely to accrue from the collaboration
  • uniqueness of the opportunity and the expertise of the UK applicants and their South Korean partners (that is, where the collaboration is in an area of particular research strength for one or more of the collaborators)
  • breadth of researchers engaged in the activity and the opportunities for engaging early career researchers
  • if the application is to supplement an ongoing partnership, applicants should specify what new aspects will be delivered by this grant
  • expected outputs of the grant, this could include:
    • development of joint research proposals
    • joint publications
    • joint conferences
  • value for money:
    • the level of contribution made by the UK institution towards development of the grant;
    • the level of contribution made towards the grant from other sources.

All decisions will be made jointly and in accordance with normal ESRC and AHRC funding mechanisms, and the assessment process will follow ESRC’s standard scoring matrix.

UKRI supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

The UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making (PDF, 177KB).

Awards will follow ESRC’s general reporting process.

There will be additional terms and conditions relating to the funding source (FIC) for projects funded through this opportunity. These include fixed project start dates and specific rules around extensions.

These conditions will be communicated to successful applicants in their award letters.

Contact details

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


Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.


Telephone: 01793 444164

Additional info

This opportunity is being funded through UKRI’s Fund for International Collaboration (FIC). This will enable UKRI to respond rapidly and flexibly to new opportunities for international research collaborations that emerge from UKRI’s international engagement activities. Also helping to build positive relations with key countries with whom we have shared interests and with which we seek to strengthen scientific, cultural and economic relationships.

The FIC will be targeted at supporting bilateral and multilateral partnerships with high priority countries for the UK research and innovation base.

This activity is also intended to contribute to the UK government ambitions laid out in the 2021 Integrated Review of Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. This describes the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade and the action that will be taken through to 2025.

As well as committing the UK to becoming a science superpower by 2030, the review also highlights the importance of enhancing the UK’s partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. This activity is intended to support both these ambitions, extending and deepening the UK’s partnership with South Korea, a key regional ally and a global research power.

This programme has been developed with support from the UK Science and Innovation Network (SIN) in South Korea. The SIN team will endeavour to assist with connections and relationships in-country where possible, particularly for the development of further and longer-term opportunities enabled by this programme.

Read about the UK Science & Innovation Network in South Korea (GOV).

Supporting documents

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