Special Research Grants: COVID-19

The British Academy is inviting humanities and social science researchers to bring their specific insights to bear on the global health pandemic resulting from COVID-19.
Funding status
Closed for applications
Career stage
Postdoctoral or equivalent research
Earliest start date
1 Jul 2020
Duration of award
Up to 24 months

This scheme is no longer accepting applications.

Across health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic affects individuals, communities, and society in the UK and globally. The economic, social and cultural effects are far reaching.

The deadline for applications is 5pm (UK time) on Wednesday 27 May 2020 and outcomes will be notified by 30 June 2020.

Purpose of the scheme

The insights to be brought to bear by researchers in fields covered by the British Academy are wide-ranging and there is a clear role for both humanities and social sciences research to play to inform and enrich our understanding and response. From literature, drama, history and languages, to political sciences, psychology, economics and sociology it is the humanities and social sciences that make sense of the world around us. The potential for researchers to understand, compare, and inform the impact of COVID-19 that draws on and combines humanities and social science is extensive, and primary and secondary research can explore issues such as the:

  • ethical and behavioural issues raised by the pandemic;
  • implications of migration on disease transmission;
  • feasibility and effectiveness of policy responses aimed at preventing or containing COVID-19, including secondary impacts such as school closures, quarantine etc;
  • past experience of epidemics, pandemics and quarantine;
  • communication of risk to the wider public;
  • behavioural studies understanding how people have been affected, both mentally and physically by living through the pandemic;
  • community responses to crisis;
  • access and equity to essential services, including digital communications and technologies;
  • translation and analysis of information for multilingual populations;
  • role of arts and culture in community building, recovery and resilience;
  • strategies to combat misinformation;
  • impacts on socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

This subset of examples, which is not exhaustive, highlights the contribution that humanities and social sciences can offer and small research project funding is being made available by the British Academy to support research across our disciplines. Researchers should think creatively about how funding could best be used, with a view to making a significant contribution to the understandings of and range of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.


This opportunity is open to all researchers in line with eligibility criteria for the Small Research Grants scheme, namely researchers of postdoctoral or equivalent level, in the fields of humanities and social sciences, ordinarily resident in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, employed in UK research institutions or recognised UK overseas research institutions, or independent postdoctoral (or equivalent) researchers. Applications may be made by relevant researchers both to this Special Research Grants: COVID-19 call and the BA / Leverhulme Small Research Grants Call currently open, but only one application can be funded if successful. 

Level of award

The British Academy will fund projects costing up to £10,000, following a model similar to the Academy’s existing BA / Leverhulme Small Research Grants, but awarded through this special research grant targeted response call and accelerated assessment process.

Applying for this scheme 

The application form is available on the Academy’s Flexi-Grant system. 

Projects can start from 1 July 2020, subject to institutional approval, and can last up to 24 months. Awards will support the direct costs of the research, will not be made retrospectively for work already undertaken, and the list of eligible costs are the same as the standard BA / Leverhulme Small Research Grants. Potential applicants are asked to read the Scheme Notes which are specific to this Special Research Grant: COVID-19 Call.

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