The RAS awards grants in support of studies in astronomy and geophysics. Applications are assessed on a competitive basis, and successful proposals receive awards drawn from the Society's Research and Grants Funds (see below)
In addition, the RAS:
Many of the Society's grants are only available thanks to legacies. You may wish to make your own legacy to support the Society's work.
How to apply for grants from the Research & Grants Fund
Applications should be for support of research or study in any areas of astronomy and geophysics, including, but not limited to, the following ( scroll down for further details):
- Study or research projects
- Undergraduate bursaries
- Educational projects
- Activities to do with the history of astronomy and geophysics
- Purchase of temporary help for a particular task
- Support of the applicant or others for a research or educational purpose, including research overseas (where some contribution to education in the destination country may be required)
- Purchase of instruments
- Support of meetings
- Travel to conferences or expeditions
In general RAS grants aim to support requests which are unlikely to be considered for funding from research councils and other agencies. In addition upto £50 can be claimed by speakers on the RAS/AAE list for expenses incurred in giving talks to schools
Any member of the Society may apply for a grant. Applications are particularly encouraged from (or, where appropriate, on behalf of) those ineligible for grants from the Research Councils or equivalent overseas bodies (for example, postgraduate, undergraduate, and other students; individuals who do not hold permanent academic posts; teachers; amateur scientists; etc); and for work, or for sums, not normally directly supported by the Councils (e.g. undergraduate research bursaries). If the member is applying on behalf of someone else, they should include a short statement (less than 500 words) explaining why they are supporting the application. Applications can be submitted at any time, but are assessed twice a year. Applications received at Burlington House not later than 15 February and 15 August are reviewed shortly thereafter, with a view to announcing awards within two months. Urgent applications (which have a funding upper limit of £1000) may, exceptionally, be considered outside the normal cycle, only if a sufficient case is made explaining the timing of the application and the deadline for the result of the funding request. Please make any deadlines clear when applying. Applications should normally be for sums between £250 and £5000 (except for NAM Bursaries and urgent applications, where the upper limit is £1,000). Applications for amounts outside these guidelines should address this point explicitly; and where relevant, applicants should make clear why other sources of funding are unavailable or inappropriate (for example, research students or postdoctoral fellows applying for travel funds should explain why their support grants do not cover this element; in these cases, we would normally expect evidence of matching funding from other sources).Following an assessment exercise, results for applications in hand on 15 February and 15 August will be announced not more than two months following those deadlines. Successful applicants should promptly acknowledge receipt of their award and agree to adhere to the general conditions of the awards. If no invoice (or explanation for the delay) is received within a year of the award being made, the award is deemed to have lapsed
Applications, generally, for grants to fund a PhD student to complete a course, or for other study programmes, will not be approved, except in cases of extreme hardship.
Competitively within each Research and Grants (R&G) round and the resources available, the Society will consider any applications that advance its charitable objects, namely to ‘advance astronomy and geophysics’: within this broad area nothing is explicitly excluded. However, given the modest scale of its grants programme, which cannot compete with government funding, the Society wants to make contributions to its sciences that are additional to their normal functioning. It especially seeks applications for grants for purposes that are not usually supported by other organisations or for the benefit of people who are ineligible for grants from well-established sources. The Society is unlikely to provide grants for the purposes of professional scientific research or for tenured academics where the projects are eligible for funding from a research council or other similar source. Except in the case of NAM Bursaries , it is unlikely that grants wil be given for travel by established professionals to attend conferences or collaborate with fellow scientists.
Travel to conferences (excluding the NAM)
On the other hand the R&G Fund will favour applications to help undergraduate or post-graduate students or recently qualified post-doctoral fellows to travel, especially where this can be seen to help to give a new or developing career some impetus and when full funding is not otherwise available. Applications by students or recently qualified post-doctoral fellows for funds to travel to a conference might be supported, but only if the traveller intends to give an oral paper at the conference (especially if this represents the results of a forthcoming or recent thesis); we will consider applications from a potential traveller to present a poster paper but only if there are additional reasons to travel that will advance his/her career. In addition, for each application to travel to a conference we require that there should be approximately matching funding in the budget from the conference organisers, the parent university department or other sources. If such funding is being sought, we might provisionally award a grant of approximately half the budget, hoping that this might add weight to the parallel application.
Applications, generally, for grants to fund a PhD student to complete a course,or for other study programmes, will not be approved.
The Education Fund and the Benevolent Fund can provide some small-scale help in cases of extreme hardship; applications can be made in any format at any time, in confidence direct to the Executive Secretary.
Undergraduate research bursaries
At any time, but particularly for the February R&G round each year, applications are particularly encouraged for undergraduate research bursaries (normally from, or on behalf of, potential supervisors). Such bursaries would provide support to enable motivated undergraduates who are considering research as a career to work in a research environment for part of the summer before their 3rd or 4th year. The Society will fund at most one bursary per supervisor per year.
The Society will pay levels of support for bursaries that are based on Nuffield Foundation (whose generous support is acknowledged) rates. Specific research expenses up to £250 will be considered, but general expenses (e.g., for consumables or travel) will not. The RAS does not pay overheads, and bursaries produce no National Insurance contribution liability. Undergraduate research bursaries for research into meteoritics, are separately funded by the Paneth Trust.
Funding for meetings
The Society will consider applications for support to hold scientific or other meetings. The applicant should provide an overall budget, showing how the Society’s grant will improve the scientific outcome of the meeting by supporting, for example, attendance by students or recently qualified post-doctoral fellows (perhaps by reduced registration fees), a public lecture associated with the conference, attendance by a key-note speaker, etc. The Society will not offer grants that will be used simply to reduce the registration fee for everyone or for social functions. We may provide additional grants if a publication (other than conference proceedings) will result (see below)
Funding for instrumentation Grants
The Patricia Tomkins Foundation has donated funds to encourage young scientists in the development of instrumentation for astronomy or geophysics. The details of the awards can be found here. The deadline is May 31st and applications may be made for a PhD thesis prize £1000, a prize for undergraduate instrumentation work , £500 or an instrumentation grant up to £2000.
The Society will consider applications for grants to help publish books etc, but these will have to be proposed for inclusion in the Society’s publications programme and are subject to discriminating editorial controls on quality; financial viability is a further consideration. Book projects that can be completed commercially are not eligible. We will not provide grants to publish straight-forward conference proceedings, but we may provide additional grants for conferences that will produce a book that has editorial integrity, e.g. a coherent account of a scientific field, based on a conference or lecture school.
Public outreach, schools education
Bids by amateur astronomy societies and schools for funds for general equipment such as telescopes, laptop computers, scanners, digital projectors and the like have met with little success to date, even where the basis for the application to the R&G Fund was for promoting public understanding or other purposes relevant to the RAS's aims. A successful application for this sort of equipment would have to argue convincingly that it would be used in an efficient manner, by a community of users, for an additional particularly suitable purpose supported by RAS, e.g. IYA2009. The Society is willing to consider applications to get schemes going, or help realise individual projects, but it will not provide a subsidy to on-going educational projects.
Application forms, which include further brief instructions, are available here (PDF Format), or here (Word format). Completed forms should be emailed to awards_AT_ras.org.uk.
Successful grant applications in the past
For guidance you may wish to consult the list of successful applications for funding from the R&G Fund. Click below for lists of grants awarded in the recent past.
1. In awarding grants, the RAS will normally fund only directly incurred costs, and not overheads (including 'Full Economic Costing'). In so doing, we follow the guidance provided by the Treasury's "Science & Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014" (sections 3.31-3.37), and the practice of other charities (such as the Wellcome and Leverhulme Trusts).
For information: in England, recognising the contribution of charities to the excellence of the research base, the Government has established a specific revenue stream, the Charity Support Fund, to contribute towards the fEC of research funded by charities at universities in England. These funds will be distributed through the quality-related research (QR) block grant to Higher Education Institutions by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and will be used to meet the general running costs (e.g. indirect costs, estates costs, investigator costs) incurred by the university in conducting charity-funded research.
In Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council has also announced that it will allocate a charity stream of funding within its main QR grant, to support charitable-funded research in Scottish universities. The level of investment is equivalent to the amount HEFCE is contributing in England to the Charity Support Fund, in proportion to the level of charity income received in Scotland.
In Wales, the National Assembly has agreed an additional £3 million per year to support charitable-funded research, to be delivered by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.
The Society's Research and Grants Funds are indebted to the following generous benefactors
- The C. A. G. Bearpark Trust
- Mrs Jelley's Bequest
- The E. W. Brown Trust
- The Plummer Bequest
- The A. G. Stillhammer Trust
- The Victor Nadarov Fund
- The William McCrea Fund
- The Hosie Bequest