The European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)

The overall aims of the European Union's €53 billion Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) 2007-13, is "to strengthen industrial competitiveness and meet the research needs of other community policies, thereby contributing to the creation of a knowledge-based society, building on a European Research Area and complementing activities at national and regional level."

In general, the Framework Programmes provides funding for projects which have a minimum of three partners from different Member States / Associated Candidate Countries. These are usually top-down, strategically driven programmes, with publications of opportunities and have submission deadlines. Participants usually have to follow set project types, so it is vital to read several key documents when making a submission. The essential starting point is the relevant Work Programme.

Proposals for FP7 projects may only be submitted in response to calls for proposals, which are included in Work Programmes. The first steps, therefore, are:

  • To identify the most appropriate thematic priority area or research activity
  • To read the relevant section of the current Work Programme
  • To check whether there is an open call for proposals, or when one is due to be published   

Further general information about other FP7 activity areas can be found at the Commission's website.

Social Sciences in the Thematic Programmes

Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities Programme

The Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities theme largely continues work from corresponding parts of previous Framework Programmes. There are five major "activities" incorporating a number of research "areas", in which research "topics" are identified in successive Work Programmes.

The major "activities" are:

  1. Growth, employment and competitiveness in a knowledge society.
  2. Combining economic, social and environmental objectives in a European perspective: paths towards sustainable development.
  3. Major trends in society and their implications.
  4. Europe and the world.
  5. Citizens in the European Union.

There are two cross cutting themes:

  1. Socio-economic and scientific indicators
  2. Foresight activities

Other Thematic Programmes

There are very considerable opportunities for social scientists as members of multi-disciplinary teams in several other Thematic Programmes within FP7, notably Health, ICT, Energy, and Environment.

European Research Council

The European Research Council (ERC) is an important pillar of the Seventh Framework Programme, giving primacy to scientific excellence in researcher-initiated proposals. The ERC's aims are to enhance the "dynamism, creativity and excellence" of European research at the frontier of knowledge in all scientific and technological fields.

The ERC has an overall budget of about €7.5 billion over seven years, building up from a relatively low level in the first year.

The ERC will support projects carried out by individual teams headed by a Principal Investigator. These may be individual researchers, and projects may be national or transnational. Selection of proposals for funding will be by one of 24 expert panels, supported by specialist peer review. "Excellence" will be the sole criterion of evaluation.

Principal funding schemes:

  • Starting Grant - for early stage researchers with between two and ten years' experience following PhD;
  • Advanced Grants - for established research leaders.

Next closing dates:

  • Advanced Grants - Spring 2011

For further information see the ERC's website.