Pre-call announcement

Since 2014 we have made significant investments in impact, engagement and research on the process of Brexit through the UK in a Changing Europe initiative and the Brexit Priority Grants. As part of a planned portfolio of ambitious work on governance, trust and democracy, we will be issuing a call in early 2018 for a research programme on Governance after Brexit, directed by Professor Daniel Wincott (ESRC Leadership Coordinator for Governance and Brexit).  

The programme will address the implications of Brexit, adding research with longer-term perspective to our portfolio. The implications of Brexit span society, politics and the economy across the UK. It will have an impact on the UK’s constitutional arrangements, the nature of the state across multiple levels and a range of government policy objectives and instruments. Brexit also has consequences for political parties and civil society organisations, business and trade unions. Its consequences may differ for generations and classes; ‘races’ and ethnic groups; genders; nations, regions, localities and communities.  

The ESRC Governance after Brexit programme will be developed in two phases: the first will focus on key aspects of future UK governance, the second on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including UK policies after Brexit.

The term ‘governance’ is understood broadly for this programme, and relevant proposals that draw on a wide range of expertise and experience are welcome. We encourage all potential applicants to think innovatively about the contribution of a range of academic disciplines, about theory and methods and about research that spans and links macro-, meso- and micro-levels of analysis. Applications are sought from the full range of social science and related disciplines.  


The first call will be issued in February 2018, with the deadline for proposals in early May 2018. Networking events for potential applicants will be held shortly after the call launch. Grants will be expected to start in autumn 2018. We anticipate that the second call will be issued after first call grants have commenced. 

Budget and grant sizes

The overall budget for the programme is £5 million. We expect the budget for the first call to be approximately £3.5 million although the amount allocated will depend on the quality of proposals we receive. We are seeking to fund a mix of larger (£250,000-£750,000 at 100% fEC) and smaller (up to £250,000 at 100% fEC) grants. 

ESRC will fund 80% of fEC. All proposals to this call must be led by a researcher at an eligible UK research organisation and will need to be submitted through the research councils' Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Larger grants 

A larger project might encompass a number of work streams, such as parallel research in a number of localities, perhaps linked to macro-level data analysis. Larger projects might also put together novel interdisciplinary research teams or mix methods in new or distinctive ways.  

Smaller grants

Smaller grants are intended to encourage pioneering and/or high-risk applications, such as proposals that develop novel methods or work in new ways across disciplinary boundaries (within and beyond the social sciences).  The commissioning process will be designed to realise this ambition. 


Proposals for first round projects should address gaps in research related to Brexit, its implications and interaction with related issues and policies. Full details of the call’s remit, aims and objectives will be contained in the call specification. However, examples of such gaps might include: 

  • locality or community research in so-called ‘left behind’ places (including comparisons among and across them) 
  • ‘everyday’ Brexit - how Brexit emerges in everyday scenes and situations, including the ways in which it is implicated in the futures imagined and planned for by individuals, groups and institutions
  • the third sector and civil society’s contributions to governance
  • future of democracy in the UK (including the roles and functions of legislatures and participatory methods/democratic mini-publics, including participatory toolkits) 
  • governance at and across different levels, including devolved nations, devolution in England, city-regions and localities 
  • the roles of judges and judiciaries in UK democracy
  • key social and economic issues, such as promotion of social mobility and combatting inequalities, injustice and discrimination
  • key government strategies and policies, such as UK government Industrial Strategy, new devolved tax policies, justice policies 
  • identity and culture – questions about gender, ‘race’, class, generation and nationality that are important in their own right and also resonate across a range of other issues.

Applicants should consider how proposals connect to ESRC investments in related areas, to minimise duplication and encourage productive collaboration. Use of large social science infrastructure investments as resources for projects is encouraged.

Summary provisional timetable

  • Call published: February 2018
  • Call closes: May 2018
  • Grants start: autumn 2018