How to write a grant proposal

Get started.

TOP TIP: Contact Research and Innovation with your draft application a minimum of ten working days before the deadline.

Contact the Research Development Team for help with writing your proposal. 

Three key elements to consider


time graphic (6)

How long will it take to complete the project?

  • Be realistic with your design especially if the funder expects the results within a certain time period.
  • Start with your research idea and outline each stage in chronological order (e.g. desktop/literature review, recruiting researchers, planning field work, conducting interviews, organising information, analysing data, presenting key findings, writing key findings, etc.)

cost graphic (7)

How much will it cost to conduct the project in a given time?


quality graphic (2)

How will you ensure the highest quality?

  • Keep in mind what can be achieved within budgetary/time constraints.
  • These three elements correlate to each other. If you need to compromise the budget then you may see the quality drop; if you need to increase quality you may need more time.


Grant writing support

Points of contact

Your two main points of contact when drafting a proposal are your academic mentors and the Research Development Team

Endeavour to get in contact with your Research Development Manager at the earliest stage. As of 1st March 2023, the Research Development Team will no longer support research applications sent to the Team closer than 5 working days from the funder deadline. For more information on this deadline, please click here

Academic colleagues can advise you about the research background and your methodological approach. 

Check with the funding body to see which projects they've previously funded and how your project fits with their funding priorities.


How the Research Development Team can help you:

  • Offer feedback on how the proposal meets the scheme requirements.
  • Make content accessible to a general audience.
  • Carry out costings to populate your budget information.
  • Source examples of previously successful applications.
  • Simplify your way through the submission system and internal regulations.
  • Offer general feedback.
  • Find peer reviews.
  • Put you in touch with Human Resources, who need to be informed of any researchers you'd like to hire.

HR project planning training

Refresh your project planning and management skills - Human Resources run training sessions throughout the year. Browse LSE Training and Development System.

Feedback from peers

Improve your application - ask for feedback

LSE academics can advise on what makes a good quality application as they sit on a number of panels that review applications. We highly recommend that you submit your application for scrutiny to an academic mentor, to give you the chance to further improve.

Find a mentor - email the Research Development Team

Costing your resources

Correct resources for your project is crucial. Underestimate the amount of funding you need and it can pose an insurmountable obstacle that can jeopardise your success.

However, excessive amounts of unnecessary items that are over-priced, can prejudice the review committee and prevent your application being funded.

The Research Development Team will cost your project with you. Set up your budget with the Research Development Team

Check funding regulations for the scheme you are applying for. Learn the explicit instructions regarding eligible and ineligible costs. There will be a set way of presenting this information that you need to take into account.

How to compile a research budget

How to write a proposal training

Writing a grant proposal requires a different style of writing to that of an academic paper. It's an essential skill for all researchers who wish to progress in their career.

Your research proposal needs to be accessible to a general audience, whilst maintaining the detail of a strong methodology that will be scrutinised by experts in your field. 

We can help provide the skills you need to develop research ideas into successful proposals.

View forthcoming grant writing workshops

Missed an event?

Contact the Research Development Team to discuss repeat sessions.  

Tips to help win research funding

Tips to help academics with a research idea increase their chances of winning a research award.

  • Have you identified a challenging research problem? - Will it make a valuable contribution to knowledge? Will others be interested in the outcome?
  • Discuss it with trustworthy colleagues - Make sure it is "new". Check published literature and papers given at recent conferences to find out about work that's not yet been published.
  • Identify novel elements in your research - Don't be afraid to list them in bullet points.
  • Provide a clear plan - Explain how your programme of work solves "the problem" you are addressing. Show how you will begin your research and your key milestones.
  • Clarify that you have the skills to carry out the research.
  • Be as specific and quantitative as possible - For example, to claim that your new method is "more sensitive" than others is not justification enough to award you £100K ... a justified X factor might however.
  • If you are fairly new to the area - Get yourself known by attending national meetings or conferences, especially those likely to be attended by potential referees. It helps if they have met you rather than getting the reaction "who's this?" when they see your proposal.
  • Identify an appropriate source of funding - The Research Development Team can help.
  • Read conditions for eligibility - Make sure your project meets them. There is no excuse for getting 'mechanical' aspects wrong.
  • Are there any other guidelines? - For example, ethical approval. Satisfy as many as possible.
  • Is a co-ordinator, programme manager or secretary mentioned in the information provided by the funding body? If so, contact them. Can you invite them to visit the department? Ask them whether your proposal meets their conditions and is within their remit.
  • Ask colleagues to read and comment on your proposal - Find people with experience of the same funding body.
  • Find out how the proposals will be assessed - Research Councils use "Colleges" of referees to referee and prioritise proposals. Their names are published and the list will tell you the kind of people who will be asked to comment on your proposal. Make sure you write for this "readership".
  • Look up projects already funded by the body - Will your proposal be out of place? Have they funded very similar work recently? Are you asking for a reasonable level of funding?
  • Claim all relevant, allowable costs - Including recovery of costs of support staff, computer costs, travel and consumable items. Check these alongside internal departmental and LSE guidelines for any potential conflicts.
  • Be objective - Read the proposal as if you're the referee and it's been sent to you.


writing your grant application timeline

Further guidance