Compile a research budget

Each call has different guidelines for what may or may not be included within the budget for your project.

Where to start?

Within your grant application budget plan is the “research design”. List which resources you need to conduct the project. Include your time, staff and non-staff resources such as field work, travel, research assistance or software.

Decide on a start date and project duration. The project start date (if your application is awarded) will depend on when you are planning to submit your application and the assessment cycle of the funding body.

Consider the time required to recruit staff, if applicable, and if you need them at the start of your awarded project.

Your grant applications manager will help you devise a realistic budget plan according to the funder’s requirements and LSE’s financial regulations.  To compile your budget, contact us on +44 (0)20 7106 1202 or email the Research Development Team.

Think about the following when preparing the costing for a project.


Staff salaries

Often the most expensive part of the budget is the salary cost. Consider the amount of time you wish to spend on the project as well as the amount of research assistance and expertise required. 

You may need administrative support if you plan on sending out a large number of questionnaires and have a lot of data entry to do. If the study is complex, you may want a senior research fellow with previous experience. It will cost more but it will be an expense worth paying for.

To ensure enough money is budgeted for staffing costs, think about what staff roles the project requires. To help determine what level is appropriate, view research staff role profiles.

View salary scales.

In addition, there will be extra costs to include, such as:

  • recruitment advertising 
  • redundancy expenses
  • pension costs
  • national insurance contributions

Named staff

There are procedures for including named staff in proposals. If you have a specific person in mind, contact your grant applications manager.

Check local practice with your department or centre manager as additional procedures on staffing salary levels may apply.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs can include estates costs and institutional overheads, for example the cost of using an office and facilities such as HR, IT support and library services. 

Often a funding body will only pay a contribution towards these. Research Division will calculate these costs based on a standard full economic costing. To add these costs to your budget, get in touch with the Research Development Team


This could include items such as a digital recorder or a laptop for carrying out field work. Some items of equipment may not be eligible depending on the funder’s regulations. For example, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will normally expect a computer to be provided by the host institution. There are some exceptions - funding may be considered if a standard computer is not adequate for processing vast amounts of data.

You will need to justify the equipment explicitly in your proposal. Contact us for further advice.


Some examples of standard project running costs include:

  • printed brochures for dissemination events
  • tea, coffee, lunch for meetings etc.
  • postage and stationery
  • photocopying
  • computer supplies (toner)

Travel and subsistence

Often a project will require travel costs to allow you to:

  • carry out field work
  • attend a conference
  • present findings for dissemination purposes
  • meet co-investigators working on the project

Example travel costs

The School has example costs guidelines, including travel rates to cover the cost of subsistence and accommodation as well as flights and train costs. Refer to these example costs when estimating your budget.

Some funding bodies have set criteria of what they are prepared to cover and may apply funding caps. For example, no business class flights; economy travel only.

Contact the Research Development Team in the first instance who will help you with your costs. When requesting a costing, consider:

  • total number of trips needed
  • number of people who need to travel
  • year in which each trip will be taken 

Justification of resources

A common component of a project is the ‘justification of costs’, sometimes referred to as ‘resource allocation’. It's essential to spend time making this section clear. If an expensive item of equipment is crucial for the project, you need to state how it will be used and why alternative options are not viable. 

The same rule applies for the inclusion of those people who have specialised expertise – you must state:

  • what these staff will be doing
  • why less costly options are not viable 

The Research Development Team offers you further guidance on what is required – get in touch.

Research Incentives Policy and teaching buy-out 

Research Incentives Policy

The School operates a Research Incentives Policy which allocates personal financial rewards to staff who win grant funding. For details view the Research Incentives Policy and FAQs

Research Infrastructure and Investment Fund

Departments (or Research Centres) also benefit from the scheme. In recognition of the costs of running research projects, departments are allocated a 40% share of the net overhead income brought in by each grant, to be used according to the rules of the Research Infrastructure and Investment Fund (RIIF fund). 

Detailed rules on the calculation of the RIIF Fund allocation are in the Research Incentives Policy.

Details on the purposes and uses of the RIIF Fund are in the Research Infrastructure and Investment Fund

Teaching buy-out

Subject to conditions, personal financial rewards, paid for from School funding, are equal to the value of the salary of the investigator recovered through the grant. Personal financial rewards can be used as salary supplement, teaching buy-out, and/or put into an individual research account for personal research use.

To see what personal financial rewards might result from the Policy, view our illustrative examples.

Certain funders will directly cover the cost of teaching buy-out. Check the guidelines for conditions. The Research Development Team will help calculate the amount of buy-out you can apply for and will offer further advice on the procedure.

Ineligible costs

Each call has different guidelines for what may or may not be included within the budget for your project. Read the call guidelines and if in doubt, check details with your grant applications manager in the Research Development Team.



Further guidance