Research and knowledge exchange

Guidance for creating a proposal

The University wishes to encourage high quality proposals for the funding of research and knowledge exchange activities. All proposals should undergo internal review before submission, and pass through the institutional authorisation process.

Process Description

The development and submission of proposals are supported by R&E and are recorded in the research system. All proposals should be costed on a full economic cost (FEC) basis, subject to an appropriate level of internal review, and appropriately authorised. It is important to allow sufficient time for all of these aspects to be undertaken, so that only high quality proposals are submitted.

School Grant Application Proformas and Internal Review

As a Principal Investigator you will need to complete a School Grant Application Proforma to ensure your application has the best possible School and Research Development support.

It is the University's policy that all proposal submitted for external funding should be subject to an appropriate level in internal (peer) review, to ensure they are of high quality and relevance. The mechanism varies between departments/schools and type of activity, and researchers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with their school's requirements. Many schools use the Grant Application Proforma mentioned above to trigger the review process.

Here is a bit more information on internal review, which might of interest:

In 2020, the University undertook a review of internal (peer) review processes in place across the schools and identified the follow best practice: Internal Review Best Practice [DOCX 17.84KB]

There is a summary of the online information for school internal review processes information here

The Working Group on Project Review (2010) produced guidance for Schools on how the policy might be implemented, which also contains useful ideas on best practice and an example template review form: Framework for a Project Review system [PDF 102.47KB].



There is a range of responsibilities undertaken by investigators, heads of departments and schools, and professional support staff. An overview of those responsibilities is available.


All employees are eligible to undertake the responsibilities of an investigator of an externally-funded project, subject to agreement by their Head of School or Head of Professional Service that they are suitable to do so. The contract of employment of an individual should extend to at least three months after the end of the defined period of the project for them to be a Principal Investigator (in order to be able to produce all final documentation). 


The authorisation process for research and knowledge exchange activity is the same across the University, and is operated through Research & Enterprise Services. All proposals need the agreement of each investigator’s Head of School, and may also require the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s and VCEG’s agreement, depending on the assessed level of risk involved. Institutional authorisation is undertakenby the completion of a Project Approval Form (aka Declaration Form), which is routed to the appropriate authorisers. Sufficient time should be allowed for this process to take place, to enable authorisers to consider the project properly.

Terms and Conditions

Externally-funded research and knowledge exchange activity is usually subject to terms and conditions, whether standard terms (e.g. Research Councils, charities, and some government-funded work) or individual terms (e.g. industry and some government work). The terms of activities funded as “grants” can be as onerous as those described as "contracts". The University, through R&E, reviews funder/cutsomerterms, and uses a set of standard contractual arrangements for a range of activities (e.g. research, studentship, materials transfer, and service provision) for use in negotiation. The key elements within a research agreement are: the ability to publish (or submit and examine a thesis for a studentship); indemnities and warranties; confidentiality; ownership and use of intellectual property (background, foreground and sideground); and price and payments.

Research Ethics and Governance

Research activity, however funded, that involves human participation, data, human tissues or the use of animals requires appropriate approval before it can start. Approval can only be given by a recognised research ethics committee. Activity involving NHS staff, patients or facilities requires Sponsorship approval before being reviewed by an NHS-approved ethics committee. Other such activity must be reviewed by one of the University’s research ethics committees or by another external or regulatory research ethics committee in accordance with the University's requirements. 

Research activity must follow good research practice, and Investigators must ensure adherence to any relevant legislation, regulation or policies.

For details of the University's ethical review and research governance procedures and policies, please refer to the Research Governance web pages.

The University has an international outlook, for details of the guidance and associated policies for managing risk in global engagement (including research), please refer to the Division of General Counsel, Governance and Compliance web pages.

Sponsorship (for research involving the NHS or social care agencies)

Certain clinical research activities are subject to sponsorship requirements, governed by legislation (the Clinical Trials Regulations) or by regulation (the Health Research Authority's UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research. Information about this is available from our 'Applying for Research Sponsorship' page.

Research Management System

This is the management and information system used to capture and administer the University’s research and knowledge exchange portfolio. All externally-funded projects need to be recorded in it, in order to be authorised, and before an account can be set up. In addition to externally-funded projects,the system will also be the means for administering research governance requirements such as research ethics approval, clinical sponsorship, and human tissue licences. (These are currently administered in separate systems, to be migrated to the research management system).

Contact Points

R&E structure and contact points.