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The Trust and its schemes – opportunities for funding. Dr Anne Dean Assistant Director. William Hesketh Lever. …from 1922 Lord Leverhulme of the Western Isles (1851-1925). The man behind Port Sunlight and Unilever plc… …and The Leverhulme Trust. The Trust was established in 1925.

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William Hesketh Lever

…from 1922

Lord Leverhulme of the Western Isles


The man behind Port Sunlight and Unilever plc…

…and The Leverhulme Trust


The Trust was established in 1925

A proportion of Lord Leverhulme’s interest in Lever Brothers (which later became Unilever plc) left in trust for specific beneficiaries:

Certain trade charities (grocers, commercial travellers and chemists) – undergraduate bursaries

Trade Charities Trust

  • …but the bulk of the money allocated to

Scholarships for the purposes of research and education


The Trustees

Five Trustees

All businessmen from diverse, international backgrounds

All drawn from senior management of Unilever plc (Chairman or Director level)

Extensive appraisal experience – spotting potential and quality

Reliant on advice received by peer reviewers


Scholarships for the purposes of research and education:

  • support for the gifted individual – excellence and originality of idea; compelling ability of applicant to undertake project; realising potential; individual vision…
  • normally postgraduate level
  • all subjects*
  • PhD studentships not supported unless fully justified as part of a Research Project Grant
  • The Trust is an almost exclusively ‘responsive mode’ organisation, the choice of topic always lying with the applicant
The Trust tends to avoid funding bids in those disciplines which other Trusts or agencies (such as Wellcome, the MRC, Department for Education and Skills, ESRC etc. are disposed to support). In particular:

Medicineandgeneral school education

….but might consider bids such as those which concentrate on the sociological, philosophical, economic, legal or psychological aspects of medicine or education…


The suitability of the research for support by the Trust…

  • the originality of the proposed work
  • courageous research (avoidance of the incremental and the applicant’s ability to take informed risk/blue skies research)
  • a mixture of disciplines (blurring boundaries/lateral impact)
  • individual exploration (hesitation with data banks/cataloguing)
  • the impact of the research outcome on other fields of study and within the immediate field of research
  • the extent to which the research design transcends traditional boundaries
  • the extent to which a proposal represents a departure from the established working patterns either of the individual or of the discipline

Trust’s view on bids rejected by research councils

…depends very much on reasons for rejection

Too ‘blue skies’/risky, multi-disciplinary or not within research council’s current interests? Might be worth applying. Trustees welcome exciting and challenging proposals.

If proposal has been rejected on basis of lack of quality, then extremely unlikely to be considered by Trust.

With c. £50M available each year, the Trust cannot act as funder of last resort for a government system with

£4 billion p.a.

Under the terms of the Founder’s Will, the Trust is unable to engage in


Therefore, overheads and similar costs cannot be supported. The Trust supports research, travel and subsistence costs, salaries and bursaries…

All awards made to institutions (such as universities, arts training organisations, galleries and museums) are made via a 2-stage process which involve an Outline and Full Application stage. Three deadlines each year for successful Outlines – 1 September, 1 Decemberand21 March.

For awards made to individuals (such as most Fellowships and Studentships), a one-stage process applies.


The following provides a brief summary of all awards offered by the Trust.

Research Project Grants (majority of awards made by the Trust)

Programme Grants (up to £1.75M for selected themes) – for 2010, the topics are: Beauty and The Impact of Diasporas

Various Fellowships (Early Career, Research, Emeritus) and Study Abroad – and Major Research Fellowships (MRFs) in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Study Abroad Studentships

Academic Collaboration – International Networks, Visiting Professorships

Philip Leverhulme Prizes



The Leverhulme Trust Arts Portfolio

(formerly known as the Training and Professional Development scheme)

This scheme has recently undergone a complete reassessment, and updated criteria will be posted later in the Spring.

The majority of awards made enable (normally young) people to obtainClassic Training Bursariesto support their training in the fine or performing arts at a specialist training organisation (not a university). Criteria for a successful application are based upon a combination of the student’s outstanding talent and financial need. Awards are made directly to the applying institution which then allocates the Bursaries.

Applications from individual students are ineligible.

Leverhulme Trust Arts Initiatives

This part of the Arts Portfolio will now offer opportunities under the following headings:

  • Innovative Teaching Activity
  • Mentorship Bursaries
  • Collaborative Arts Bursaries
  • Media Arts and Technology Awards

We also offer residencies under our…

Artist in Residence Scheme

For artists of any kind, including musicians usually for one academic year up to £12,500

Contrasting disciplines – i.e. a poet in a university chemistry department, a playwright in a museum, a fine artist in a hospital environment…


The application process

‘Institutional’ awards

Each year, the Trust receives c. 1,800 Outline proposals for ResearchProject Grant(includingInternational Networks).

A small proportion are deemed ineligible i.e. they fall within those areas generally not supported by the Trust, or are received from ineligible institutions. The great majority go forward for peer review - the Leverhulme Advisory Panel (LAP).

Awards made to individuals

For these grants, a one-stage process is used, and responsibility is devolved to the Research Awards Advisory Committee (RAAC) who make recommendations for awards. Once a year rounds – individual deadlines.

Decisions for all Trust awards are made on advice received from peer reviewers.


The process

Outline Application Form

There are no closing dates for the submission of Outline Applications to the Trust

For awards made to institutions of any kind

Up to 12 weeks – average 6 weeks

Outline Application undergoes initial review

Recommendation that applicant be invited to make a Full Application

Outline Application rejected on grounds of eligibility or quality

Applicant submits Full Application with two named referees. Closing dates for Full Applications: 21 March, 1 September, 1 December

Three deadlines each year:

21 March,

1 September and


Independent referees and the applicant’s named referees are consulted by the Trust

The proposal and the comments of referees are submitted to the Trustees for decision

Application Rejected

Application Approved


Some recent Research Project and International Network topics

  • Profile of a doomed elite: the structure of English Landed Society in 1066
  • Laboratory Theatre Network
  • The Chiseldon Cauldrons: investigation of British and Iron Age cauldrons
  • Inter, intra-generational and transnational caring in minority communities
  • Probing the earth’s deep mantle with multiscale seismology and geodynamics
  • Sorting goods from bads: how actors collaborate in marketing green chemistry
  • Naukratis: trade and interaction between Greece and Egypt, 700-33 BC
  • Femtosecond dynamics of tyrosine and tryptophan
  • Novel word integration in adults and children
  • An urban history of Belfast
  • Astrobiological studies of volcano-ice interactions on Earth and Mars
  • Natural philosophy in the Islamic world
  • Approaching war: children’s culture and war, 1880-1919
  • Convergence or homology of larvae and guts in animal evolution
  • Jeremy Bentham on sex, law and religion

To sum up…

  • The excellence of the proposed project is of paramount importance.
  • Clarity of expression, a good methodology and an idea of anticipated outcomes and dissemination strategy are all essential.
  • Really think about WHY you’re approaching the Trust – could your project be more appropriately funded elsewhere?
  • The Trustees favour applications which demonstrate both the ability of the applicant to undertake the work, and their excitement at the challenge this presents.
  • Demonstrate WHY the work is important, and why it should be funded.
  • Trust encourages creativity and the development of original and risky research which blurs disciplinary boundaries.
  • Wholly ‘within-discipline’ research projects are less likely to find favour, but might if they are of the highest quality.

or (in hard copy) in our Guide for Applicants, available upon request to:

The Leverhulme Trust

1 Pemberton Row

London EC4A 3BG

Tel: 020 7042 9888

Full details of all schemes can be found on our website