This page gives details on the RAS grants scheme, including deadlines and application forms.
Applications should be for support of research or study in any areas of astronomy and geophysics:
- Activities relating to the history of astronomy and geophysics
- Conference/Meeting Travel Subsistence
- Funding for Meeting Organising
- Instrumentation - RAS Tomkins awards
- Observing/Field Trips - inc. E.A. Milne Travelling Fellowship
- Study or Research Projects
- Undergraduate summer bursaries - applications for these bursaries are only accepted in the February grants round
In general RAS grants aim to support requests which are unlikely to be considered for funding from research councils and other agencies. Each application must be accompanied by a case for support not exceeding two pages in length and a budget breakdown. In addition, certain categories of application must be accompanied by an abstract (conference/meeting travel) and evidence of travel, accommodation etc. costs (Conference/meeting travel; observing field trips). See the detailed criteria for grants before applying.
Who can apply for a grant?
Only Fellows of the RAS may apply for grants for studies, it is not possible to apply on anyone else's behalf, except in the case of summer undergraduate bursaries, which Fellows can apply for on behalf of students, and Education and Outreach grants, which are open to anyone. Applications are particularly encouraged from those ineligible for grants from the Research Councils or equivalent overseas bodies and for work, or for sums, not normally directly supported by the Councils (e.g. undergraduate research bursaries). Please see the criteria for grants for further eligibility details.
The Society will not in normal circumstances award grants for the purposes of professional scientific research or for tenured academics where the projects are eligible for funding from a research council or other similar source.
When are the deadlines?
Applications are assessed twice a year; the deadlines for these grants rounds are 15 February and 15 August each year. A call out will be made to announce when the online application process is open for each round.
How much can be applied for?
Applications should normally be for sums between £250 and £5,000. Evidence of application for matching funding from other sources must be provided, and the majority of grants are awarded on the basis of such funding being available.
Undergraduate Research Bursaries
Applications are particularly encouraged for undergraduate research bursaries by potential supervisors (who are RAS Fellows) in the February grants round. Such bursaries would provide support to enable motivated undergraduates who are considering research as a career to work in a research environment for part of the summer before their 3rd or 4th year. The Society will fund one bursary per supervisor per year.
The maximum bursary available is £1,200, independent of length of project. Specific research expenses up to £250 will be considered, but general expenses (e.g., for consumables or travel) will not. The RAS does not pay overheads, and bursaries produce no National Insurance contribution liability.
Undergraduate research bursaries for research into meteoritics, are separately funded by the Paneth Trust.
Funding for Meetings
The Society will consider applications for support to hold scientific or other meetings. The applicant should provide an overall budget, showing how the Society’s grant will improve the scientific outcome of the meeting by supporting, for example, attendance by students or recently qualified postdoctoral researchers (perhaps by reduced registration fees), a public lecture associated with the conference, attendance by a key-note speaker, etc. The Society will not offer grants that will be used simply to reduce the registration fee for everyone or for social functions.
The Patricia Tomkins Foundation has donated funds to encourage young scientists in the development of instrumentation for astronomy or geophysics. Applications may be made for sums of up to £2,000.
Please find the application form here.
Conditions of the Awards
Successful applicants should promptly acknowledge receipt of their award and must agree to adhere to the conditions of the awards:
(i) Payment will be made on submission of receipts, or invoices from audited bodies. Invoices from the applicant's institute are the preferred method of claim.
(ii) Payment will not be paid until a short summary (not exceeding 1 A4 page) of the outcome of the grant has been received. This should be submitted to the Awards Officer ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) on completion of expenditure.
(iii) Any publications arising from the award, whether wholly or in part, should acknowledge RAS support (this includes online publications, such as conference websites). If required, digital versions of the RAS logo are available at
For awards in support of organisation of professional meetings/conferences:
(iv) At least half of the sum awarded should be designated for the support of participation by scientists at an early career stage (e.g., postgraduate students).
(v) RAS support should be clearly indicated where appropriate.
(vi) A copy of any published proceedings should be made available to the RAS library.
(vii) If no invoice (or explanation for the delay in claiming the award) has been received within a year of the award being made, the award will be deemed to have lapsed.
Objectives of the Society
Competitively within each Grants round and the resources available, the Society will consider any applications that advance its charitable objects, namely to ‘advance astronomy and geophysics’: within this broad area nothing is explicitly excluded. However, given the modest scale of the grants programme, which cannot compete with government funding, the Society wants to make contributions to its sciences that are additional to their normal functioning. It especially seeks applications for grants for purposes that are not usually supported by other organisations or for the benefit of people who are ineligible for grants from well-established sources.
Successful past grant applications
For guidance, you may wish to consult the list of successful past applications for funding. See below for grants awarded in recent years.
Grants, Awards and Fellowships Disclosure Summaries
In awarding grants, the RAS will normally fund only directly incurred costs, and not overheads (including 'Full Economic Costing'). In so doing, we follow the guidance provided by the Treasury's "Science & Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014" (sections 3.31-3.37), and the practice of other charities (such as the Wellcome and Leverhulme Trusts).
For information: in England, recognising the contribution of charities to the excellence of the research base, the Government has established a specific revenue stream, the Charity Support Fund, to contribute towards the fEC of research funded by charities at universities in England. These funds will be distributed through the quality-related research (QR) block grant to Higher Education Institutions by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and will be used to meet the general running costs (e.g. indirect costs, estates costs, investigator costs) incurred by the university in conducting charity-funded research.
In Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council has also announced that it will allocate a charity stream of funding within its main QR grant, to support charitable-funded research in Scottish universities. The level of investment is equivalent to the amount HEFCE is contributing in England to the Charity Support Fund, in proportion to the level of charity income received in Scotland.
In Wales, the National Assembly has agreed an additional £3 million per year to support charitable-funded research, to be delivered by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.