Social Policy Association Opportunity Grants

Please find information below about the Social Policy Association’s Opportunity Grants programme for Autumn 2023.

Deadline for applications: 29 September 2023  (Decisions to be communicated by 20 October.)

As previously, this scheme is designed to enable events to happen which promote social policy by – for example – helping to showcase research, exploring issues in learning and teaching, beginning conversations, making connections between different academic perspectives, and bringing together academics, students, practitioners, service-users, policymakers and others with a stake in social policy.  They may be UK-focused, or comparative between different national contexts.[1]

For the Autumn 2023 round, the grants will again be split into two tiers:

Category A

Grants up to £1000

Category B

Grants up to £5000

Splitting them in this way is designed to help maximise the range of events, and – through Category A – to make it easier for smaller, early-stage exploratory projects to take their place alongside those whose scale necessitates a greater level of support (Category B).  Each of these can play a differently vital role in forging partnerships, sharing knowledge, setting agendas and bringing together different perspectives.  Hence we regard both categories as being of equal value.  Category B applications may involve a series of events rather than a single one – or (for example) the establishment and initial stages of a network.  The amount of funds provided under either category will depend on the distribution of applications received.

[1] Applications from members outside of the UK may (because of the requirements of UK charity law) be required to involve a co-applicant based in the UK.



Any member of the Social Policy Association may apply.  You may join the SPA for the purposes of applying.  We encourage applications from people not based in universities.



The subject-matter of the programme is open.  Events addressing any issue in social policy broadly construed will be considered.  However for this round, we have identified two priority areas:

  • Participation by early career researchers
  • Involvement of the third sector

While neither is a strict condition, preference may be given to applications which clearly incorporate these aspects.  Clearly third sector involvement will be more pertinent to some themes and topics than others.  We would suggest that all research-related applications would benefit from having reflected on how best to involve ECRs in the events they propose.



Applications should consist of a plan for the proposed event of no more than two pages.  The plan should include

  • The background and rationale for the proposed event
  • The content of the event
  • Details of planned participants
  • Any outputs or follow-on activity
  • The costs involved

Opportunity Grant applications are assessed by members of the SPA executive.  We apply these criteria:

  • Is this event well-planned and deliverable?
  • Is there clear evidence of the need or demand for this event?
  • Will this event have lasting or ongoing benefits or outputs?
  • Does this event align with the strategic goals and priority areas of the SPA?
  • Does the application offer value for money?

View past examples of successful applications



Recipients of SPA Opportunity Grants will be expected to

  • Publicise their event as widely as possible, including through SPA channels
  • Write a short report after the event for the SPA website
  • Use this as an opportunity to advertise the SPA to potential new SPA members (including marketing via other channels, distribution of SPA leaflets, use of SPA logo, etc.)
  • Make the event as inclusive as possible (attendance need not be limited to SPA members)
  • Raise the profile of the SPA to external agencies (government, independent sector, research centres, etc.) in the UK and other countries as appropriate
  • Share the outcomes of their event via blogs, podcasts and other appropriate media

For recipients of Category B grants, there are two additional expectations:

Applicants must be members of the Social Policy Association

View reports provided by previous Opportunity Grant holders



It is expected that the applicant’s host institution will cover the cost of individual items involved in staging the event and will then invoice the Social Policy Association for this amount.  If this poses problems in your case, please contact the SPA grants officer prior to application.

Please send your application or any enquiries to the SPA Grants Officer, Gideon Calder, via email.  Gideon will be very happy to discuss ideas and give feedback on what may be most suitable for the scheme, as well as receiving applications.