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The division is seeking new proposals for research initiatives in innovative, curiosity-driven research areas led by academics with permanent appointments in the Social Sciences Division interested in driving the development of interdisciplinary research collaborations with colleagues outside their own department at Oxford and in other universities. Funding of up to £50,000 over two years for networking and development activities will be provided for up to three proposals in the first instance.

Research incubator themes

The division’s research strategy aims to build on Oxford’s multiple disciplinary strengths and improve our collaborative research capacity in order to encourage the development of new, cutting edge research themes and to enhance our success with interdisciplinary and multi-partner research funding awards.

The division wants to promote the distinctiveness and diversity of social sciences research and of social scientific methods, theories and perspectives to funders, policy-makers and wider public audiences. As a result, we want to identify and invest in innovative interdisciplinary ‘incubator’ research themes as a focus for strengthening collaborative networking and bid development for large-scale research programmes.


In discussion with Heads of Department an initial set of potential areas for ‘incubator’ research themes has been identified. These reflect the intellectually distinctive concerns and perspectives of the social sciences at Oxford, areas of research strength across more than one department in the division, and the thematic opportunities and agendas of funding bodies and cross-divisional initiatives. The division’s aim is to ensure that the intellectual challenges and research opportunities of these themes are explored extensively and that Oxford’s capacity to address them effectively is developed into more competitive, interdisciplinary research applications to external funders. The intention is to ensure that a spread of different departments and/or disciplines have a stake in at least one theme. However, this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list and we welcome proposals in other innovative interdisciplinary areas.

Indicative Themes: we particularly encourage research proposals in the following themes (see Annex for an outline description of each theme):

  • Uncertainty and risk
  • Borders and displacements
  • Inequality and wellbeing
  • Resources and livelihoods
  • Human rights and freedoms
  • Connectivity and belonging
  • Expertise and knowledge

If you have any questions about research themes, please contact the division’s Senior Research Facilitator, Dr Sharron Pleydell-Pearce.


Read more on the Social Sciences Research and Impact pages