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Guidance on completing applications

PhD students who wish to submit an application to the GRADskills Innovation Grant or Postgraduate Conference Fund must discuss their proposed project with their supervisor and the Head of School (or HoS representative) before applying.  You must have your supervisor's permission before your application can be put forward for consideration by the Judging Panel.  Note that since there is a fixed amount of funding allocated for the year, applications received in the March funding round may be subject to greater financial restraint as a proportion of the fund will already have been disbursed in the previous two rounds.

Please refer to these notes prior to completing your application.

  1. Innovation Grant funding is designed to support the development of new resources or initiatives, rather than providing ongoing funding for existing activities.  The aim is to introduce new opportunities to develop transferable skills using content or methods not currently provided by the GRADskills Programme, for as wide an audience as possible. See What types of project will be funded? below.
  2. Postgraduate Conference Fund applications are subject to the following additional requirements:
    • Funded event must take place at St Andrews University or environs - we cannot fund events at other institutions.
    • Postgraduate students must be presenting their research at the event.
    • GRADskills will only award funding to match funds raised from other sources (eg the applicant's School, external organisations), up to a maximum of £1000.
    • Confirmation of the other financial contributions must be provided with the application.
    • The applicant's School must make some form of contribution to the event, not necessarily financial, eg technical or administrative support, provision of materials, etc.
    • Only students that have done the GRADskills Conference Planning for Postgraduates workshop or similar training, or who have previous experience of organising conferences, are entitled to apply to the Postgraduate Conference Fund.  Applicants who have not done the GRADskills workshop must have an academic mentor within the School, and this should be made clear on the application.
  3. All members of the project/conference team must be listed on the application form.  Each member of the team must provide his/her supervisor's name and email address.
  4. In Section 4 (Benefits) you must clearly state how many research students will benefit, and describe the nature of the skills development taking place (eg project organisers might develop one set of skills, participants in the proposed activity another).
  5. In Section 5 (Sustainability) you must explain how you will "embed" your activity or resource so that GRADskills funding will not be needed in future, and how you will ensure the activity/resource remains available once you leave the University.  See How practical and sustainable is your idea? below.  If you are proposing to run a workshop as a pilot that might be incorporated into the GRADskills Programme, this must be discussed with Dr Heather McKiggan-Fee in advance of your submission.
  6. Section 6 (Costing) is often the weakest element of applications.  You must provide a detailed breakdown of costs, including the unit and total cost of expenses (eg catering), and include all sources of income as well as expenditures.  For example, if you are delivering a conference the proposed budget should include estimated participant numbers and delegate fee (if there is one). You should specify what costs the GRADskills contribution will cover (eg keynote expenses).
    • Travel costs (eg for keynote speakers or workshop presenters) will be covered in line with the University’s staff travel, subsistence and expenses policy. We will not normally contribute to the cost of travel bursaries for event participants.
    • Accommodation costs will be covered up to £150 a night.
    • Catering costs will be covered in line with the University’s catering charges, and must be calculated according to estimated participant numbers.
      • We will not normally contribute to the cost of a conference dinner or wine reception.
    • An explanation should be given for any venue fee (given that many rooms within the University are available for free.)
    • If claiming an hourly rate of pay for a bank worker contract, holiday pay must be added calculated as an additional 12.07%.

What types of innovative projects will be funded?

ImageProject proposals most likely to be awarded an Innovation Grant are those which widen the scope of the generic, transferable skills development programme for the greater benefit of postgraduate students at the University of St Andrews. The Panel will look favourably on projects which are interdisciplinary in nature, which involve teams of students or postdocs working together at development or implementation stages, which enhance the training resource base of the GRADskills Programme, or which increase the accessibility of generic skills development activities for distance or part-time students or staff.

How practical and sustainable is your idea?

Applicants need to demonstrate that their project proposal is innovative and feasible with the resources available to them and that it will achieve its goals within the given timeframe. Some questions you should consider when formulating your proposal:

  • Is it a one-off event or is the aim to launch a recurring or ongoing activity?
  • If your planned initiative is recurring or ongoing, who will take responsibility for leading it after your research contract with the University has run its course?
  • Does your idea rely on Information Technology, and how sound is your knowledge of the IT required?
  • What are the costs involved; can you justify the budget requested?
  • What is the time-line for completion of the project?
  • Who will implement your idea? Yourself? A team (who?)? Other staff? If you, do you have sufficient time to spare?
  • Who will benefit from the completion of your project?
  • Who is your target audience?

Examples of types of projects which might be proposed:

  • Setting up a workshop focussing on key transferable skills (eg communication skills, career management etc).
  • Designing training materials for a generic skills workshop to be delivered by students or staff.
  • Producing an on-line version of a face-to-face training workshop to make it more widely available for distance/part-time researchers.
  • Establishing an on-line postgraduate journal which promotes writing and publishing skills.
  • Running a publicity campaign to explain the benefits of generic skills development to new PhD students.
  • Producing a video guiding new PhD students through the range of generic skills development opportunities available to young researchers at St Andrews.

Contact details

Dr Heather McKiggan-Fee
PG Researcher Developer 
Hebs Block
St Salvator's Quad
T: (01334) 462334


- Submission Outcomes
- Successful projects

- Completion: GRADskills Innovation Grant / PG Conference report (Word, 41 KB)
(To be completed, & returned, within 1 month of project end.  See notes.)

Additional links

- Expenses policy
- University Catering