Project costings and budget categories

Information about budget categories, what is covered in that category, and things to think about when preparing your research project costings.

This table lists the budget categories, what is covered in that category, and things to think about when preparing costs.

Note  - what funders will fund may be lower or higher than fEC. For many non-commercial research funders, e.g. UKRI, the EU, and charities, pricing is prescribed to us. Projects not meeting minimum fEC recovery and contribution to overhead levels require justification and approval, so it is vital that costing and pricing is considered early in proposal development.

The following list is not exhaustive and other costs may apply depending on your project and local policies. If you have any questions about costs – you can contact your Research Funding Specialist to discuss.

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Directly incurred: Staff

Item Description Considerations
Direct staff PDRAs, RAs, Research Associates, Research Fellows.
  • What level of expertise do you need? Choose a pay scale to attract candidates with the necessary skills. View HR pay scales.
  • How much time they will spend on the project (full-time or part-time)?
  • Do you require, e.g.  project management or outreach support (usually for large/complex proposals)?
  • Do you require teaching cover?
Temporary staff Employed on hourly rates or casual contracts.
  • E.g. Data analyses and transcription.

Directly incurred: Non- Staff

Justification of resource calculations

We are required by funders to ensure that formal standards are in place and documentation is kept on file as to how directly incurred non-staff costings have been derived before approving and submitting an application for funding. 

Please download and complete a justification of resource calculations form and return it to the person responsible for the project Worktribe record before your application is submitted for internal approval.

Please note, the form will automatically download from this link:

Item Description Considerations
Consultancy Expertise from an external organisation.
  • E.g. marketing, legal, and technical advice.
  • Obtain a quotation for the work.
Subcontracts A service from an external organisation.
  • E.g. Sample processing, and expertise to run focus groups.
  • Obtain a quotation for the work.
Travel and Subsistence Travel costs, accommodation, subsistence, and meeting/conference registration.
  • Cost every journey you and your team members need to take related to the project.
  • Include, e.g. air fares, taxes, car travel, parking fees, train fares, hotels, meals, visits/secondments from researchers outside the University, visits/secondments to external institutions, and travel and subsistence for advisory board members.
  • UoE Business travel for booking and insurance. Note strict rules for expenses claims
Consumables Materials required to deliver the research project.
  • E.g. datasets, software licenses, workstations, equipment costing less than £10,000 inc. VAT, consumables related to equipment items, specialist publications, open access publication fees (if permitted), data storage, exhibition materials, and video and website production.
  • Hardware: desktops (monitor, keyboard, mouse), laptops (docking station), tablets
  • Software: purchase and ongoing licenses - Software Services .
  • For all IT costs, check the Research Computing Funding Checklist (CMVM)
  • Data storage, sharing and archiving; high-performance computing, virtual servers
  • Make sure to conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) (web tool here and consider secondary uses of the data
  • Printing and photocopying
    • Small-scale printing can be done locally & is recharged.
    • Consider Printing Services for leaflets, business cards, mailshots, questionnaires, academic posters, roller banners.
    • Consider Graphic Design costs.
  • Costs to cover funder audit requirements (if permitted).

Over £10,000 inc. VAT.

Purchase, maintenance contracts, control computers) & consumables

  • Read a summary of the rules which apply when applying for equipment in UKRI grants
  • Include, e.g. VAT and/or import taxes, delivery costs, insurance, installation costs, project related running costs, and environmental costs such as air conditioning.
  • Refer to UoE Procurement for info on preferred suppliers and negotiated preferential rates etc.
  • Contact Estates to confirm space and installation requirements.
  • Check with your centre whether they have lab management policies on grant applications.
  • Note UKRI will normally only cover 50% of equipment between £10K and £115K ex VAT.
Other DI costs Costs that do not fit into the DI categories above
  • E.g.  recruitment costs, interpretation costs, and specific training courses.
  • Public engagement: Event, props etc.
  • Hospitality & entertaining: Note strict rules for expense claims.
Specialist research facilities and services   N.B. some research facilities may be listed as Directly Allocated, please consult your RFS or local Research Office.
Study participants and PPI / patient focus groups: expenses, refreshments   Discuss with trial support staff, Edinburgh CTU, your RFS or your local Research Office.
Hosting meetings: room hire, catering, AV, poster boards, speaker expenses  

University of Edinburgh Events and Catering services 

Open Access publication costs for ‘Gold OA’   See Making your Research Open Access. ‘Green OA’ (open access after an embargo period) is usually free. Consider funders’ mandates: UoE has funds for Gold OA if work was funded by UKRI or certain charities.
Communications: websites, videos  

Directly allocated

Item Description Considerations
Existing Staff Include enough PI/CoI time to complete the work.
  • Include enough PI/CoI time to complete the work.
Research facilities Use of national or international research facilities
  • E.g. ARCHER computing time, Diamond Light Source beam time, and the National Crystallographic Service.
Pool staff Technical staff who will be working specifically on the project  
Estates Calculated based on research staff time
  • Calculated automatically
Infrastructure Technicians Calculated based on research staff time
  • Calulated automatically


Item Description Considerations
Indirect costs Calculated based on research staff time
  • Calculated automatically


Item Description Considerations
Research student stipends and fees PGR student stipends and fees
  •  Stipend (UKRI rates)
  • fees (UK/EU or international)
  • additional programme costs (consumables, travel)
recruitment costs
Other exceptions Where a funder will pay above their standard rate
  • Items where UKRI will fund at 100% rather than 80% fEC.

Provision of costings

  • Edinburgh Research Office will provide all staff costings in line with approved salary scales, expected increments and future pay rises.  These will include necessary on-costs (e.g. pension, NI).
  • If staff from other Schools or Centres at Edinburgh involved, you must consider their costs.  Each unit will need to approve the application before formal submission by Edinburgh Research Office can take place.
  • If other HEIs are involved in the project, they will need to provide their own staff and overhead costings so get in touch with them well in advance of any deadlines.


  • Edinburgh Research Office will work with Edinburgh Innovations Consultancy Team, costs should not be sent directly to potential funders without input from a Business Development Executive

Clinical Research:

  • NHS staff, support and treatment costs are provided by NHS R&D. Contact your RFS for more information on procedures.
  • Contact your RFS early if a SoECAT form is needed.

If you  have any queries about the information on this page please contact your Research Funding Specialist.

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