The programme offers small and large grants to document material knowledge systems that are under threat and in danger of disappearing. This includes knowledge systems associated with the making, use, repair and re-purposing of material objects, spaces, architecture, performances and environments. In order to qualify for these grants, these knowledge systems must still be actively pursued, or at least practiced within living memory of the knowledge holders. EMKP does not support work to revitalise a lost or forgotten tradition.

Small Grants can last up to one year with a maximum award of £20,000. Small Grants are intended for projects that are focused on a specific/individual material practice and which are limited in scope. They are also suitable for initial pilot work to establish the nature and extent of material knowledge systems where these might not be previously known, or for early career applicants who are building new projects.

Large Grants can last up to two years with a maximum award of £100,000. Large Grants are suitable for mature projects where intensive and more diverse documentation is proposed, a larger team is needed, multiple strands of work are happening simultaneously and/or more time is needed to complete the documentation (e.g. because of seasonal cycles of working)

Documentation methods can include, but are not limited to, film, audio recordings, photographs, written notes, maps, 3D images, and drawings. Successful applicants must agree to submit digital copies of these records to the British Museum’s EMKP digital repository, which is open access.

Applicants from across the world can apply for grants irrespective of nationality, although they must be affiliated to an institution that can provide independent oversight and reports to EMKP. There is no restriction on where the proposed work can be carried out; however, strong preference is given to projects in regions and countries where there is limited financial support available for research.



The call for applications 2021/2022 is now closed.

If you are considering an application for the 2022/2023 round of grants, please carefully consider the viability and ethics of conducting this work within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic before you apply. EMKP places the highest priority on the health and welfare of grantees, community members and knowledge holders, and will not support any projects that jeopardise this, or fail to plan appropriately. In your application will be asked to demonstrate what protective measures you will take in your proposed work.

For detailed information on how to fill in the application and the process please read our Application Guidelines

For further guidance on the digital component please see our EMKP Digital Guidelines.

For frequently asked questions see the FAQs page. 

The grants cover all relevant fieldwork and documentation costs including equipment, travel, subsistence and allowances for research assistants and community members involved in the project.  We do not fund replacement teaching/salary costs for the Principal Investigator or Collaborators*, or institutional overhead/administrative costs.

*In exceptional circumstances we may consider a modest salary for the Collaborator(s). Please see the guidelines for more details, or contact EMKP to discuss this.

Applicants are welcome to re-submit applications in the following grant round, especially if they have been invited to do so by the EMKP Panel in their original feedback.

Please note, however, Principal Investigators who are unsuccessful two years in a row cannot submit a third application the following year. The same applies to unsuccessful projects (where the Principal Investigator may have changed but the topic of the project and team membership have not).

The evaluation process of EMKP has been developed to identify the best and most urgent proposals. Proposals go through a three-step evaluation process:

Step 1: the applications are judged by two external reviewers;

Step 2: the applications are reviewed by the EMKP Panel members in advance of the meeting and ranked;

Step 3: the applications are discussed and evaluated in the panel meeting, and final decisions are made.

Applications that do not include all the necessary supporting documentation (i.e., a budget and a budget summary; a letter of agreement from the host institution; a digital assets plan; and a work plan) will not proceed to the review process. Please note, if you are a Ph.D. student we will also require a letter of support from your supervisor.

After the Panel decisions, outcome letters are sent to applicants in May/June. Not all results are announced simultaneously. Successful applicants are notified first, and following proof of acceptance, the EMKP will proceed to notify the remaining unsuccessful applicants. This allows applications on the reserve-list to be awarded in the event a successful applicant is unable to take up the award.

The EMKP review process has revealed recurring issues with unsuccessful applications—omissions, not providing the specific information requested, and not meeting eligibility requirements are the most common mistakes. In addition to closely following our guidelines, please find some general advice below that should help you better prepare for submitting your proposal .

  • The EMKP application is straightforward—the main priority is providing us with the information we ask. Your descriptions need to be clear and coherent. We are more interested in the specific details we request than how well you frame an academic argument.
  • The EMKP panel would rather see high quality, rich records of specific practices rather than a more superficial overview of a larger range of practices. Avoid inventories of objects and/or designs as a substitute for exploring the intricacies of knowledge systems and networks .
  • Pay attention to your fieldwork and documentation plan—too often, pragmatic methods are not adequately explained or spelt out. By providing details (e.g. timelines of when you will do what, who will take responsibility for which aspect) you are showing the review panel that you have thought through the actual mechanics of the project, and how you can achieve your goals. This answer also tends to reveal a strong record of prior research and ability to tailor your plans for in-the-field realities.
  • Ensure you have enough time in the field—many applications fail because proposals only include very short field trips. EMKP values in-depth, ethnographic research and documentation—this takes time, and cannot be done through short, week-long trips, or only spending a few days in a community before moving on to the next group. As discussed above, EMKP values rigorous, socially-informed records of specific material knowledge rather than general or quantitative surveys.
  • If your costs seem unusually high or low, please explain why.
  • Applicants often fail to explain how they will deal with issues around language and translation. Beyond explaining the team’s language competency in the application and how you might overcome language issues (e.g. three-stage translations: local language to regional language to English), please remember to include sufficient time and budget for such translation and/or transcription work.

To find out more about past successful applications, see our supported projects page.