New Horizons grants programme

The deadline for applications has now closed for our New Horizons grants programme for innovative and future-facing academic research on 'Groups, Communities and Alcohol Harm'.

We recognise that this is a very challenging time for people across the UK, with many facing reduced working hours and added pressures, in particular caring responsibilities, that will make applying for grants challenging. In consultation with a range of academics and our board of trustees we have taken steps to adapt the programme, while ensuring that grants are still made this year.

Changes we have made

  • We have extended the call period from the planned six weeks to 12 weeks (applications due 31 July 2020).
  • We have timed the call period so that it is not wholly in academic term time, recognising that teaching and exams may be disrupted both for students and people’s children.
  • We have lengthened the entire timeline as much as possible to allow each stage (for example peer review and revisions) to take longer, to allow for people facing additional pressure.

Why we have decided on this timeline

  • Ensuring research quality. Our timeline must allow sufficient time for peer review and scrutiny of applications, to ensure we are funding research of the highest quality. We are extremely grateful for the work that our peer reviewers do for us on a voluntary basis.
  • Accepting uncertainty. We cannot predict when the pandemic will end or containment measures will be lifted to any significant degree. It is likely that working from home will continue for some time to come, meaning that any delay would bring uncertain benefit – in addition to the costs outlined above.
  • Addressing funding reductions. In a climate where other charities have had to withdraw or reduce funding pots, we feel it is essential to support academic capacity and research into alcohol harm. Delaying our grants programme risks exacerbating challenges in the field.
  • Tackling alcohol harm. Alcohol harm is a serious issue that continues to exist during, and may even be worsened by, the Covid-19 pandemic. Research is a vital part of our strategy to reduce the serious harm caused by alcohol, and so we feel it is right to avoid a long delay.

We ask anyone who is interested in applying for the programme but is experiencing significant disruption to their work to contact us as early as possible. Although we are unlikely to be able to adjust time frames, we will work with you to facilitate your application where at all possible.

About New Horizons

The new grants programme will fund up to four research projects to explore topics connected to this theme. Applicants are strongly encouraged to propose projects that bring together different academic disciplines in order to bring new perspectives, theory and methodologies to the work.

We are calling for proposals that explore how people’s experience of alcohol harm is affected by their membership of, identification with, or exclusion from groups and communities, and how constructions of meaning within a community may promote or prevent alcohol harm amongst its members. We welcome proposals that address any aspects of alcohol use, harm and treatment services, and how these relate to groups, communities and meaning.

We define groups and communities as groups that create or inform either identity and/or a sense of belonging. Examples might include cultural, ethnic, national, religious, political, professional, geographic or other social communities of interest and identity. We would also consider research exploring the experience of diagnostic groups (i.e. people diagnosed with the same condition, disorder or disease) where this goes beyond simply exploring patterns of alcohol use, to explore how belonging to that group interacts with someone’s drinking, experience of harm and use of services.

We are particularly interested in studies that focus on:

  • Groups, sub-groups and communities that are subject to stigma, discrimination or structural disadvantage by society at large or by the dominant group of identity.
  • Newly emerging or atypical communities (such as gamers, neo-libertarians, ‘sober-curious’ movements).
  • Comparative studies exploring variation in alcohol use and harm across groups, sub-groups and communities, and studies that explore the effects of overlapping or intersecting group or community memberships or identities.
  • The intersection of identity groups, drinking norms and narratives about those norms (“people like us drink like this”).
  • Changes in dynamics, such as the emergence of alternative sub-cultures that reject the drinking norms of dominant group (“people like us normally drink like this, but our sub-group drinks like this instead”).
  • The discourses and framings that justify or promote unhealthy drinking practices and ways in which those framings might be adapted to encourage positive behaviour change.

We are less likely to fund:

  • Studies only about levels of alcohol consumption. We want to fund research on alcohol harm and the means to reduce it, not alcohol or alcohol consumption per se.
  • Studies only about socio-demographic characteristics, particularly those which have been substantially researched, such as age groups or male and/or female genders.
  • Studies only about externally observed drinking patterns of a group. We want to fund research that explores groups’ own narratives, discourses and meanings around drinking (and non-drinking) and how these encourage or inhibit drinking behaviours or behaviour change.
  • Studies that only illustrate problems. We’re interested in new understandings of problems, but keen to fund research that identifies solutions too, even if only in an exploratory way.
  • Studies only about White British cultural groups. It is our view that these have been significantly researched and so, where White British groups are included in a study, we would expect that to be alongside other ethnic or cultural groups.
  • Studies only on historical groups without contemporary relevance, although we are interested in historical perspectives where they relate to present-day or future practice.
  • Studies that draw on only one academic discipline or perspective.


The New Horizons grants programme is open to researchers from UK academic institutions. The principal applicant should be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to oversee the research.

Applicants to the New Horizons programme must show clearly how their proposal aligns with the programme theme and Alcohol Change UK’s research priorities and principles.

Before developing your application, please read our:

Funding amounts

The maximum programme fund is £250,000 for up to four two-year projects. Project awards will be between £20,000 and £65,000. No single project shall be awarded more than £65,000.

How to apply

Please find the application format in Appendix B of the New Horizons Guidance for Applicants. The application form is available below to download.

Applicants need to demonstrate that they are qualified to carry out the research, that they have the capacity to do so in a timely manner, and that they can bring the necessary insight and experience that will allow for the robust interpretation of findings.

The application deadline of midday on Friday 31 July 2020 has now passed.

Please direct any enquiries to

Get in touch

Key deadlines

12pm on Friday 31 July 2020Initial proposal deadline
Monday 24 August 2020First round shortlisting complete, unsuccessful applicants notified
Monday 21 September 2020Peer review comments provided and applicants invited to review proposal
Friday 16 October 2020Revised proposal deadline
Week commencing 2 November 2020Notification of projects selected for workshop and unsuccessful applicants notified.
NB: We expect that all projects selected for workshop round will be funded, subject to the final proposal being of a suitable quality. We reserve the right to reject any funding application until grants are formally awarded in March 2021.
Week commencing 23 or 30 November or 7 December 2020 - TBDWorkshop takes place (format and venue to be decided)
14 December 2020 to 17 January 2021Review of proposals in light of workshop
17 January 2021Deadline for final project proposal and budget
Mid-March 2021 (date TBC)Grant award
April 2021Project start

Key documents

Download pdf

Download pdf

New Horizons Guidance for Applicants

Download the New Horizons Guidance for Applicants (2.73Mb)

Download word

New Horizons 2020 Application Form

Download the New Horizons Application Form (0.02Mb)

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