Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK)

Our Funder

BR-UK is funded by ESRC - the UK’s largest funder of economic, social, behavioural and human data science.

ESRC: National Capabilty for Behavioural Research

The BR-UK Leadership Hub is part of a wider "hub and spoke" investment by the ESRC to build a National Capability for Behavioural Research (NCBR). This is a significant and strategically important investment for the ESRC, and underpins their four other priority areas in Net Zero, environment, biodiversity, and climate change; Digital society; Health and social care; and Security, risk, and resilience. All these challenges have social, economic, and political components, and will only be understood and addressed through deep knowledge of human behaviour.  

The Behavioural Research UK Leadership Hub is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [Grant Number ES/Y001044/1]. 

Centre for National Training and Research Excellence in Understanding Behaviour

As part of the NCBR, ESRC have awarded the University of Birmingham a £7.1M Centre for Doctoral Training Plus (CDT+). CENTRE-UB is one of only 2 large-scale UKRI investments in a National Capability for Behavioural Research. The second is a “Hub” called Behavioural Research-UK which is jointly managed by University of Edinburgh and University College London. CENTRE-UB commenced on 1st October 2023 with the first cohort of PhD students and fellows starting in October 2024. Funding is for 7 years.

The Director of CENTRE-UB is Professor Jess Woodhams, and Professor Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Dr Vicky Goodyear are CENTRE-UB’s Deputy Director and Training Director, respectively. They are joined by a leadership team of 9 other University of Birmingham academics, spanning all 5 of the University’s colleges, all behavioural research experts with a long history of co-production with partner organisations.

The Directors designed CENTRE-UB around 4 themes representing areas of critical mass and major societal challenges. Three pillar themes relate to understanding behaviour in the context of digital harms and goods, equity in physical and mental wellbeing, and environmental change and sustainability. These are bridged by one cross-cutting theme systems thinking which recognises that all behaviour exists within the context of multiple systems.

The CDT+ provides doctoral-level and post-doctoral training to PhD students with centre-affiliated studentships, research fellows with centre-affiliated 12-month fellowships (or 2-year part-time), and will also offer a suite of CPD to non-academic partners (e.g., government and other public sector, industry and charities). A bespoke e-learning environment, CENTRE-UB-ONLINE, operates as an organising hub for structuring and supporting training.

PhD studentships: A minimum of 51 PhD students will be trained through the centre to become the next generation of behavioural researchers pursuing careers outside academia. To facilitate this, all studentships are co-designed and co-supervised with partner organisations and all students study for 4 years, allowing for a placement as part of their training. 15 studentships per year are awarded competitively and are fully-funded by the University of Birmingham and the ESRC. At least 2 studentships per year are fully funded by external partners which allows external partners to recruit from within their organisations, opening up opportunities to engage in doctoral training to those already employed outside academia.

Postdoctoral Research Fellows: 8 fellowships per year (for 3 years) are funded by the ESRC. These are for early-career researchers and are 1-year full-time or 2-years part-time. 25% of the fellow’s time is spent on new research with the rest focused on developing skills to support their future career and engaging in knowledge exchange and impact activities with the hosting partner. All fellows have an academic mentor at the University.

Continuing Professional Development: The training provision is characterised by excellent science, cutting edge research methods, interdisciplinarity and translation. A diverse range of training activities will be available to participate in and/or contribute to/lead: monthly ‘hot topic’ webinars, interactive skill-development masterclasses, CPD programmes (e.g., online courses or in-person bootcamps), and training events (e.g. roadshows at specific locations or organisations).

Find out more about the Centre for National Training and Research Excellence in Understanding Behaviour