A full list of funding & opportunities offered by the BIEA to support and facilitate researchers is found below. 

Please note, all funding & opportunities offered by the BIEA are available to our members. For details about becoming a member of our BIEA community please see here


Thematic Research Grants

Every year the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) invites applications for our small Thematic Research Grants. These funds are usually dispersed through two calls for applications per year.

The BIEA invites applications for funding for original research projects in any discipline in the humanities and social sciences in eastern Africa.  Projects that fall outside of these disciplinary areas are not considered (for example, we do not fund projects in STEM subjects). However, projects in Africa beyond eastern Africa may be considered. We define eastern Africa as stretching from Sudan down to Mozambique, and Zambia across to Madagascar. We particularly welcome applications from researchers or research teams who have limited access to other sources of funds, and which engage with one or more of the following thematic areas.  Priority is given, but not limited, to researchers based in the UK or eastern Africa.

  1. Epidemics, pandemics and epizootics
  2. Citizens and science
  3. Knowing environments
  4. Technologies of politics
  5. Urban lives
  6. Retelling the past

The BIEA seeks to support early career researchers and scholars in eastern Africa, and is keen to fund small projects that lay the ground for larger projects.  Researchers may include postgraduate students in eastern African or the UK; people who have not followed conventional research careers but whose local knowledge or contacts make them well-fitted to conduct high quality research; and/or collaborative projects which might involve more established scholars but where the resources are ring-fenced for early career or Africa-based project partners.

Grants are normally between £500 and £1,000, but up to £1,500 may be awarded. The grant should contribute towards actual research costs and not include institutional overheads, equipment, and applicants.

Queries should be addressed to [email protected]

Advice for Applicants

BIEA’s research funding is competitive and we receive many more applications than we can fully fund. Your application must, therefore, make a clear and compelling case for why we should support your proposed research. Making such a case means briefly summarising the current state of knowledge and your research question, and explaining briefly how your chosen research methodology will help to advance knowledge, and contributes to the BIEA current research themes.  Your project also needs to be viable – that is, it has to be possible within the budget and time-frame you have set out – and meet all relevant ethical and health and safety regulations.  Your budget needs to be realistic and justify the amounts requested.  You must have a clear plan for dissemination so that people will hear about the results.

The BIEA has now closed the call for the 2022 thematic grants. The call for the 2023 thematic grants will likely be opened between January and March 2023 so keep an eye on our website.

Postdoctoral Writing Grants

BIEA offers support in the form of writing grants for scholars who have recently completed doctoral research within the disciplines of humanities and social sciences in eastern Africa. A writing grant provides a modest stipend for the completion and submission of a high impact publication to Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa or the Journal of Eastern African Studies, based on the results of the PhD research.

The writing grant covers a period of three months. The stipend is £1,000 per month, at the end of which the paper must be submitted to the relevant journal. Applicants must be able to confirm that they are either unemployed or only working a maximum of 15 hours per week in other employment during this time. 

Applications should take the form of the doctoral thesis abstract; a publication abstract and contents outline; a timetable for the completion of the publication; and a statement of support from the doctoral supervisor. 

For information about the most recent call for Postdoctoral Writing Grants see here.

Research Dissemination Grants: Bringing Research Home.

BIEA offers support for scholars who have recently completed doctoral research within the disciplines of humanities and social sciences in eastern Africa to return to the site of their research and present their findings to the community/ies with whom they worked, and to discuss further research potential with local stakeholders.  

Applications should take the form of the doctoral thesis abstract; a short narrative statement of proposed activities; a budget; and a statement of support from the doctoral supervisor. The maximum amount available is £2,500 per scholar. Successful applicants will be expected to supply several blog and social media posts for the BIEA and to be available for a public presentation about their trip.

Workshop Grant

This Grant is awarded for an international workshop to be held before end February 2025, either at the BIEA in Nairobi or elsewhere. The workshop should focus on disciplines of humanities and social sciences in Africa and involve academics from Africa and the UK coming together for several days. Workshop grants can be used to facilitate participation either by covering the cost of travel for participants or contributing towards event space hire costs. Suitable outputs include a funding application for a collaborative research project; collaborative publication or special issue journal; or similar.

The maximum amount available is £2,000, with up to £4,000 per workshop available in exceptional circumstances which would require specific justification. If the intention is to hold the workshop at the BIEA, it is the successful applicant’s responsibility to book the event and cost this with the BIEA team in Nairobi. Successful applicants will be expected to host the workshop before end Feb 2025 and to supply a final report, several blog, and social media posts to the BIEA for publication, and to acknowledge BIEA in any related outputs.

Those connected with the BIEA in some way (Trustees, Board Members, Honorary Research Fellows, etc.), are welcome to apply as Co-I, but not as PI, and will be excluded from sitting on the assessment panel.

Applicants must have a formal affiliation with a recognized higher educational institution, or a national research/heritage organization and must be able to secure their own institutional risk assessment to cover the workshop. Because this grant does not support research, no research may be undertaken during the supported activity and therefore no ethics approval or data management plan is required. A full summary of expenditure of the research grant, including scans of receipts, must be submitted to the BIEA within two weeks of the completion of the workshop. The BIEA’s financial accounting template should be used to submit the financial report, and applicants can also make use of the BIEA’s receipt temples while in the field.  Keep posted for the next call.



BIEA offers affiliation services for non-Kenyan researchers. Affiliation to a registered research institution is a mandatory requirement to apply for an essential research permit with the National Commission for Science, Technology and innovation (NACOSTI).

We charge student researchers KES10,000 and postdoctoral researchers KES20,000. The following documents are needed to begin the affiliation process.

  • Letter of Introduction from your department
  • Letter of Ethical Clearance
  • Research Proposal
  • A Risk Assessment Form filled by you/ letter from your University
  • A  Data Protection Form filled by you/ letter from your University

Send your queries on affiliation to [email protected]

Learn Kiswahili with the BIEA

The BIEA hosts intensive online Kiswahili language courses. The courses are aimed at researchers who are conducting or planning to conduct research in Eastern Africa with priority to be given to postgraduate students and early-career researchers. Through group and individual lessons and using a variety of teaching materials including videos and written resources such as local newspapers, students will learn essential communication skills needed to live and work in much of Eastern Africa.

Applications should include:

  1. Cover letter including details of any experience of Kiswahili you currently have, your plans to use your new language skills should you be awarded a place on the course, and how Kiswahili language skills would contribute to your career development (2 pages) 
  2. Curriculum Vitae (2 pages) 
  3. Letter of support (from your supervisor if a postgraduate student) 

For information about upcoming Kiswahili language courses please see here.

BIEA Graduate Forum

a) What is BIEA Graduate Forum?

It is an active network of graduate students in the Humanities and Social Sciences designed to provide support through sharing research knowledge, ideas, and experiences to ease the isolation that is often related to graduate studies.

b) What we do?

We offer helpful platforms and events to develop networks between graduate students and established researchers from different universities, countries and academic disciplines to promote innovative research in Africa.

c) Who can join?

Graduate students whose research is in line with the BIEA thematic areas or related disciplines in Africa’s Humanities and social sciences.

d) When do we meet?

Our meetings take place on the second and fourth Thursday of every month.

e) What time do we meet?

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. EAT.

f) Where do we meet?

Our meetings take place in the BIEA seminar room, Nairobi. However, due to potential disruption from Covid-19, the event may assume a hybrid or online-only format.

g) Our activities?

Panel discussions, cocktail events, workshops, training, and Work in progress sessions.

Join the BIEA Graduate Forum by emailing to [email protected]

Reading Group

The BIEA has a reading group that meets every Thursday to discuss selected foundational texts in African studies and theory.  Texts are proposed and selected by members.  The discussions are held face to face at the BIEA premises, with an online platform where other members can participate.

To  join the BIEA’s African Studies and Theory Reading Group, please sign up by emailing  [email protected].

Graduate Attachment Scheme

The BIEA graduate attachments offer recent graduates with an interest in further studies in any discipline in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Africa, the opportunity to gain practical research experience and develop their networks in a three-month enrolment at the BIEA in Nairobi, Kenya.

While subject to change, BIEA graduate attachés:

  • Will develop their research interests in the region via dedicated library time enabling the development of a literature review using our well-stocked library.
  • Gain practical experience of conducting research in East Africa by working as a research assistant for innovative historical, archaeological, anthropological, political science or legal projects.
  • Develop networks with early career and established researchers.
  • Gain administrative skills and experience by assisting the BIEA in the organisation of events and in the day-to-day activities of the institute.
  • Have the opportunity to take beginner, intermediate or advanced Kiswahili classes.

Graduate attachés receive a monthly stipend towards living costs while staying in Nairobi for the duration of their attachment. Successful applicants will be accommodated together near the institute in accommodation provided by the BIEA. Successful applicants can choose to opt out of this shared accommodation although no other funding or opportunities are provided by the BIEA. The BIEA will cover the cost of travel to and from Nairobi, a visa if required, and insurance for the period of the attachment.

The GAS scheme runs in 2 cohorts per year: 1st June – 31st August; mid-October – mid-December. Applicants should indicate their preferred cohort although this cannot be guaranteed.

Undergraduate Volunteer Programme

The Undergraduate Volunteering Programme is one of the training and capacity building opportunities at the BIEA. While participating in the programme at the BIEA, Nairobi-based current undergraduate, volunteers participate in our core research-centered BIEA business. Our volunteers receive guidance and support to develop their academic skills and interests, while connecting with academics and students from around the globe and assisting the BIEA in our aims and objectives..

‘I’m grateful to the BIEA for the Undergraduate Volunteer opportunity. It’s been an incredibly amazing experience having had a chance to develop vital skills that remain pivotal to my academic pursuits. With this opportunity, I managed to engage in the participation and organization of the Weekly BIEA Reading groups and PHD forums taking over email correspondences regarding the same. These platforms have and continue to profoundly build on my reading skills thus help me better understand how to engage in, interpret and shape scholarly conversations. This has indeed been and continues to be an Incredible space on academic development for me : Forever a member,’ LoiceOn’gere, UVP 2018.

’Undertaking the BIEA UV programme has been a great  honour. Coming from a legal background, it was refreshing to be exposed to a broad social sciences and humanities research environment.  I was also privileged to host a panel discussion on the Kenyan youth and corruption at the BIEA, a first for undergraduate volunteers. I enjoyed the stimulating discussions based on splendid book selections that characterized the weekly reading groups. The close interaction with both young and accomplished researchers was really the highlight of the programme that has strengthened my resolve to pursue research in the future. Gideon MawasiUVP 2018,

For the latest information about our UVP programme please see here