NERC has identified seven themes at the heart of its science strategy (published in November 2007). Research programmes (previously known as directed programmes) explicitly address science challenges and priorities within these seven themes: climate system; biodiversity; sustainable use of natural resources; Earth system science; natural hazards; environment, pollution & human health; and technologies.
Research programmes provide strategically directed environmental research, training and related knowledge exchange, and encourage national and international collaboration.
Research programmes are:
- delivered by higher education institutes, research and collaborative centres and analogous organisations;
- time-limited and designed to meet the evolving requirements of NERC's strategy;
- often collaborative, cross-cutting and inter-disciplinary in nature; and
- often provided through open competition to ensure delivery of the highest quality of research.
NERC's governing Council approved the first phase of the theme action plans in July 2008 and the second phase in November 2009. A table is available detailing the indicative timing of Announcements of Opportunity for research programmes arising from the theme action plans.
The list of NERC's research programmes includes cross-council and other initiatives.