The Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund

The Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund was established in 2017 in memory of Prof. Anthony Bryer, who passed away on 22nd October 2016. It exists to support innovative, experimental and adventurous research by post-graduate researchers in Byzantine studies. In particular, it exists to enable travel for research beyond the scope of conference grants or other structured events.

Following very successful initial fundraising, and thanks to the generosity of donors within and outside the field of Byzantine studies, the Fund began to award grants from March 2019, though continued fundraising aims to increase the sums available to support research.

Information below details the origins of the Fund, its aims and information about how to donate and apply to the Fund.

About Bryer and the Fund

Prof. Anthony Bryer dedicated his life to researching the history of the Byzantine Empire and to encouraging research by younger scholars. His many publications testify to the energy and depth of his scholarship. Bryer’s students, and scholars encouraged and supported by him early in their careers, have made a huge impact on Byzantine studies worldwide. The annual Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, which he inaugurated, is recognised as the premier annual European venue for Byzantine studies, while the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, which Bryer founded at the University of Birmingham, remains a key focal point for Byzantine studies in the UK. Above all, Bryer’s research was committed to revealing the complex and rich history of the Eastern Mediterranean as a resource for the world, relevant to modern problems and identities as well as to historical research.

At a time of international tension and growing insularity in parts of the global political community, the lessons of Bryer’s research, and his way of researching, seem all the more crucial to develop and encourage in the scholars of the future. Students with further degrees in Byzantine studies have, in addition to pursuing careers in higher education, gone on to hold positions in government, business and charitable organisations the world over. Bryer was a firm believer in the value of travel and experience for understanding Byzantium’s diverse and long-lived civilisation. His own travels took him to almost all corners of the former Byzantine Empire and connected him to colleagues and friends in the academic communities of the US, Europe and Asia Minor. 

In Bryer’s memory it was therefore decided in February 2017 to establish the Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund to sponsor the kind of travel that meant so much to Bryer but that is increasingly squeezed out of postgraduate research by pressures of time and resource. Initial fundraising began at the 50th Spring Symposium for Byzantine Studies at the University of Birmingham it was subsequently decided that this fund should be administered via the UK Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies.

The Aims of the Fund

Opportunities for travel, exploration and experience are increasingly limited in the modern Higher Education environment, beyond attendance at structured conferences. The Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund thus exists to support travel related to any proposed research project or question concerning the history of Byzantium, excluding attendance at symposia or conferences. Applications may be to visit museum collections or archaeological sites, attend language schools or immersion courses, conduct landscape surveys or recreate historical journeys. Above all, the fund exists to facilitate travel which a junior scholar can show will expand their horizons, deepen their engagement with historical questions and transform their understanding of an aspect of Byzantine history. Applicants are encouraged to think creatively and critically about what will best help them answer their research questions. All applications will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Does the proposed travel have a clear research purpose? This need not be a specific event or destination, but may, for example, be a journey through a landscape or a series of destinations, combining meeting people with seeing sites or artefacts.
  • Is the applicant an early career postgraduate researcher who would struggle to fund this travel by other means? Applicants are encouraged to apply for funding from other sources alongside the Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund, but preference will be given to applicants who do not have travel funding as part of any research grant, who are not enrolled at an institution with generous internal grants or whose proposed travel would not usually be considered by other commonly-accessed grants in Byzantine studies.
  • Does the research related to the proposed travel fall within the scope of Byzantine Studies, broadly construed? At the outer edges of the definition of the field, preference will be given to applications which, like Bryer’s own work, expand the horizons of Byzantine studies to the north and east of the imperial core territories, and into the fifteenth centuries and beyond, rather than towards the west or the classical Roman period, owing to the more substantial existing funding available in the fields of western medieval studies and classical studies.

Donations to the Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund can be made online, or by cheque, or bank transfer.

Donating online: To donate via debit/credit card, or from a PayPal account, please use the PayPal button below. There is no fixed donation and you will be able to enter the amount you wish to donate.

Donations by cheque: Please make cheques payable to ‘Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies’ and either write on the back of the cheque ‘Bryer Travel Fund’ or include a note stating that this is the intended purpose of your donation. Any cheques received without instructions to this effect will be considered to be donations to the SPBS General Fund. Please post cheques to:

Dr Daniel Reynolds
Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greek Studies
School of History and Cultures
3rd Floor, Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Donations by bank transfer: Please email the Chair of the Development Committee for information about the account details to which transfers can be made.

Information for Applicants

Deadlines for Application:
1st March (for travel between 1st April and 30th September)
1st September (for travel between 1st October and 31st March)

Funds Available: Currently the Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund will make available grants up to a total value of £500. This may be split between two or more awardees at the discretion of the evaluating panel. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to apply for sums of up to £200. Applications to support existing funds are warmly welcomed. Please note: the Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund is actively fundraising and as the principle increases, the sums awarded will reflect this. Applicants are, therefore, strongly encouraged to check annually on the sum to be awarded and to frame your applications accordingly.

How applications will be evaluated: Applications will be reviewed by a committee of three, chosen by the SPBS Executive Committee. This will usually be identical with the Development Committee. The Secretary of the Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund may decide to serve as an additional evaluator if they are not already a member of the Development Committee. If neither the Fund secretary nor any member of the Development Committee is based at the University of Birmingham, then a member of the SPBS based at the University of Birmingham will also be invited to evaluate applications, honouring Bryer’s lifetime commitment to the University of Birmingham and the specific shape he gave to Byzantine studies there. Applicants from the University of Birmingham shall, however, receive no preference in the evaluation of applications. All decisions of the committee are final. Unsuccessful applicants are welcome to re-apply for the same or a similar project in future years. No feedback will be given on unsuccessful applications.

Notes for applicants:

1. Applications for the Bryer travel fund should be made by email to the Chair of the Development Committee by 1st March each year.

2. Applications may be retrospective, but applications should be made by the 1st March in the year before or immediately after travel.

3. Applicants must be registered for postgraduate study at a UK institution of Higher Education. Evidence that a candidate is going to take up such a post imminently (such as an offer letter), but wishes to travel beforehand, will also be considered.

4. Applications may be made to cover all or part of a proposed trip.

5. The Bryer Postgraduate Travel Fund is not designed to cover the cost of conference travel, however applicants may attend a conference as part of their travel. This cannot be the main purpose for which an application is made to the Bryer Fund but, for example, a scholar may decide to undertake fieldwork or visit relevant archives, libraries or scholars, while in a place for the purpose of attending a conference. In this case, the applicant may apply to the Bryer Fund for additional accommodation costs, and travel, but not for conference registration, accommodation for the period of the conference, or any other related conference expenses.

6. Applications should take the form of a single Word document. The filename should include the applicant’s surname. This document must include:

  • Name and contact details of the applicant
  • A statement confirming that the applicant holds an undergraduate degree or equivalent and is pursuing (or is about to begin) postgraduate study at a UK Higher Education institution. The evaluating committee reserves the right to request proof of this status, but proof does not need to be supplied with the application.
  • A clear statement of the amount sought with a breakdown of how this will be used/has been used. Amounts may be approximate where appropriate, but must indicate the basis for the calculation.
  • A project proposal of no more than 2000 words, explaining the purpose of the intended travel, the benefits to be gained by the candidate and how this will fit into their future research plans.
  • If the application is retrospective, a further document may be submitted, containing scans or copies of receipts for expenses already incurred, with the receipts numbered and the receipt numbers clearly linked to budget lines in the main application.
  • A reference letter (2-page maximum) by a recognised academic referee endorsing the project. If you are not able to obtain such a reference, arrangements can be made for you to be interviewed regarding the project by a member of the awarding committee in lieu of a letter of reference. Please indicate clearly if this is required, stating the reasons why you are not able to obtain an academic reference. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the supporting reference letter is submitted by the appropriate deadline.