University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you.

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings.

Science Fellowships

A number of Fellowship schemes are available across the sciences, as detailed below. If you would like to discuss any further, please get in touch on Note that the University of Reading runs internal selection processes for the schemes run by STFC, NERC, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering; further details of this process, once launched, will be available below.


NERC, STFC, Royal Society and RAEng - Autumn 2021 deadlines

The University of Reading operates a common support process for candidates interested in developing applications for any of the following four fellowship schemes, all of which have single, annual application deadlines in September/October. The application process for NERC, STFC, Royal Society, and RAEng fellowships in 2021 can be found in the document here


Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

The Ernest Rutherford Fellowship is intended for early career researchers who do not have a permanent academic position. Applications must fall within the remit of the STFC core Science Programme (astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics, accelerator science) and afford scope for original work.

Duration 5 years. Maximum funding: None


Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

The NERC Independent Research Fellowship is open to applicants with up to 8 years full time post-doctoral experience.

Proposals must fall at least 50% within NERC scientific remit which includes: terrestrial, marine, freshwater, science-based archaeology, atmospheric and polar sciences, and Earth observation ( Applicants should not have a permanent academic position.

Duration: 5 years. Maximum funding: None.


Royal Society (RS)

The Royal Society University Research Fellowship is open to applicants having between 3 and 8 years of post-doctoral experience. Fellowships are intended for early career researchers undertaking research in any area of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine.

Duration 5 years Maximum funding: please refer to guidance for more details 


Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng)

RAEng Research Fellowships are available to applicants having no more than 4 years of post-doctoral experience. Fellowships are intended for early career researchers undertaking research in engineering, in its broadest sense.

Duration: 5 years. Maximum funding: please refer to guidance for more details.



Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Discovery Fellowships: These fellowships support researchers to develop leadership skills and to conduct their own independent research within a host laboratory. Applicants must have passed their PhD viva by 30th November 2021. There is no upper limit on the number of years of postdoc experience, although applicants should not hold, or have held, an academic position of lecturer, independent fellowship or equivalent level. A substantial demonstration of support for the fellow is expected from the university for this scheme. Duration: 3 years. Maximum funding: £500k Application deadline: 6th May 2021.


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Fellowships are on offer via the following routes:

EPSRC postdoctoral fellowship (Recommended if you have not previously held a significant grant (usually defined as those which included PDRA time, capital equipment or were in excess of £100,000 FEC)).

EPSRC synthetic biology postdoctoral fellowship

EPSRC open fellowship

Applications for Open Fellowships can be across any topic in the EPSRC portfolio. Post‐doctoral opportunities will vary across themes.

Projects can focus on discovery science, innovation, instrumentation/technique development or software engineering, or a combination of these. The Open Fellowships have an optional Plus component, for when the applicant plans to spend 20‐50% of their time on the fellowship to create positive culture change in the research community beyond their proposed scientific project and research group e.g. fellowships with a significant industry collaboration, knowledge exchange or impact element (examples provided in document annex).

Applications can be submitted at any time and are processed on a rolling basis at a prioritisation panel after peer review. Submission should be timed to have the best chance of being assessed at a forthcoming prioritisation panel (please refer to the fellowships Fellowships Guidance for full details).

Duration: You can apply for up to three years of support for post‐doctoral awards, and up to five years of support for open awards.

Maximum funding: None.

Medical Research Council (MRC)

Career Development Award (CDA) Open to post-doctoral researchers who are not clinically active, to support the transition to independent investigator. Eligibility is dependent on skills and experience at the time of application and there are no rules based on number of years of post-doctoral experience.

Applications are invited across all areas of the MRC's scientific remit. Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research.

Duration: 5 years. Maximum funding: None  Application deadline: 15th September 2021


Senior Non-Clinical Fellowships Supports proven independent researchers with a track record of excellence in their scientific field to develop into research leaders. To be eligible to apply, applicants must already to leading their own research group as an independent investigator

Applications are welcome across all areas of the MRC's scientific remit. Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research.

Duration: 5 years. Maximum funding: None Application deadline: 15th September 2021


Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF) Sep 2021 Supports talented medically and other clinically qualified professionals who have gained a higher research degree to lead their own research plans and establish their own research team to make the transition to independent investigator.

Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research; however, it is expected that applicants' clinical work helps to inform and strengthen their research work.

Duration: 4/5 years. Maximum funding: None Application deadline:  1st September 2021


Clinical research training fellowship: Sep 2021  Apply for funding for a research project across any area of MRC's remit to improve human health. You can apply for:

  • predoctoral fellowships (limits on salary, £20K limit p.a. other costs)
  • postdoctoral fellowships (limits on salary, no limit on expenses)

Applicant's are expected to be undertaking their speciality training. Available funding will cover salary and related expenses.

Duration:  2-4 years (typically 3 years)  Application deadline: 1st September 2021


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

NIHR has four Fellowship schemes which have been designed to support individuals at various points of their career to become leading researchers. The NIHR also partner with several charities to offer jointly funded Partnership Fellowships at both Doctoral and Advanced levels.

Pre-Doctoral Fellowship is designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career in health research methodology. It can be used to gain a MD and can be taken up on a full or part time basis. This is an annual call (usually February)

Duration: Up to 2 years Maximum funding: Salary for up to 2 years along with training expenses Application deadline: 25th March 2021

Doctoral Fellowship supports individuals to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research. This may also be taken up on a part-time basis. There are 2 calls a year (usually April and October)

Duration: 3 years Maximum funding: None  Next deadline: 15th July 2021

Advanced Fellowship is an award for those at a post-doctoral level and can be utilised at several specific points of a researcher's career development such as post PhD, establishing independence as a researcher, transferring into applied research or re-establishing a career following a career break. It can be taken up on a full or part time basis. There are 2 calls a year (usually April and October)

Duration: 2 to 5 years Maximum funding: None  Next deadline: 1st July 2021

Development and Skills Enhancement Award is a post-doctoral level award aimed at supporting NIHR Academy Members to gain specific skills and experience to underpin the next phase of their research career. There are 3 calls a year (usually January, May and September).

Duration: 1 year Maximum funding: Fellow's salary and contribution to training and development costs   Next expected deadline: July 2021 (tbc)

Leverhulme Trust

The Early Career Fellowship is for early career researchers with a research record (but who have not yet held a full-time permanent academic post) to undertake a significant piece of publishable work. Applications are invited from those with a doctorate who submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination not more than four years prior to the application closing date.

Applications will be considered in all subject areas with the following exceptions: studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals or research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications

Duration: 3 years. Maximum funding: 50% of the Fellow's total salary costs (max. £25,000 per year) £6,000 research expenses per year.

Internal process for applicants

The University supports 10 applications. Only one application per School is expected.

The Head of School must submit an Expression of Interest to the University Committee for Research and Innovation (UCRI) in November (details tbc) with the following:

1. Details of the proposed project (max 1 side of A4)

2. a CV (max 2 sides of A4)

3. Confirmation that the 25% of the salary costs will be covered by the School

Scheme opens: 1st January 2021. Deadline: 25th February 2021.

Candidates are required to approach the proposed host department in advance of the November deadline for the Expression of Interest to discuss being hosted and any internal selection processes at School level. Research Services host a Workshop for all candidates to the scheme in January.


Daphne Jackson Trust

The Daphne Jackson Fellowship scheme supports researchers who are returning to work after a career break of 2 or more years, taken for a family, caring or health reason. The scheme is open to researchers from all fields of research; previously the scheme was only open to STEM subjects but the remit expanded in July 2020 to also include arts and humanities. Fellowships are flexible and part-time, usually completed over two years at 0.5 FTE, and consist of a challenging research project and at least 100 hours' retraining per year. Funding is provided through a number of funders, so the exact duration may vary; please check the funders' websites for details.

Duration: 2 or 3 years. Maximum funding: variable depending on the funder.


UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

The UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships scheme aims to support early career researchers and innovators with outstanding potential in universities, businesses and research institutes to make the transition to or establish independence.

The Future Leaders Fellowship scheme is for applicants of outstanding potential in any research discipline. Applicants will need to demonstrate the "added value" that UKRI's investment will have on their career and how the funding will enable them to become a leader within their field. The internal process for the 6th and final round of this scheme has now been completed. Whilst there are no further rounds of this scheme advertised, it is anticipated the UKRI will extend this scheme. Further details will be post here when they have been published.

Duration: 4 years initially with an option for a further 3 years funding. Maximum funding: Up to £1.5 million including salaries, consumables, training and travel. This scheme provides tapered support for the Fellow's salary from year 3, so agreement must be sought from the appropriate Head of School prior to submission of an Expression of Interest (EoI).

An information session about the Future Leaders Fellowship scheme and the internal process was held on Monday 10th August 10.30 -11.30am. The presentation can be found here:

UoR UKRI FLF Scheme Presentation

AHRC held an information session in September 2020 which also included a lot of general information about the scheme. This can be found here:

UKRI FLF Presentation


NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

The Knowledge Exchange Fellowships scheme has been reinstated for 2020.

The NERC knowledge exchange (KE) fellowships are intended to enable the sharing and flow of knowledge and expertise between NERC funded researchers and their stakeholders, partners and user communities with the aim of generating impact from NERC funded research in the priority areas detailed in the NERC Delivery Plan. KE fellows can work anywhere between 20% and 100% of their time on a work plan of their own choosing.

Duration: 1 to 3 years. Maximum Funding: None.

KE Fellowships cover up to 100% of the Fellow's salary on a pro-rata basis including superannuation, NI and specific allowances, plus up to £40,000 for travel and other associated costs. They cover direct costs only and do not include overheads. There is no budget limit for salary costs. Applicants can apply for Travel and Subsistence costs for stakeholders to attend meetings/events.


Marie Sklodowska-Curie (MSCA) Postdoctoral Fellowships (European Commission)

MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships aim to enhance the creative and innovative potential of researchers holding a PhD and who wish to acquire new skills through advanced training, international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility. The scheme is open to excellent researchers of any nationality.  MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships also encourage researchers to work on research and innovation projects in the non-academic sector and is open to researchers wishing to reintegrate in Europe, to those who are displaced by conflict, as well as to researchers with high potential who are seeking to restart their careers in research.

Through the implementation of an original and personalised research project, MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships aim to foster excellence through training and mobility and to equip researchers with new skills and competences in order to identify solutions to current and future challenges. Postdoctoral researchers are encouraged to reach out to society at large to make the results of their research visible to citizens.

Duration: European Postdoctoral Fellowships 12-24 months, Global Postdoctoral Fellowships 12-24 months + 12 month return phase

*An additional period of up to six months can be requested for a placement, at the end of the project, in an organisation from the non-academic sector.

Maximum funding: n/a - budget calculated based on unit costs, multiplied by the requested person months

Application deadline (annual scheme): 12 October 2021, 14 September 2022

Interested candidates should contact Ioanna Theophanous (



Royal Society (RS)

The Royal Society Newton International Fellowships is open to applicants who have a PhD, or will have a PhD when the funding starts, up to 7 years of post-doctoral experience.  Applicants must be working outside of the UK and not hold UK citizenship.  They must also have a clearly defined and mutually beneficial research proposal agreed with the UK host academic.

Duration 2 years Maximum funding:£24,000 per annum subsistence plus £8,000 per annum research expenses with a sole payment of £3,500 relocation expenses

Application Deadline: 16 June 2021