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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.


Royal Society - University Research Fellowship (URF)

The Royal Society publishes an annual call for applications to the URF scheme. These fellowships are for outstanding scientists who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. These long term fellowships (typically five years in duration) provide the opportunity and freedom to build an independent research career in the UK or Republic of Ireland and pursue cutting-edge scientific research. Applicants can undertake research in any area of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine.

More information is available on the Royal Society URF call webpage:

The call is currently closed, but is likely to open for applications in spring/summer 2022. The submission deadline for proposals is typically in early September each year. The University of Reading operates an expression of interest review process, the details of which will be posted here in due course. This process is likely to open in Spring 2022. However, the University of Reading also welcomes enquiries year-round from prospective internal or external candidates. Please get in touch using the following email address: 


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


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

NIHR has various 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.

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: 18th January 2022

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: 13th January 2022

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: 30th November 2021

Leverhulme Trust – Early Career Fellowship

This scheme provides an outstanding opportunity to support Early Career Researchers, who meet the following eligibility criteria:
  • have not yet held an established academic post
  • have submitted, or will submit, their thesis between 24 February 2018 and 24 February 2022. Those applicants who submitted their doctoral thesis after 24th February 2017 will be eligible if they can demonstrate that their work was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • either hold a degree from a UK higher education institution at the time of taking up the Fellowship or, at the time of the application deadline, must have held a fixed term UK academic (lectureship or fellowship) position which started before October 2020.

Duration: Three years.  Maximum funding: This round, the Trust will pay up to £50,000 towards the Fellow’s total salary costs for the first year and thereafter will contribute 50% of the total salary costs, up to a maximum of £25,000 per annum. Up to £6,000 a year for eligible research expenses is also provided.

This year the University will offer financial support for up to six candidates who have the support of the Head of School. The University will commit to meeting any outstanding salary costs in year 1 and 25% of the salary costs of the prospective Fellow in years 2 and 3.  The host School will meet the remaining 25% salary contribution for years 2 and 3.

 Heads of School are requested to submit the following documents to by 4 pm Wednesday 1st December 2021 for their nominated applicant: 

  1. details of the proposed project (max 1 side of A4) including one paragraph describing why Reading is the ideal institution for your research
  2. a CV (max 2 sides of A4) 
  3. confirmation that the 25% of the salary costs for Years 2 and 3 will be covered by the School

Only one applicant per school may be submitted. Applications will be checked for eligibility and will be assessed by University Committee for Research and Innovation. The six strongest applications will be supported, and applicants will be notified of the outcome in the week beginning 20th December 2021. Funds will be made available to award one high-quality unsuccessful applicant a one-year post-doctoral position

The schemes closing date will be 24th February 2022. More information is available on the Trust’s website: Any queries should be directed to


Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 – Research Fellowships

These fellowships are intended to give early career scientists or engineers of exceptional promise the opportunity to conduct a research project of their own instigation. To be eligible, applicants must have three years or less post-doctoral research experience.

Duration: three years. More information available here:

Application deadline: 19th January 2022


Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship

This scheme is for experienced academic researchers who would benefit from a period of full-time research without teaching, administration and pastoral care duties. It is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Research must be within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes but is not limited to biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. Note that the Royal Society does not cover clinical medicine (such as patient orientated research and clinical trials), social sciences or humanities, other than when working in partnership with organisations.

To be eligible to apply, you must:

  • have a PhD or equivalent
  • hold a permanent post at a UK university or not-for-profit institution
  • be at a stage in your career when you would particularly benefit from a period of full-time research

The award lasts between one term and one academic year. The applicant’s employing institution will be reimbursed for the full salary cost of a teaching replacement (up to the equivalent of the minimum point on the lectureship scale as paid by the host university). Research expenses up to a maximum of £2,500 are available to cover the costs of consumables, equipment, travel and communicating science.

More information available here:

Application deadline: 17th November 2021


Leverhulme Trust - Research Fellowships

For experienced researchers in any discipline, to complete a piece of research. Research Fellowships are open to experienced researchers, particularly those who are or have been prevented by routine duties from completing a programme of original research.

The scheme will pay teaching replacement costs, to enable a researcher to dedicate a period of time to research.

Duration: Awards are tenable for between 3 and 24 months.  Maximum funding: £60,000

Application deadline 11th November 2021

More information available here:


Royal Academy of Engineering Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships

The Royal Academy of Engineering administers a similar scheme, that is also funded by the Leverhulme Trust. More information available here:

Application deadline: 16th November 2021


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.


NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

The Knowledge Exchange Fellowships scheme has been reinstated for 2020. A new call may be announced in October, with a deadline in December 2021 - tbc.

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 (