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Postdoctoral fellowships

The Department of Social Policy and Social Work welcomes outstanding postdoctoral candidates who want to apply for externally funded fellowship schemes. Funding is not available directly from the Department to fund fellowships, and you'll have to apply to an external funder, some of which are detailed below. The Department will support you in this process. However, it is important that you contact the Department as soon as possible in the application process (ideally 6 months before the funder deadline) so we can help make your application as strong as possible.

If you're interested in applying for an externally funded fellowship, hosted by the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, you should:

Choose where to apply

There are several funders to choose from when thinking about applying for a fellowship. Different funders offer different fellowship schemes, depending on the stage of your career and subject matter, and have different eligibility criteria, so it's important to check these.

These are the funders who typically fund fellowships within our research areas. Other funders are available.

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships

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.

  • 3 year fellowship on a full time basis
  • Fellow undertakes a significant piece of publishable research during the tenure of the award
  • Project put forward should therefore not be a reworking or mere extension of the candidate’s doctoral research project

Interested applicants should check eligibility on the Leverhulme Trust website and complete an online Expression of Interest (EoI) by 4pm on Friday 17 December 2021. This EoI will be used as the basis on which the department will decide whether they can support your application.  Applicants will be informed of the department’s decision by Tuesday 11 January 2022. If invited to submit a full proposal a final draft should be submitted to the department for review by Friday 4 February 2022.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Postdoctoral Fellowships support fellows for up to one year full-time (or two years part-time), to give fellows the opportunity to prepare for a successful career in research either within or beyond academia.

There is one call per year for outline proposals. This call is open to applicants who have undertaken their PhD at a research organisation that is part of an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnerships or Doctoral Training Centres.

By the full proposal deadline (23rd March 2022) you will have no more than 12 months of active postdoctoral experience, or you'll have submitted your thesis and passed your viva voce with minor corrections, with the expectation that you will be awarded your PhD by the start of the fellowship.

Interested applicants should check eligibility on the WRDTP website and contact if you want to be hosted by this Department. We can help you with your application and make sure it has the best chance of success. You will need to submit your Stage 1 Expression of Interest by the 13th January and, if selected, a Stage 2 full application on the 23rd March 2022. Please contact us as soon as possible if you are interested in this scheme. 

We are holding an online information session for potential applicants (and their mentor) on Monday 15 November, 12 noon. Please email to register.

Find out more about ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) 

Advanced Fellowships (post-doctoral level) are aimed at several specific points of a researcher’s career development:

  • for individuals who have recently completed or about to be awarded a PhD but haven’t yet established themselves as independent researchers
  • for individuals starting to establish themselves as independent researchers or those already established as independent researchers but not yet recognised as an international leader in their field
  • for individuals looking to transition into applied health research from a basic science background or those looking to re-establish their research career following a significant career break.

Find out more about NIHR Advanced Fellowships.


UK Research and Innovation

The UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF) aims to grow the strong supply of talented individuals needed to ensure that UK research and innovation continues to be world-class. This cross-UK research and innovation scheme will support early career researchers and innovators with outstanding potential in universities, UK registered businesses and other research environments. The support offered will be long-term and flexible, providing a comprehensive package, including your salary and justified research, staff and training costs. Seven years of support is available, employing a four year + three year model, with an external review in year four.

Find out more about Future Leaders Fellowships.

British Academy

The Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme provides funding to cover the costs of a 36 month fellowship at a host institution of your choosing. The purpose of this award is to enable you to pursue an independent research project, towards the completion of a significant piece of publishable research.

Find out more about the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust offers Research Fellowships for up to three years in humanities and social sciences. You're expected to have been awarded your PhD before you apply, and must not hold a long term established post. The research must be in any area of human or animal health.

Find out more about Wellcome Trust Research Fellowships.

Centre for Future Health (CFH)

The Centre for Future Health was established with funding from the Wellcome Trust and the University of York to support new collaborative projects that will address some of the most important health issues and challenges facing us today and into the coming decades. It offers two year fellowships.

Find out more about CFH Fellowships.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Funded by the European Comission, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship is of up to three years is open to experienced researchers with a PhD (or at least four years’ full-time research experience). In all cases, the fellowship must involve an element of mobility.

  • European Fellowships are held in EU Member States or Associated Countries and are open to researchers either coming to Europe or moving within Europe. European fellowships are 12 to 24 months in length. 
  • Global Fellowships are based on a secondment to a third country and a mandatory 12 month return period to a European host. Global Fellowships are 12 to 24 months for the outgoing phase, plus 12 months for the return phase in Europe.

Find out more about the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships.

Choose your mentor

It's important you choose the right person to support your application and, if funded, your fellowship. You should contact your potential mentor at the very early stages of planning your application to secure their commitment to your application. Your application will also require support from the Department (as detailed below). See the list of Social Policy and Social Work staff members.

Request for support from the Department

Your application will need support from the Department before you can apply to an external funder, and you should seek this at the start of your application process by submitting an outline application.

You will need to submit an outline application to as early as practical, but at least six weeks before the funder deadline. If you are planning to apply to more than one funder, you should submit an outline application for each.

You will also need to discuss your application with your Department mentor before submitting it.

Outline applications should comprise:

  • a short CV (1 page)
  • an outline of the proposed research (500 words max). This should include a summary of the project, the research questions, how the research advances the field, the proposed methodology and which SPSW research theme the research fits into. If the subject matter falls outside of our themes, you should explain why the Department should still support the application
  • the name of your proposed mentor and why you have chosen them (100 words max)
  • an email from the proposed mentor confirming they agree to support the application.

You will be informed of the decision by your proposed mentor at least five weeks before the funder deadline. 

While a six week minimum approval period is suggested, competitive applications are likely to have spent as much time as the call allows working with any potential mentor on an application. 

Criteria for supporting applications

We are unable to support all applications. The Department will seek to support applications where:

  • you meet a criteria for high quality in design and methods
  • you are eligible to apply, according to the funder’s eligibility criteria
  • you can demonstrate you have the experience and knowledge to conduct the research
  • the application fits within our research themes. If it doesn’t, you will need to work with your mentor to explain why the research would benefit the Department
  • the mentor is the appropriate person for the planned research
  • the research falls within the funder’s area of interest and strategy.

Find out more about the fellowships available at York.