Woman walking against a yellow background

Applying to UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

This scheme supports early career researchers and innovators with outstanding potential to lead ambitious research & innovation programmes across UKRI’s remit.

The Future Leaders Fellowship scheme is for early career researchers and innovators who are transitioning to or establishing independence, or who may be developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting. Fellowships will provide long-term flexible funding to tackle difficult and novel challenges and support adventurous, ambitious programmes.

Fellowships will be funded for four years in the first phase, with the option to apply to renew for a further three years later on. Successful applicants are expected to be supported with a permanent position after the funded period of the fellowship.

There is no minimum or maximum award value – the level of funding requested must be appropriate to the project and justified. So far, the scheme has funded fellowships from £300,000 to over £2 million and there is no preference for lower or higher cost proposals.

Applications are welcome from the entirety of the UKRI remit – applications from arts, humanities and social sciences are particularly encouraged. Cross sector and organisational links, and research collaborations in both the UK and internationally, are encouraged.

UKRI is now inviting applications for Round 8 – full details and guidance for this call are available on the UKRI FLF funding webpage. The University of Liverpool will be holding a demand management process to select the candidates we will put forward for this scheme – details and internal deadlines can be found further below.

Information about the scheme

You can watch this short film by UKRI describing what is an FLF and the impact of a long fellowship on awardees (including one of our own Liverpool Future Leaders Fellow, James Lea!).


The scheme aims to:

  • Develop, retain, attract and sustain research and innovation talent in the UK
  • Foster new research and innovation career paths including those at the academic, business and interdisciplinary boundaries, and facilitate movement of people between sectors
  • Provide sustained funding and resources for the best early career researchers and innovators
  • Provide long-term (4-7 years), flexible funding to tackle difficult and novel challenges, and support adventurous, ambitious programmes

Career development of the Fellow is an essential component of this scheme – applicants should outline a clear programme of skills development and career support opportunities. This could include mentoring, professional training and development, attending relevant training courses to enhance or develop new skills. Applicants are encouraged to think broadly about the type of activities they pursue, including time for work in other environments, developing international links, developing new skills (for example, in policy or commercialisation).

Applicants and their eligibility

These fellowships are aimed at early career academics and innovators who are transitioning to or establishing independence, or who may be developing their own original and ambitious plans within a commercial setting.

Applicants do not need to hold a PhD and there are no eligibility rules based on the number of years since your PhD (however, if they don’t hold a PhD, applicants must demonstrate equivalent research or innovation experience or training).

There are no eligibility rules based on whether applicants currently hold a permanent or open-ended academic position or job role (those with a permanent/open-ended academic position will need to justify why an FLF is essential to their desired career path rather than other fellowships available to them).

The fellowship offers flexibility to support outstanding individuals:

  • from diverse career backgrounds
  • returning from a career break or returning to research following time in other roles
  • wishing to work part-time or in job shares in order to combine the fellowship with personal responsibilities
  • coming to the UK from abroad

Please check the eligibility criteria within the application guidance for full details.

Ideal applicants should demonstrate:

  • How this fellowship would be a transformational opportunity for both the candidate and their field
  • They are recognised as of the highest standard relative to their career stage
  • They are on a trajectory to become world-class
  • Evidence of independence/moving towards independence
  • Leadership potential/evidence of thought leadership

Difference between this scheme and other fellowship schemes

  • Reviewers will look for bids with the ambition to use the fellowship to add value to do something that someone couldn't do by building up a portfolio of conventional grants
  • Long-term (4-7 years) flexible funding, enabling fellows to tackle ambitious programmes or multidisciplinary questions, and new/emerging research and innovation areas and partnerships.
  • Fellowships can be made up of a single programme of work or multiple or concurrent interlinked projects led by the Fellow (i.e. ‘Portfolio Fellowship’)
  • Flexibility to alter the programme once the project has started in order to react to the changing research landscape or capitalise on advances in understanding
  • This is a cross-council scheme which supports fellowships across the whole remit of UKRI, including interdisciplinary working and working across industries/sectors.
  • No limit to the amount of funding requested - high value awards (in the region of £2m) and lower value awards (around £300k) have been granted
  • Commitment from the host institution to provide open-ended employment during or upon the completion of the fellowship
  • Supports applicants from diverse career paths – return from career breaks or following time in other roles are taken into account and flexible working (part-time, job share) is permitted

Applying with us for Round 8 (July 2023)

The University of Liverpool is allowed to submit 6 applications to this scheme. We will therefore operate a strict selection process which will be led by our Institutional Peer Review College (details below). The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) is keen to support candidates who are applying with HSS departments (please check list of eligible departments) prior to this institutional-level selection stage, in order to help HSS candidates strengthen their application and be as competitive as possible.

Support for HSS applicants (Pre-institutional selection)

Information workshop for HSS candidates

In August 2022, we held an online information workshop where colleagues with extensive FLF experience, including colleagues who have sat on UKRI FLF assessment and interview panels, shared their experience and insights about this scheme. You can watch the event via our intranet page. If you are unable to access this page please get in touch with hssrke@liverpool.ac.uk.

Feedback on UoL Expressions of Interest

The HSS Faculty is offering HSS candidates the opportunity to receive feedback on the EoI they are already developing for Liverpool's mandatory Institutional Selection Process prior to submitting this for assessment by the Institutional Peer Review College on 27 April (see details below).

HSS candidates wishing to take up this opportunity should send the Expression of Interest they are already developing for submission to Liverpool's institutional selection stage below to hssrke@liverpool.ac.uk by 10 April. This consist of:

Candidates will receive feedback as soon as possible, ahead of the mandatory institutional selection deadline (27 April 2023).

Please note that this is only offered to HSS candidates supported by HSS Departments (please check list here) who are intending to submit an EoI to the Liverpool Institutional Selection Process.

University of Liverpool selection process (mandatory)

Liverpool’s Institutional Peer Review College will lead our selection process. Candidates who wish to apply with us have to take part in this compulsory process.

First, candidates should discuss their proposal with and seek approval from the relevant Head of Department or School Dean. Your application must be supported by your School to go forward to demand management and they will be required to submit an HoD Supporting Form (link below) with your internal application to show that you have discussed the required institutional support needs for your proposed Fellowship. This will form the basis of a detailed institutional letter of support which will accompany a full UKRI application.

Then, applicants should follow the steps below:

Monday 17 April 2023 at 4pm Send an Intention to Submit Form (UKRI FLF Round 8) to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk. This is compulsory but not assessed (this basic information is for planning purposes and will help us identifying appropriate reviewers).
Thursday 27 April 2023 at 4pm Send an internal application (EoI) to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk. This is compulsory and will be assessed. The internal application will consist of:
Internal Application Form (UKRI FLF Round 8)
CV and Publications List Template (UKRI FLF Round 8)
HoD Supporting Form (UKRI FLF Round 8)  (submitted by HoD)
W/c 8-19 May 2023 Demand management panel takes place, and outcome is communicated to applicants.
May-July 2023 Tailored support will be provided to selected applicants by members of the Research, Partnerships and Innovation team.
UKRI deadlines
Tuesday 4 July 2023 at 4pm UKRI full application deadline*. This is compulsory and assessed.

*Please note that UKRI have removed the Outline application stage from the application process and it is now a single-stage process with the full application deadline on 4th July 2023, 4pm

Successful applicants will be closely supported in developing their full proposals by experienced colleagues in their department, the HSS Faculty and the Research and Partnerships Development Team, in advance of UKRI’s deadline (July 2023). They will have the opportunity to receive further peer review to strengthen their full proposal and received comprehensive, high quality feedback prior to the deadline.

Any queries?

For further information about the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences process, please contact hssrke@liverpool.ac.uk.

For further information about the University of Liverpool institutional selection process, please contact ukriflf@liverpool.ac.uk.

Information for UoL staff and mentors

For University of Liverpool colleagues supporting applicants, we have put together an intranet page summarising internal support processes and timelines, as well as providing extra information on recruiting and supporting candidates.

Back to: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences