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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 9 – full details and guidance for this call are available on the UKRI FLF funding webpage for Round 9.

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.

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. Researchers and Innovators are eligible for a Global Talent Visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders.

Who is not eligible to apply

If you have already achieved research or innovation independence (for example, by securing funding aimed at this career stage, or by already managing your own significant programme of work within a business), you should not apply. Senior academics and innovators are not permitted to apply.

Please check the eligibility criteria within the UKRI ‘Guidance for Academic-based Applicants’ for full details (available on the UKRI webpage).

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 9 (June 2024)

The University of Liverpool is allowed to submit 6 applications to this scheme and will therefore operate a strict selection process, which will be led by our Institutional Peer Review College.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) encourages applications from outstanding candidates, both internal and external to the University, to apply within our HSS Schools and Departments.

University of Liverpool selection process (mandatory)

Candidates who wish to apply with us have to take part in this compulsory process.

  1. Check if you are eligible – please see details above
  2. Discuss your proposal with and seek approval from the relevant Head of Department or Dean of School. Your application must be supported by your School to go forward to demand management, and they will be required to submit an UKRI FLF Round 9 HoD support form (see below) with your internal application (see step 3) 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.
  3. Submit an UKRI FLF Round 9 Intention to Submit form (see below) to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk by midday on Thursday 14th March 2024. This step will help us to secure appropriate reviewers and is not assessed.
  4. Submit your internal application (see below) for demand management peer review by midday on Wednesday 27th March 2024 to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk (full details of requirements pending the release of the UKRI call and updated form and assessment criteria). HoDs will need to submit a Head of Department support form directly to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk by this deadline.
  5. Applications are peer reviewed by at least two reviewers
  6. An internal demand management peer review panel will consider reviews and assess which candidates should go forward to submit their applications UKRI.
  7. Applicants to be supported for application in this round will be notified in the w/c 29th April 2024
  8. 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. 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.
  9. Deadline for full proposals to UKRI: Tuesday 18th June 2024 at 4pm


Midday, Thursday 14 March 2024

Internal Intention to Submit deadline (compulsory)

Submit an UKRI FLF Round 9 Intention to Submit form to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk. Applicants must also inform their HoDs of their intention to submit.
Midday, Wednesday 27 March 2024

Internal application deadline (compulsory)

Submit an internal application to peerrev@liverpool.ac.uk.

The internal application will consist of

 - Internal Application Form (UKRI FLF Round 9)

UKRI FLF Round 9 - Applicant Capability to Deliver template (Résumé for Research and Innovation) [also known as Narrative CV]

UKRI FLF Round 9 - HoD support form (to be submitted by HoD)

Diversity Monitoring Survey

w/c 29 April 2024.

Demand management panel outcome is communicated to applicants.
May, June 2024 Tailored support will be provided to selected applicants by members of Research & Partnerships team.
Tuesday 18 June 2024 at 4pm UKRI full application deadline.

Any queries?

For further information 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.

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