Are you thinking of applying for a fellowship? Do you know what a fellowship is? With the collaboration of our colleagues in the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre, Imperial College London, we provide information based on questions that are typically asked by postdocs who are starting to think about a fellowship as their next career step and those who are preparing to apply for a fellowship. This is a great starting point for getting to grips with the fellowship process.

What is a fellowship?

Fellowships are designed to support individuals and their projects at a host institution.

In general, fellowships aim to facilitate research independence, enabling you to start to work on your own research vision and research agenda. Depending on the career stage and purpose of the individual fellowship they can enable you to:

  • develop your own research agenda/project
  • start growing your own research group
  • promote international mobility
  • help you train or transition into a new area
  • return to work after a career break or working part-time.

Why should I do a fellowship?

A fellowship is an opportunity for you to be the Principle Investigator (PI) as opposed to a postdoc position, where you are typically hired on someone else’s grant. If you have your own research ideas which you wish to pursue, a fellowship can give you the opportunity to focus on your own research.

A fellowship can make you more competitive for the next stage of the academic career path as it is evidence that you have:

  • your own research vision
  • secured your own funding
  • a track record in the field
  • started to establish your independence or show the potential to be an independent researcher
  • started to build your own network and reputation in the field.

Preparing for a fellowship application

Peer Review College

The Peer Review college support researchers in submitting high quality applications to external funders.

The Peer Review College coordinates peer review at a strategic level, including institutional demand management, panel review for recurring schemes (e.g. NERC, MRC and Leverhulme), and setting up mock interviews for individual applicants. Further details can be found on the Peer Review College pages.

It is important to approach your host institution or mentor (if applicable) early, as there are often internal deadlines for submitting Expressions of Interest or Draft Applications that will be before the funders deadlines.   

Observers training opportunity

As a training opportunity for members of staff who have not yet gained extensive experience of submitting or assessing grant proposals, there are a limited number of Observer places on each regular peer review panel. Observers are not be able to contribute or influence the outcome of a peer review meeting, and are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as full panel members. Anyone interested should contact Mark.Smith2@liverpool.ac.uk. Further details can be found on the Peer Review College pages.

Getting started

Please go to the Preparation page for guidance on how to get started and what to expect throughout the process.

Fellowship funding opportunities

For extensive information on this subject, please go to our fellowship funding opportunities page.

Early Career Researcher (ECR) and Returners fund

Research and Partnerships Development, on behalf of the Research and Impact Strategy Committee, invites applications to its ECR and Returners Fund, open to those in the early stages of their career or those who have recently – within the last 18 months – returned to work after a long (more than three months) period of absence.

With acknowledgments to our colleagues in the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre, Imperial College London.

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