Evaluation Process


SPaRK seeks to attract the best early career researchers across all disciplines to join Queen’s University Belfast. To realize this ambition, the selection process for SPaRK ESRs will comprise a number of stages:

STAGE 1: Eligibility Check

The Eligibility Committee will check applications against the eligibility criteria i.e. compliance with the mobility rule and attainment of the minimum qualifications for consideration specified in the information for candidates.

STAGE 2: Evaluation of eligible proposals

Review: Each application will be reviewed by three evaluators, one of whom will be the principal supervisor for the project. Reviewers will mark the applications against the evaluation criteria and produce a short evaluation report per applicant. Evaluation criteria are as follows:

  Description Weight Evidence
Criterion 1: Academic merit (using metric based on academic qualifications) and intellectual engagement with programme ethos (based on quality of reflection on leadership)  60%  Written application (50%) & video (10%)
Criterion 2: Quality and ambition as per cover letter/research plan and experience  20%  Written application
Criterion 3: Ability to communicate his/her research vision to experts and non-experts  10%  Interview
Criterion 4: Willingness and potential for working with partners from non-Higher Education sectors  10%  Interview

Shortlisting: Applications and reviewer evaluations will be assessed by the Evaluation Committee. Applicants must be awarded at least 60% of the maximum points for each criterion to be shortlisted for interview. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the shortlisting meeting (normally by email) within ten days of the meeting taking place. Shortlisted candidates will progress to the interview stage.

Interview: Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Evaluation Committee. Interviews will normally be carried out by Skype. A pitch for the importance of the chosen research project in terms of potential for impact will provide the starting point for the interview. The Evaluation Committee will review the scores with the benefit of the additional information provided by the interviews, then finalise the list of successful applicants.

STAGE 3: Appointment of successful candidates

The recommendations of the Evaluation Committee will be ratified by the Appointments Committee, from whom successful candidates will receive a letter of offer. The contract of employment will be final only when satisfactory references have been received. Offers of appointments will be subject to successful candidates securing a valid visa and work permit, if required, from the UK Border Agency.


For any questions relating to the overarching vision for the SPaRK programme please contact Professor Margaret Topping:

For any practical queries, please contact either Richard Walker or Sinead Cahill:

Professor Margaret Topping

Dean of the Graduate School

Queen’s University Belfast,

University Road,

Belfast, BT7 1NN

Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 1238

Email Margaret

Richard Walker

Research and Enterprise Directorate

Queen’s University Belfast,

63 University Road,

Belfast, BT7 1NF

Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 2548

Email Richard

Sinead Cahill

Research and Enterprise Directorate

Queen’s University Belfast,

63 University Road,

Belfast, BT7 1NF

Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 1010

Email Sinead

For further information about individual projects, please contact the lead supervisor who is listed in the table of projects under Projects for 2017-18 entry. All candidates are advised to make contact with lead supervisors before application.