Being awarded a fellowship is a key element to become competitive for tenure academic positions.

Fellowships are personal awards which include the salary of the fellow as well as, most of the time, a budget for research (consummables, equipment etc. and sometimes even staff salary and PhD studentship), travel (conferences, collaborations and secondements) and personal training. They are awarded to one Person to carry out one Project in one Place (3Ps).

From a career development point of view, fellowships are not just a way to work on the specific field you are interested in, they also helps demonstrating your independence and ability to attract funding.

Fellowships are very prestigious awards and thus are highly competitive! Applying to one needs to be carefully planned; we strongly advise that you to seek out all the help you can get to increase your chances of being succesful, notably by engaging with the Fellowship Application Support Programme (see below).

Institutional Vice-Chancellor's Fellowships

Illuminate Fellowship scheme

Illuminate is Queen's Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship scheme, designed to nurture high-potential independent early-career researchers, developing the research leaders of the future.

Researchers appointed in this scheme benefit from protected research time, support and training via the "Fellowship Academy" and fast-tracking career progression to Senior Lecturer or Reader (T&Cs apply).

Applications to the scheme are welcome at any time and are reviewed 3 times a year.

More information on Illuminate

Other institutional fellowships

Fellowships funded by Universities

Institutional fellowships are funded and advertised by Universities themselves, sometimes with funds obtained from external funders. They are usually highly prestigious and competitive and allow the fellows to develop their own research project at the University, sometimes in a specific field.

Before the creation of the "Illuminate" Fellowship scheme, such fellowships at Queen's University Belfast have been called the Pro-Vice Chancellor's fellowships, QUB fellowships or Patrick G. Johnston fellowships. They usually are for 3 to 4 years and, in addition to the fellow's salary, include a start-up package and advantages (studentship, mentoring etc.). At QUB, those fellowships usually lead to a permanent lecturer position upon meeting some specific probation criteria. The QUB fellowships are advertised in an ad hoc manner so keep an eye on this page. The format varies between calls. From 2019, institutional fellowships for independent researchers will be part of the Illuminate scheme.

QUB also punctually advertises early-career institutional fellowships, flagged towards specific disciplines, to enable talented postdocs in the early stages of their career to develop their own research, notably the Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowships.

Last institutional fellowships adertised at QUB (outside of the Illuminate scheme):

Wellcome Trust ISSF Early Stage Researcher Fellowships (close 14/06/19)

Patrick G. Johnston (Vice-Chancellor's) Fellowships (close 22/10/18)

Wellcome Trust ISSF Early Stage Researcher Fellowships (close 14/09/18)

Patrick G. Johnston (Vice-Chancellor's) Fellowships (close 08/05/18)

Wellcome Trust ISSF Early Stage Researcher Fellowships (close 14/09/18)


Other universities also regulartly advertise their own institutional fellowships so keep an eye on their websites.

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External Fellowships

Fellowships funded by external funders

External fellowships are funded by various organisations such as UK Research and Innovation (including Research Councils: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Medical Research Council...), charities (Wellcome trust, Cancer Research UK...) and societies (Royal society...).

There is a plethora of fellowships available for different fields and career stages.

External fellowships cover a wide range of research fields and career stages. They can be aimed at early career researchers in their first years post PhD, who will be mentored by a PI; at people going back to research after a career break; at researchers wishing to move country or at experienced postdocs starting their own group.

They fund the salary of the researcher and sometimes also include a functionning budget (consumables, travel, training...) or even the salary of additional staff (technician, postdoc...).

Examples of fellowships:

University research fellowships (Royal Society)

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (European commission)

Sir Henry Dale fellowships (Wellcome trust)

Early career fellowships (Leverhulme trust)

Future Leaders fellowship (UKRI)

Career Development fellowship (Cancer Research UK)

More examples

This list is of course not exhaustive and it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming to try to identify the right fellowship to apply for. Thankfully, there are tools to help you like Research professional and the Funding newsletter (See Funding Tools), a funding identification workshop ("Find your Fellowship" as part of the Fellowship Application Support Programme; see below) as well as an entire department dedicated to help you apply for funding: Research Development.

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Support for postdocs

PDC / RD Fellowship Application Support Programme

This programme is developped to help postdocs plan and write the different parts of their applications as well as provide feedback and interview preparation.

The PDC and Research Development are currently re-shaping the Fellowship Application Support Programme, which will be provided mainly as online training videos covering various aspect of the proposal (expected release: Summer 2019).

#1 Online Training Videos

A series of training videos are currently being developped in collaboration with University experts to help postdocs with the different aspects that need to be covered in a fellowship proposal. Expected release: Summer 2019.

Provisional topics are: "Introduction to fellowships", "Searching for fellowship calls", "Tips for a successful application (what to think about before starting to write)", "Research proposal", "Impact and dissemination", "Institution and support", "Finance", "CV and career plan" and "Ethical considerations".

#2 Key contacts

A list of key contacts and QUB experts will be provided to help applicants and provide feedback if needed. In all cases, the first point of contact for applicants will be the Research Development team.

#3 Draft review

Feedback on proposals will be provided (except on the science itself) by Research Development and, in some cases, by the peer-review college. This will require submitting your draft at least 6 weeks before your deadline.

Separatelly, feedback on your lay abstract can be provided by non-scientists (contact the PDC: pdcfmhls@qub.ac.uk).

#4 Mock interview

If you are selected for an interview, a mock interview panel will be organised to help you prepare.

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Focus on the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

Timeline for application (for round 3):

  • QUB internal deadline: 15 July 2019 (open)
  • UKRI Expression Of Interest Deadline: TBC Sep 2019
  • Full application deadline: TBC Oct 2019

New deadlines will be advertised in the future for the next rounds of the call.


Please email Research Development with any queries you may have.

Note that UKRI previously organised a series of Town-hall meetings, and webinars to inform potential applicants and answer questions. Check the programme here.

Internal candidates:

Prospective applicants need to submit the EoI form and CV (use template below) to Research Development by 5 pm on 15 July 2019 for review.

Download the EoI form Download CV template

External candidates:

External candidates wishing to apply for a FLF at Queen’s should contact Research Development to request the necessary documents.

Contact Research Development

Are you an early career researcher?? Are you interested in applying to a fellowship position at Queen’s University Belfast? 

The Research Development team are currently running a managed bid process for Round 4 of the UKRI (United-Kingdom research and Innovation) Future Leaders Fellowships (FLF). These enable early career researchers and innovators to transition to or establish their research or innovation independence in any area supported by UKRI.

The FLF offers long-term, flexible support, including the fellow's salary and justified research, staff and training costs, with up to seven years of support available, and the opportunity of a permanent academic position on successful completion of the fellowship. Applicants are expected to hold a doctorate by the fellowship start date or to be able to demonstrate equivalent experience. There are no restrictions based on years since completion of PhD, nationality, or whether the applicant currently holds a permanent/open-ended academic position. Please see here for the scheme overview document, and here for a snapshot of our research highlights.

As FLF positions require a financial commitment from the host institution, the call is being managed by the Research Development team on behalf of the University. Prospective applicants should email Research Development, who will be able to provide the forms that are required for the internal process. Research Development will also be able to put you in touch with academic researchers from all of our schools within the Faculties of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, and Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. A senior panel of academics will review CVs and Expression of Interest forms of all applicants, to select and mentor the strongest submissions forward to full applications.

The timeline for application to apply for a UKRI FLF at QUB is below.

QUB internal deadline: 15 July 2019

UKRI Expression Of Interest Deadline: TBC Sep 2019

Full application deadline: TBC Oct 2019

Please email Research Development with any queries you may have.

For help related to identifying and applying for funding, go to Funding tools

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