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Fellowships are personal awards which include the salary of the fellow as well as, most of the time, a budget for research (consumables, equipment etc. and sometimes even staff salary and PhD studentship), travel (conferences, collaborations and secondments) and personal development. 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. For this reason, they make you more competitive for permanent academic positions and other funding applications.

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 successful, and start planning at least 6 months in advance (but ideally as soon as possible).

This section includes:


First steps


Applying for a fellowship takes a lot of time and energy so here is some advice to get started on the right foot:

  1. Start thinking about it as early as possible, even if you don't think you'll apply before a year or two. Have a look at schemes and use your time to strategically develop your CV to become an ideal applicant and think about what you'd like your project to be
  2. Identify a good supportive mentor who agrees to help you with the process and welcome you in their group if successful. Without previous experience, writing a fellowship can be challenging and you will need their help (in addition, you may require the support of your Head of School or Centre Director)
  3. Look for potential schemes that would suit your situation
  4. Watch the relevant videos mentioned on this page and the resources funders provide on their website, including guidance for applicants
  5. Contact the Research Development team to get advice and ensure that you are aware of the potential internal selection processes (managed bids), peer-review processes and associated deadlines
  6. Make a plan including these deadlines, allowing time to develop ideas, contact collaborators, write and seek feedback from colleagues
  7. Log your intention to apply early on the Research Application System

Note that the process is very long. We advise you to start thinking about it at least 6 months in advance. There can be months passing between the time of application and the start date if successful so be careful not to wait for the end of your contract to apply, and have a contingency plan in place.

Examples of fellowships

There are many different kinds of fellowships, which are suitable for:

  • Different career stages (just out of PhD, developing independence, establishing an independent group, returning to research...)
  • Different research areas
  • Different aims / circumstances (encouraging mobility, supporting exposure to industry, re-entry after a career break...)

To identify calls that would suit your situation, you can look at the Research Development fellowship page and follow the advice we give to identify funding on our Funding page (Identifying funding) including the ECR Central database.

Training and resources
Fellowship Application Videos
Getting started with your proposal

This series of 9 online training videos have been designed to help postdocs understand fellowships and start their application.

It includes: "Introduction to fellowships", "Finding a fellowship", "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"

In addition to the videos, fellowship applicants can receive additional support by the Research Development Team, such as feedback on draft and mock interviews (see contacts in the Research Development Team on the R&E staff directory).

Watch the fellowship videos

The videos are accessible by Queen's staff and students.

Access to the videos and additional support can be granted on demand to external candidates developing a proposal to join Queen's University Belfast. The candidates would need to be supported by a Queen's academic and School as well as have contacted Research Development ( to discuss the feasibility of their application.

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Research Development fellowship training
Fellowship information courses

The Research Development team organises regular information sessions and training courses on the topic of fellowships and make some recordings available. These include workshops from research development experts, panel discussions with fellows, funders' sessions etc.

View the Research Development team's fellowships training resources (intranet)

Resources from Dr Alison Garden
Blogs, tips, guides and event recordings about funding (especially relevant to Arts and Humanities research)

Alison is one of Queen's first UKRI Future Leaders Fellows. She also held a Leverhulme Fellowship, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, and a range of small grants and awards. She has written a range of guides full of tips based on her experience and even organised online events on funding opportunities post-PhD (#ECRday2021: Academic opportunities after the PhD: postdocs, fellowships & more; #ECRday2022: Two days of online AHSS focused talks exploring life after the PhD!; ECRday2023: Opportunities beyond the PhD for AHSS researchers), for which recordings are available.

View Alison's website

View #ECRday2022 videos on the PDC website

View #ECRday2023 videos on the PDC website

More online training
Externally-provided grant application modules

The Nature Masterclasses online training package, which you can access for free as Queen's staff, includes a 3h15 lesson on "Persuasive Grant Writing", helping you to apply narrative tools to align your proposal with the funders' objectives.

How to access Nature Masterclasses

The Elsevier Researcher Academy also provides free videos on funding and grant writing for early career researchers.

Generating preliminary data

Having some preliminary data can significantly strengthen a funding application by showing the reviewers that your proposal is based on concrete evidence (even if limited).

Several initiatives are available at Queen's to help you generate preliminary work:

  • Protected time: your 10 development days allocation per year can be used to explore your own research interests and develop a proposal; the best is to plan and discuss this as part of your yearly PDR (See policy page on the 10 career development days and PDR).
  • Internal funding: postdocs are eligible to apply for the Agility Fund, which notably supports the development of relationships and preliminary work to strengthen funding applications.
  • Workforce to generate the work: postdocs are enabled to propose undergraduate and postgraduate taught research project (in disciplines where this is possible); proposing a project to generate preliminary work for a fellowship can allow you to have a student working with you to generate the data. This of course requires you providing appropriate supervision and support to the student, as well as having an academic involved, notably to check the project's quality and ensure it aligns with the degree requirements of the student's programme (see policy page including supervision guidance for postdocs).
The Narrative CV

The Narrative CV format is being introduced by most UK funders by 2024 and is part of a drive by the Research and Innovation sector to improve Research Culture, notably by recognising the importance of a wider range of contributions by researchers and moving away from using inaccurate and narrow metrics as indicators of research quality. It is mainly used for research funding applications, but may be applied in some fashion to other processes in the future.

Resources to help you prepare a narrative CV:

Support for applicants

The Research Development team provides expert support to fellowship candidates, in addition to the support already mentioned on our Funding page (RD team support).

This includes:

  • One-to-one meetings to discuss your goals, help you plan your application and provide you advice
  • Feedback on drafts
  • Organising the peer-review of your application (Faculty peer-review is mandatory in the MHLS and AHSS Faculties, as well as for fellowship schemes eligible for institutional support)
  • Assisting with the obtention of your letters of support
  • Organising mock interviews (when relevant; some fellowship schemes do not have interviews)

To contact the team, email or find the appropriate person on the R&E staff directory.

Support for fellows at Queen's

The University provides a range of developmental and financial advantages for individuals who successfully secure an external fellowship or New Investigator Award.

This package of support is provided to successful candidates with fellowships of minimum two years, with different levels depending on the fellowship's career stage, length and the value of the award.

Support can include:

  • Membership of the Fellowship Academy, which provides tailored development support for fellows
  • Start-up fund
  • Funded PhD studentship
  • Career pathway to a permanent academic position

More details on the Research and Enterprise Intranet.


Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship Scheme

Most Universities offer internally-funded fellowships to attract promising researchers to their institution, often referred to as Vice-Chancellor's Fellowships. At Queen's, they are named Illuminate.

Illuminate, the Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship scheme, is designed to nurture high-potential independent early-career researchers, developing the research leaders of the future. Researchers appointed to this scheme benefit from protected research time, support and training via the "Fellowship Academy", a fully-funded PhD studentship and fast-tracking career progression to Senior Lecturer or Reader (T&Cs apply). The research of the candidates must align with Queen's research strategy and complement existing strengths.

More information on Illuminate