For early career researchers, with a research record but who have not yet held a full-time permanent academic post, to undertake a significant piece of publishable work
Fellowships can be held at UK universities with research degree awarding powers.
The Fellowships are intended to assist those at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, and it is hoped that the appointment would lead to a more permanent position for the individual, either within the same or another university.
The scheme is based on a pattern of joint support whereby the Leverhulme Trust will contribute 50% of the Fellow’s total salary costs (including National Insurance, superannuation and London allowance, where applicable) up to a maximum of £26,000 in each year of the award, and the balance is to be contributed by the host university. The Trust’s contribution in subsequent years will normally increase in line with pay awards and normal increments up to the annual maximum of £26,000. The Trust’s maximum annual contribution will be pro-rated if the Fellowship is held on a part-time basis. The Fellow may request up to £6,000 per annum in research expenses to further his or her research activities.
Fellowships are tenable for 3 years on a full-time basis. The Trust will support requests to hold the award part-time over a proportionately longer period for health related reasons, disability or childcare commitments.
Before beginning your application, please read the information below or download it as a PDF Guidance for Applicants.
Applicants must not yet have held a full-time permanent academic post in a UK university or comparable UK institution, nor may Fellows hold such a post concurrently with the Early Career Fellowship. The Trust will consider applications from candidates whose permanent post does not include any research.
Those in receipt of a stipendiary Fellowship may not hold this at the same time as an Early Career Fellowship.
Applicants who have existing funding in place for a duration equivalent to or greater than the duration of the Early Career Fellowship should not apply.
All candidates must hold a doctorate by the time they take up the Fellowship.
Those who are or have been registered for a doctorate at any time may apply only if they have submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination by 4pm on the closing date of 22 February 2024.
Candidates must not be registered for degrees, professional or vocational qualifications at the time of commencing the Fellowship.
All candidates must have submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination not more than four years prior to the application closing date. Hence those who formally submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination before 22 February 2020 are not eligible unless they have since had a career break. Those wishing to make a case for a career break should present the case for interruption by a period of maternity leave, family commitments, illness, or other exceptional circumstances. Please note that time spent working outside academia does not qualify as a career break.
Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the Trust will accept applications from candidates who submitted their doctoral thesis for examination up to five years prior to the closing date if they can make a case for their work having been impacted by the pandemic. Hence those who formally submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination between 22 February 2019 and 22 February 2020 are eligible to apply if their work has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and they should explain their case in their application.
Applicants must either hold a degree (any degree) from a UK higher education institution at the time of taking up the Fellowship or at the time of the application deadline must hold an academic position in the UK (e.g. fixed-term lectureship, fellowship) which commenced no less than 4 months prior to the closing date. Hence, those who do not hold a UK degree and whose UK academic position commenced after October 2023 are not eligible. The Trust will consider candidates without a UK degree whose UK academic post commenced after October 2023 if they have been in continuous UK academic employment for more than 4 months prior to the deadline. The intention is to support the career development of those building an academic career within the UK.
Candidates who have been, or are currently a Principal Investigator on a three-year post-doctoral research project, or have held or currently hold a comparable three-year post-doctoral position to pursue their own research are not eligible to apply.
The Fellowships are tenable in UK universities with research degree awarding powers.
Fellows are employees of the university at which they hold their award and subject to that university's terms and conditions of employment.
The Fellow must be resident in the UK during tenure of the Fellowship.
The Trust believes that the development of an academic career is best served by gaining experience at different institutions. Applicants who have not already moved institutions in the course of their academic career (i.e. between their undergraduate university and proposed host university) should nominate a new host university, or otherwise demonstrate clear evidence of the academic and/or personal reasons for remaining at the same university, such as access to highly specialist equipment or a highly specialised research team.
Requests to transfer
Once awarded a Fellowship, a request to transfer the place of tenure will normally only be considered where there is clear evidence of career development opportunities and such requests are very unlikely to be approved unless the Fellow has been in post for at least one year at the time of the request. Requests to transfer an award prior to take-up of a post will not be considered.
The matching funding contributed by the host university must be drawn from generally available funds and cannot be associated with any other grants received by the university.
The host department must secure the matching funding for the applicant before the closing date and it must be specifically allocated to the individual concerned.
Applications that do not meet these conditions are ineligible and will be rejected.
A candidate may submit only one application per year.
Previously unsuccessful applicants may reapply.
Candidates may not apply for both an Early Career Fellowship and a Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Studentship in the same year.
Candidates who have held a Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship for postdoctoral research are not eligible to apply for an Early Career Fellowship. Candidates should consider carefully which of these two schemes best suit their requirements. Please note, this only applies to the 2019 award schemes onwards.
The objective is for Fellows to undertake a significant piece of publishable research during the tenure of the award, and the project put forward should therefore not be a reworking or mere extension of the candidate’s doctoral research project.
Applications will be considered in all subject areas except:
- Studies of disease, illness and disabilities in humans and animals
- Research that is intended to inform clinical practice or the development of medical applications
The Trust excludes these areas because substantial funding is available from other sources for applied medical research, and the Trust’s priority is to support investigations of a fundamental nature. Please see the full details on research we do not fund here.
Approximately 145 Fellowships are available in 2024.
The awards are tenable for 36 months and are not renewable.
A Fellowship must commence between 1 September 2024 and 1 May 2025.
The Trust will support requests to hold the award part-time over a proportionately longer period for health-related reasons, disability or childcare commitments. Those holding the Fellowship part time may not undertake any other employment during the period of the award.
In recognition of the prestige of these awards and to enable the Fellow's research, up to £6,000 a year will be available for research expenses. The following are examples, rather than an exclusive list, of possible research expenditure: conference attendance, conference organisation (in the UK only), travel and subsistence for research trips in the UK or overseas, research assistance, laboratory consumables.
For UK and overseas subsistence (including accommodation) the Trust can contribute up to a maximum of £200 per day. For visits over 21 days it is expected that the daily rate used will be lower than the maximum.
Capital items (such as items of equipment and books) are eligible, up to a limit of £1,000 for each budget item but require explicit justification (please note, the Trust expects the host department to provide standard computing equipment e.g. a desktop computer).
It is not possible to claim more than £6000 in year one, but any funds not used or claimed can be carried over or claimed in later years (e.g. if you use £5000 in year one, up to £7000 will be available in year two).
Teaching is not compulsory, although it is understood that the Early Career Fellow may wish to gain some teaching experience during their award period. However, as the primary purpose of the scheme is to enable the award holder to undertake a significant piece of publishable research, as described in the application, the Trust’s expectations are as follows:
- teaching should average no more than 3 hours per teaching week in term time
- the subjects taught will relate to the main thrust of the Fellow’s research interests and not simply to the department’s needs
- the host department should take into account the amount of preparation time alongside the number of teaching hours
- a modest amount of examining associated with any teaching undertaken is permissible, but if the Fellow is asked to undertake any administrative tasks, these should relate directly to the teaching and/or research (s)he does
- total time spent on teaching duties (i.e. preparation, teaching, examining, marking and administration) should not exceed one day per teaching week in term time
- the Fellow's teaching should not hinder progress on his or her research project
- the Fellow or head of department should provide the Trust with details of the Early Career Fellow’s teaching duties at the start of each year or term
The scheme is based on a pattern of joint support whereby:
- the Trust will contribute 50% of the Fellow’s total salary costs (including National Insurance, superannuation and London allowance, where applicable) up to a maximum of £26,000 in each year of the award (pro-rated if the Fellowship is held on a part-time basis),
- the balance is to be contributed by the host university.
The Trust’s contribution in subsequent years will normally increase in line with pay awards and normal increments up to the annual maximum of £26,000.
Institutional approval by the host institution is required as part of the application procedure, confirming that the necessary financial commitment can be made and providing details of the facilities with which the Fellow will be provided. It is a condition that the host department has identified and secured the source of the matching funding for an applicant by the closing date, and that this is specifically allocated to the individual concerned. The matching funding contributed by the host university must be drawn from generally available funds and cannot be associated with any other grants received by the university.
Host universities should ensure that the starting salary has been agreed with the applicant prior to finalising the application, and that this is in line with the university's salary policy.
Host departments must provide the candidate with their own computer and dedicated desk and/or laboratory space.
Host departments must also provide the candidate with the necessary computing equipment for working from home, where applicable.
The Leverhulme Trust cannot contribute towards institutional charges for accommodation or overheads.
Please note that the Trust does not make awards on a full economic costing basis. Please consult paragraphs 3.31 to 3.37 of the Science & Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014, HM Treasury (July 2004), which explains arrangements for the provision of overheads linked to charity funding.
Please ensure that your application does not include any ineligible costs.
To make an application, please access the Leverhulme Trust Grants Management System. The recommended browser to use is Google Chrome.
When completing the online application form, please refer to the Application Help Notes.
Applications must be approved and submitted to the Trust by the host university by 4pm on the closing date of 22 February 2024. Institutional approval is required both from the head of the host department and from an administrative officer on behalf of the host university.
Nominated referees will also be required to provide their references via the online system within three weeks after the closing date.
Applicants will be informed of the result of their applications by email at the end of May 2024.
Practising artists should provide online access to up to 12 images, or a short excerpt of their film or music, as appropriate. Please include the link to your work in your Detailed Statement of Proposed Research.
Due to the large number of applications received to this scheme, it is not possible to provide feedback regarding the reasons for rejection to individual applicants.
Please see below for general feedback on common reasons previous applications were unsuccessful.
For all applicants:
- In many cases the proposed research is highly original and the application of excellent quality, but other applications are ranked more highly, and funds are limited.
- The proposed research project does not demonstrate sufficient progression from the applicant’s doctoral thesis.
- In instances where the applicant has not moved during their academic career (between their undergraduate degree and their proposed ECF host university), the explanation of academic and/or personal reasons for this is unclear.
- The proposed research project requires a team approach and the individual’s contribution and responsibilities are not clearly identified.
- The description of the research project is too general.
- It is not clear that the applicant possesses the skills required to successfully deliver the proposed project.
- The application includes overblown claims to originality and/or fails to reference previous work in the research area.
- The potential contribution of the project to the wider research area is not adequately addressed.
For applicants in the Sciences:
- Insufficient attention is paid to potential mitigations in high-risk research proposals.
- The research methodology is not as clearly articulated as the project description.
- The research methodology is overly technical without a clear rationale in relation to the project as a whole.
- The extent to which highly technical research methodologies are innovative within their field of research is not made explicit.