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Early Career Fellowships

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 universities or at other institutions of higher education in the UK. 

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 institution.


The Trust will contribute 50% of each Fellow's total salary costs up to a maximum of £25,000 per year and the balance is to be paid by the host institution. Each Fellow may request annual research expenses of up to £6,000 per year 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.

Employment and funding status

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.

Academic status

All candidates must hold a doctorate or have equivalent research experience 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 27 February 2020. 

Candidates must not be registered for degrees, professional or vocational qualifications at the time of commencing the Fellowship.

Applications are invited from those with a doctorate who 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 27 February 2016 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.

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 2019 are not eligible. The Trust will consider candidates without a UK degree whose UK academic post commenced after October 2019 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.

Place of tenure

The Fellowships are tenable in any university or institution of higher education in the UK.

Fellows are employees of the institution at which they hold their award and subject to that institution's terms and conditions of employment.

The Fellow must be resident in the UK for the duration 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 institution) should nominate a new host institution, or otherwise demonstrate clear evidence of the academic and/or personal reasons for remaining at the same institution, 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.

Matching funding

The matching funding contributed by the host institution must be drawn from generally available funds and cannot be associated with any other grants received by the institution.

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.

Other applications

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.

Topic and fields of study

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.

What the Trust offers

Approximately 100 Fellowships are available each year. 

Duration and timing

The awards are tenable for 36 months and are not renewable.

A Fellowship must commence between 1 September 2020 and 1 May 2021. 

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 within a UK higher education institution during the period of the award.

Research funds

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 £150 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). 

Host institution commitments

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. Whilst it is desirable for the Early Career Fellow to gain some teaching experience, 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
Financial commitments

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 £25,000 in each year of the award (pro-rated if the Fellowship is held on a part-time basis), and
  • the balance is to be contributed by the host institution

The Trust’s contribution in subsequent years will normally increase in line with pay awards and normal increments up to the annual maximum of £25,000. 

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 institution must be drawn from generally available funds and cannot be associated with any other grants received by the institution.  

Host institutions 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.

Ineligible costs

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.

How to apply

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 institution by 4pm on the closing date of 27 February 2020. Institutional approval is required both from the head of the host department and from an administrative officer on behalf of the host institution. 

Nominated referees will also be required to provide their references via the online system within two weeks after the closing date.

Applicants will be informed of the result of their applications by email at the end of May 2020.

Practising artists

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.

Feedback on applications

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. 

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