Post-doctoral fellowships

The offer


Post-doctoral fellowships are an opportunity for exceptional early-career individuals to lead an extended period of research and contribute to the development of the field of healthcare improvement studies.

We are seeking applications from individuals with a clinical or non-clinical professional background in any discipline that can make a contribution to research focused on improving healthcare for people in the UK. Applicants must be supported by the head of an academic department (or equivalent) at a UK university.

What we offer

The award has a maximum value of £225,000 over the period of funding, regardless of length or clinical/non-clinical status of fellows. It is expected, at a minimum, that a university will use the funding to pay for:

  • Salary costs for the fellow including all on-costs (superannuation and NI)
  • Research costs (e.g. conference attendance, items of small equipment, transcription costs, meeting costs, and expenses for service-user participants)
  • Dissemination and publication costs, including at least two open-access publications

Leadership development is a key component of the post-doctoral fellowship. Fellows will participate in a facilitated cohort learning set, meeting regularly over the three-year period of their fellowship. Further details can be found in the guidance for applicants.

We offer membership of THIS Space and access to a mentoring scheme at no cost to fellows.

What we don’t offer

We don’t provide funds for estates, directly allocated or indirect costs.

Selection criteria

Who can apply

Any UK university may apply to the scheme. More than one application per university can be submitted.

Nominated individuals should have received their PhD between two and six years prior to the application. Their PhD should be in a discipline that is relevant to scientific efforts to improve healthcare.

A post-doctoral fellowship is intended to be held full-time for three years. Part-time applications (at a minimum of 0.6FTE) will be considered where, for example, applicants are undergoing clinical training or other circumstances apply.

What we’re looking for

The selection criteria will include:

Nominated candidate

  • Demonstration of a commitment to developing a career in improvement research
  • Application of rigorous research methods and scientific theory evidenced through outputs from doctoral and post-doctoral research
  • Evidence of publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Potential for forming collaborations, influencing and impact in activities to further the improvement of quality and safety of healthcare services
  • Vision, drive and ability to influence at system or organisational level and potential to act as a leader and advocate for improvement studies in the future
  • The suitability of the host organisation for the research and for developing an independent career.


  • Centre of academic excellence with a strong record of research and career development for researchers
  • Capability to provide a suitably supportive and dynamic context for the delivery of the proposed research programme and to contribute to the programme overall
  • Quality of environment, including facilities, collaborative networks, and ability to work productively with the NHS
  • A supportive environment for the fellow to aid personal and career development, including a suitably senior academic as named mentor and a commitment to advancing the fellow’s career

Research proposal

  • Relevant to improving quality and/or safety in UK healthcare
  • Synergistic with the department’s research programme
  • Demonstrates appropriate study design and research methods
  • Reflects an appropriately scoped review of the relevant, existing evidence and systematic reviews of that evidence

Application stages

How to apply

All applications must be submitted via our Fellowship Management System. All applications should be supported by the head of department and approved by an administrative authority/finance office in the applying university.

Stages of applications

1. Before you apply
We encourage you to check that your application is eligible and competitive by reading the guidance for applicants.

2. Submit your application
All applications must be submitted online through the Fellowship Management System.

3. Review and shortlisting
Applications will be assessed against the selection criteria included in the guidance for applicants. Short-listed applications will be sent for external peer-review.

4. Interview
Interviews will take place remotely or in Cambridge.

5. Final decision
All applicant universities will be notified of the funding decision.


Frequently Asked Questions

If I am part-time, what duration can my fellowship span?

Up to five years in duration. Part-time fellowships are offered at a minimum of 0.6FTE. When completing the application form the budget section has a tick box for full or part-time. If you select part-time a new section will appear, where you can specify your proposed length of fellowship.

Is it correct that my Head of Department and Finance advisor also complete part of the application?

Yes. Once you have uploaded the details for your Head of Department, they will receive an email inviting them to complete their section within the application. They are also required to check a declaration box relating to the application. You can continue to work on your application while this process is underway.

Your nominated financial contact will only receive an email asking for their approval once you have submitted the application. They will be required to check a declaration box. Please ensure that you submit the application in good time prior to the closing date to allow your financial approver time to check and confirm the application.

Is there a specific time by which I should begin my fellowship, if awarded?

Yes. All post-doctoral fellows will begin as a cohort in December 2021. There is an induction event in early December and a series of learning set events over the course of the fellowship. If you hold a part-time fellowship, we encourage you to attend all events during the first three years of your fellowship to facilitate discussion and learning amongst the cohort.

Can my University apply for two (or more) fellowships?

Yes. More than one application per university can be submitted.

If the project is multidisciplinary, which department should apply?

One lead department should be chosen that demonstrates high quality intellectual environment and support for the applicant and the capacity to nurture multidisciplinary connections. Details of the multidisciplinary nature of the proposed project should be made clear in the application, with any collaborating departments and their strengths clearly described.

Is it possible for my university to apply for fellowships at multiple levels (PhD/ post-doctoral fellowships)?

Yes, the same university can apply for multiple levels of fellowship. Please see the guidance documents on the fellowship pages for the requirements at each level.

Do you allow any costs for other staff within the fellowship?

No. Only direct costs relating to the post-doctoral candidate can be included in the application.

When I calculate the numbers of years I have been working post-PhD, should I include career breaks and/or take account of part-time work?

Yes. Please calculate the number of years that you have spent working 100%FTE since your PhD when checking your eligibility. For example, if you had worked four years’ full time, followed by one year of parental leave, and then returned to work for one year at 0.5FTE, this would equal 4.5 years’ 100% FTE post-PhD.

Apply for this fellowship

Log in to our Fellowship Management System. You can save your application and return to it at any time.

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