Senior fellowships

The offer


Senior fellowships are an opportunity for an established researcher in a senior academic role (senior lecturer / associate professor or above ) to undertake a visionary, field-changing sabbatical, unencumbered by routine duties.

What we offer

A senior fellowship is intended to be held full-time for six to twelve months in order to maximise the benefits of the sabbatical. We will consider awarding part-time senior fellowships, at a minimum of 0.5TE, over a maximum of 24 months. The fellowship funds can be used to cover back-fill lecturer pay, research and/or sabbatical costs up to £100,000 in total.

This money can be used flexibly, but may not be used to fund additional researcher time on the project or salaries other than back-fill lecturer time. Funding is made available exclusively to release the senior fellow from routine work to enable focus on the specific work proposed for the duration of the fellowship.

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

Selection criteria

Who can apply

Applications are welcome from individuals with clinical or non-clinical professional backgrounds and from a range of disciplines.

You must be currently based at a UK university but may choose to spend your sabbatical at another institution, for example, another university in the UK or abroad, or a think-tank, healthcare provider or policy organisation.

Applicants must be approved by their university’s administrative or financial authority. More than one application per university can be submitted.

What we’re looking for

We will assess:

  • Your record of academic excellence in improvement research
  • The vision of your proposed fellowship work and how it will make a difference in the broad field of improvement research
  • Your record of leadership in forming collaborations to maximise influence and impact
  • Your commitment to advancing improvement research

Your university department

Contact your university department as early as possible in the application process. Applicants will need to have gained approval in principle from the Head of School / Vice Chancellor, or other senior post-holder as appropriate, to undertake the fellowship.

What’s expected of the host institution?

If you will be based at another institution for a sabbatical, the host should be in a position to guarantee you space and facilities for the full period of the fellowship.

Application stages

How to apply

All applications must be submitted via our Fellowship Management SystemAll 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. Shortlisted applications will be sent for external peer review.

4. Interview

Interviews will take place in Cambridge.

5. Final decision

We will write to you to confirm our final decision.


We will host senior fellow competitions annually between 2018 and 2026.


Frequently Asked Questions

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

We will consider awarding part-time senior fellowships, at a minimum of 0.5TE, over a maximum of 24 months. 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?

Your fellowship can begin at any time during 2020. Please contact us should you have other preferences.

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

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

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

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

Do you allow any costs for staff other than back-fill lecturer time within the fellowship

No. The award has a maximum budget of £100,000 per Senior Fellow, to cover back-fill lecturer pay, research and/or sabbatical costs. The funding may not be used to fund additional researcher or administrative time on the project, or salaries other than backfill lecturer time. The figures should be adjusted pro rata if the applicant is part-time.

Do applicants need to hold a lecturing post?

A lecturing post (i.e. an academic post with teaching and/or academic administration duties) is not essential. However, if an applicant is wholly focused on research and has no lecturing or administrative responsibilities, it may be difficult to convince the fellowship review panel that they require support to focus on research. A senior fellowship and the associated backfill salary is intended to release people from their current roles. The fellowship is not intended to replace salaries that are already being supported from another source.

Are applicants with clinical duties eligible?

Yes. The purpose of the funding is to liberate the applicant to take a sabbatical. We will fund backfill costs whether they arise from teaching and administrative duties and / or from clinical commitments. We therefore encourage clinical applicants. All applicants will need to show that they will genuinely be released from duties to deliver on their sabbatical commitments.