Apply Now for the Career Development Fellowship 2024 (Fully Funded)


About the Career Development Fellowship

Applications are now open for the Career Development Fellowship 2024. The Career Development Fellowship (CDF) is a four-year postdoctoral research fellowship that aims to support the retention in STEM of researchers from underrepresented backgrounds. The scheme will initially run as a pilot with researchers of black heritage. If successful, the pilot may be broadened to researchers from other underrepresented groups.

The scheme has been developed following cross-sector roundtables and Royal Society-commissioned reports that looked at trends across 11 years of Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) data and benchmarked the society’s early career fellowships (PDF) against the eligible applicant pool.

This process identified a need for interventions across the academic pipeline to support researchers from Black or mixed Black African, Black Caribbean, or other Black heritage backgrounds, particularly those making the transition from postgraduate to early postdoctoral stages.

Fellowships will provide funding to conduct high-quality research and a comprehensive programme of mentoring, training, and networking opportunities to support award holders in establishing a successful research career in the UK.

Benefits of the Career Development Fellowship

  • Up to £690,000 over four years to cover the Research Fellow’s salary and associated on-costs (at 80%), directly allocated costs (at 80%) and research expenses;
  • A high-quality programme of training, mentoring and engagement to support career development;
  • Flexibility to accommodate personal circumstances, including part-time work. There is also provision for maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave.

Applicants can request relocation and visa costs for themselves and their dependants (partner and children). These costs can be requested in addition to the total grant cap of £690,000 over four years.

Eligibility Criteria

Research must be within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes but is not limited to biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. For a full list, please see the breakdown of subject groups and areas supported by the Royal Society.

You can apply for the pilot scheme if you:

  • Self-identify as being from a Black heritage including mixed Black background;
  • Have a PhD or will have one by the time the funding starts, but have less than 24 months of post-doctoral experience;

UK and non-UK domiciled researchers who wish to research in the UK are eligible. Before applying, please ensure that you meet all eligibility requirements, laid out in the scheme notes.

Application Process

Before the scheme opens to applications on 7 November, you should:

  • Read the scheme notes and FAQs thoroughly
  • Check your eligibility against the scheme notes
  • Identify and confirm support from your sponsor, and check they are based at an eligible host organisation
  • Flag your intention to apply to the research office at your host organisation

When the scheme opens to applications on 7 November, you should: 

  • Begin your application. The form can be accessed through the Society’s grant management system Flexi-Grant®. It doesn’t need to be completed in one session, you can save your application in the draft and return it
  • Allow enough time for your application to be reviewed and approved by your research office
  • Ensure you submit your application by 24 January 2024; you can only do this once all participants (e.g. Head of Department, nominated referee, etc) have completed their sections of the application form and clicked ‘save and submit’

What happens when the scheme deadline has passed: 

  • Following eligibility checks, your application will be assessed by a Panel of scientists with broad scientific expertise
  • Panel members will review and score applications; and subsequently shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Panel to find out more about their proposed research

Support for Disabled Applicants

The Royal Society welcomes applications from disabled applicants and provides adjustments to ensure that they can participate fully in the selection process. If you need an adjustment when accessing the application form, attending interviews, or for any other part of the application process, please contact the Grants Team via CDF@royalsociety.org or call +44 20 7451 2666. Adjustments can include but are not limited to:

  • Extension of the deadline
  • Additional support to complete the application form
  • Technical support during interviews for candidates with hearing or visual impairments
  • Support during interviews for neurodiverse candidates and candidates with mental health conditions
  • Additional costs to support candidates requiring a chaperone during interviews

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