Apply for a SeNSS ESRC-funded Post-Doctoral Fellowship

The 2019/20 Post-Doctoral Fellowship competition is now open!


SeNSS offers six ESRC-funded Post-Doctoral Fellowships (PDFs) each year. These provide an opportunity to consolidate their PhDs through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills.

Please note that the deadline for submitting an application for a PDF is 16.00 GMT on 22 March 2019. For an example of an excellent application, please see the Post-Doctoral Fellowship FAQs page.


The PDF grants provide funding for up to one year full-time, or up to two years part-time. In exceptional cases, applicants can apply for a fellowship for up to 18 months; however, this must be fully justified by the programme of activities being proposed.

Fellowships cover:

  • the Fellow's salary costs;

  • indirect costs;

  • estate costs; and,

  • up to £10,000 of other costs.

We particularly encourage applications from applicants whose proposal is aligned with UKRI/ESRC industrial strategy. For the last competition, the ESRC defined alignment as either addressing specific skills gaps (AQM or data skills/science) or as entailing direct engagement with a business or industry partner. 



This call is open to those who have:

1) completed their PhD at a research organisation that is part of a current ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT). A list of these DTPS and CDTs is available at the bottom of the ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowships web page; AND,

2) by the application deadline (22 March 2019), either been awarded a PhD or submitted their thesis and passed their viva voce (or passed with minor corrections), with the expectation that their PhD will be awarded by the Fellowship start date (1 October 2019); AND,

3) no more than 12 months of active post-doctoral experience. This 12 month period is calculated from the viva being passed to the closing date of the competition, 22 March 2019.



The SeNSS Consortium consists of the following ten universities:

·         City, University London

·         University of East Anglia

·         University of Essex

·         Goldsmiths, University of London

·         University of Kent

·         Reading University

·         Roehampton University

·         Royal Holloway, University of London

·         University of Surrey

·         University of Sussex



SeNSS offers Post-Doctoral Fellowships across 13 Pathways, which are discipline-based:

·         Business and Management Studies (offered by City, UEA, Essex, Kent, Reading, Royal Holloway,

              Surrey and Sussex);

·         Development Studies (offered by UEA, Reading, Royal Holloway, Surrey and Sussex);

·         Economics (offered by City, UEA, Essex, Reading, Royal Holloway, Surrey and Sussex);

·         Education (offered by UEA, Goldsmiths, Reading, Roehampton and Sussex);

·         Human Geography (offered by UEA, Reading, Royal Holloway and Sussex);

·         Linguistics (offered by UEA, Essex, Kent, Reading and Surrey);

·         Politics and International Relations (offered by UEA, Essex, Kent, Reading, Royal Holloway

              and Sussex);

·         Psychology (offered by UEA, Essex, Goldsmiths, Kent, Reading, Royal Holloway and Sussex);

·         Science, Technology, and Sustainability Studies (offered by UEA, Kent, Surrey and Sussex);

·         Social Anthropology (offered by UEA, Goldsmiths, Kent, Roehampton and Sussex);

·         Social Work and Social Policy (offered by UEA, Kent and Sussex);

·         Socio-Legal Studies (offered by UEA, Essex, Kent, Reading and Sussex); and,

·         Sociology (offered by City, Essex, Goldsmiths, Kent and Sussex).



  • Please read the ESRC’s documents (see below) carefully, and ensure you are eligible for a PDF.

  • If you are eligible, start thinking about, and drafting your topic and programme of work.

  • At the same time, think about who would be best-suited to mentoring you during your PDF, and make contact with that senior academic.

  • Submit your expression of interest to the Administrative Lead by 16.00 GMT on 20 January 2019. The form is available here. We ask that you submit an expression of interest by this date so that we can guage demand and support you in your application. However, if you have not submitted an expression of interest by 20 January 2019, this does not mean you are excluded from this competition. You can still submit a full application by 22 March 2019.

  • Once you have a draft of your topic and your proposed mentor has agreed to work with you, please contact the SeNSS Administrative Lead at the university you would like to be based at. The Lead will provide you with the link to FluidReview (SeNSS’s online application portal), and the access code you will need to create your application.

    • To create your application, complete the personal information form. Next, click on the green “view awards” button in the bottom left of the screen. This will take you to a page listing all the awards SeNSS currently offers.

    • Scroll down until you reach "Post-Doctoral Fellowship (University of xxx)” and click on the green “apply now” button opposite this to start your application.

    • Each time you log on to work on your application, it will then appear on your FluidReview home page, for ease of access.

  • Submit your full application via FluidReview by 16.00 GMT on 22 March 2019.


The ESRC has issued the following documents for PDFs starting in October 2019:

ESRC Call Specification - sets out what is included in a PDF awards, the eligibility criteria, what is required in the application etc.

  • Mentors: the ESRC requires fellows to have a mentor based at the research organisation where the fellowship is held (page 3 of the specification). The specification also says that, “a secondary mentor is permitted”. However, please note that SeNSS requires its fellows to have two mentors during their fellowship: one based at the fellow’s home institution, and one at another SeNSS institution. SeNSS has taken this position, which is endorsed by the ESRC, because we believe that having a second mentor from a different SeNSS university will strengthen the fellow’s research, expose the fellow to different institutional practices and increase the fellow’s access to professional academic and non-academic networks. 

  • Whilst it is ideal for applicants to name two mentors in their applications, it is not essential in order to be considered for a fellowship. However, fellows are expected to have confirmed their second mentor by the time they take up their awards.

ESRC PDF FAQs - provides answers to questions about PDF awards

ESRC PDF application form - please note that SeNSS will only accept online applications, via its FluidReview portal. However, the ESRC template form is included here to give you an idea of what is required of you should you decided to submit an application.

For an example of an excellent PDF application, please click here. Our thanks to one of our current Fellows, who has allowed parts of her application to be shared with prospective applicants.


If you have any queries, please contact the SeNSS administrative lead at the SeNSS partner university you plan to apply to, email the SeNSS office, at