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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Information for prospective Postdoctoral Fellows

The Department is keen to receive applications from outstanding early career scholars who have recently completed their doctorate or are in its final stages, both from the UK and internationally. Your research area should be within the scope of the Department and you are strongly encouraged to make contact with at least one member of the permanent teaching and research staff to explore how you might link in. Most postdoctoral funding schemes will require a mentor or sponsor within the department, who should be a member of permanent academic staff, or a close affiliate with one of the interdisciplinary Centres. Make sure to check the funder's specific requirements before inviting someone to fulfil this role.

If you already have external funding for your postdoc, or are preparing an application which requires an invitation, you still need make an application to come to POLIS. You should send a copy of your CV, research proposal, two references and a statement of support from an internal sponsor in accordance with our application process for visitors. Please be aware that a bench fee will be chargeable for the duration of your stay in the Department. 

We are generally unable to directly fund postdoctoral fellows, unless a particular funded position has been announced (please, check here for paid positions at POLIS). However, the Department will support applications for externally funded fellowships, and be open to hosting projects funded through internal Cambridge programmes. All applications, internal or external, require approval from the Head of Department in accordance with the general research funding application guidance here. For the schemes listed below, this will generally be incorporated into the departmental selection process.


Annually recurring postdoctoral funding schemes

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships have an early October deadline, with institutional selection of candidates occurring in late September. Detailed information about the scheme including specific deadlines usually becomes available by July each year. Applicants must be UK or EEA nationals, or have completed a doctorate at a UK university.

Those wishing to apply through POLIS must submit an outline application form and confirm support of a mentor in the department. The 2021-2022 outline deadline was Monday 9th August, with details of the 2022-2023 call to be confirmed. Please contact the departmental Research Grant Administrator if you require a copy of this form and further details about the application process. Succesful applicants at the outline stage each year will be supported in preparing a full application to the British Academy in accordance with their deadlines.

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships are jointly funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Cambridge Isaac Newton Trust. Applicants must obtain match funding for their salary from the Isaac Newton Trust in order to be eligible to apply, and must have have submitted their PhD no earlier than 24 February 2018 (unless they have had a career break) and no later than 4pm on 24 February 2022. By the fellowship start date successful candidates must either have had their PhD awarded or hold an academic position in the UK. Applicants may not have held a full-time, permanent academic post in a UK university of comparable institution. Those interested in applying for this scheme via POLIS will need to submit the following documents (explained here) to the department Grant Administrator by 4pm on Tuesday 16th November.

  • a cover sheet
  • a brief c.v. (not exceeding two sides), and
  • a draft of the three items required for the Leverhulme application:
  1. a list of your major publications (maximum one side)
  2. a statement of your current research (maximum 250 words) and
  3. a detailed statement of your proposed research (maximum two sides).

Please also arrange for two references to be sent directly to the department's Research Grant Administrator (addressed ‘To whom it may concern..’ ) in time for the deadline. One should be from outside Cambridge, the other from inside. A third external reference will be required if you are awarded match-funding and invited to apply to Leverhulme. 

Applicants will be ranked in an internal competition with the top two then sent to the Isaac Newton Trust for consideration for match funding. Confirmations of match funding will be given in late January-early February to allow time to finalise applications by the Leverhulme deadline in late February.

ESRC New Investigator Awards are considered by a Cambridge selection panel three times per year in early November, March, and July. Applicants are required to complete a selection form and provide a supporting letter from the head of the host department. Internal application forms should be sent to the Research Grant Administrator at least one week before the confirmed deadline so that the supporting letters can be written. The department will then send the application forms and letters to the internal assessment panel directly. Successful candidates will be invited to undergo peer review by the School Research Facilitators. The final internal competition for 2021 has been announced, with a departmental deadline of 3rd November 2021.

Please contact the Research Grant Administrator for a copy of the application form and for further guidance on obtaining confirmation of departmental support.

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships. Open to applicants with 12 months postdoctoral experience or less with the aim of developing essential research and professional skills (those with no more than 12 months active postdoctoral research experience up to the applicaiton deadline. This was 23rd March in 2021, and the 2022 date is expected to be similar.

When the next call opens, applicants will need to complete the online form on the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership webpage, which will be available via the link above. Please contact the department's RGA if you intend to submit an application so that we can gauge interest and provide the salary estimates required for you to complete the Justification of Resources document.

In order to allow the Head of Department time to review applications and provide support statements, drafts of your application documents will need to be sent to the department's RGA in advance. The following timeline was used in 2021, and we expect 2022 to be similar:

-Case for Support, CV and publication lists by Tuesday 9th March 2021 to allow time for Head of Department letters to be prepared

-Justification of Resources/budget table one week later, by Tuesday 16th March 2021, so that we can check all figures and help you to finalise them.

-Final copies of all documents by the submission deadline of Tuesday 23rd March 2021, so that we have a copy for file.

Newton International Fellowships. For non-UK residents. Applications usually have to be submitted to the funder in late March, but this schedule has been disrupted in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. Those interested in applying to come to POLIS via this scheme must have a co-applicant who is permanently employed within the Department. When the scheme is open, we will need a CV, research proposal and two references to review before departmental support can be confirmed. Please contact the Research Grant Administrator for assistance in planning applications to this scheme.

The Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences  supports, promotes and conducts interdisciplinary research of the highest order. The Centre runs a wide variety of programmes which will be regularly advertised on their own website, and is based in the same building as the Department.


It is vital that you give the Research Grants Administrator (Dan Jones, good notice of your intention to apply for any of these schemes to allow departmental support to be confirmed.

You may ask the Research Grants Administrator for further info on these or other schemes, or for advice on costing your proposal.