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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 reviews of candidates taking place in early September. The British Academy’s deadline is 4th October 2023. Eligibility criteria and other details about the scheme from last year are available on the BA website right now, with updates for this year’s call expected to be made on the call open date.

Applicants must either be UK or EEA citizens or have received their PhD from a UK institution, and be within 3 years of completing their PhD. Applications from late-stage PhD students are also accepted providing their viva examination will be completed by April 2024. 

Those wishing to apply through POLIS must initially submit an internal application form, a summary budget, a CV with list of publications, and a brief supporting statement provided by your proposed mentor to the HSS School Research Team by Monday 28th August. Outcomes of this review will be announced in early September, with sponsored candidates invited to prepare their Outline applications on the British Academy’s Flexigrant portal thereafter. Please contact the HSS School Research Team to request a copy of the internal form. 

Outcomes of this review will be announced in early September, with sponsored candidates invited to prepare their Outline applications on the British Academy’s Flexigrant portal thereafter. Flexigrant submissions must be made in line with the Research Operations Office’s standard deadlines, which will be 2 working days before the BA deadline. Be aware that you will need to have completed all sections of the form (including obtaining your referee’s response) in order to be able to submit. Please make sure your referee is aware and available if you are invited to proceed.


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 submitted their PhD within 4 years of the submission deadline. By the fellowship start date successful candidates must either have had their PhD award confirmed or hold an academic position in the UK. Applicants may not have held a full-time, permanent academic post in a UK university or comparable institution.

Applications for 2023-24 are now closed. 

Those interested in applying for this scheme via POLIS will need to submit the following documents (explained here) to the HSS School Research Team by Thursday 2nd November.

  • a cover sheet
  • a brief CV (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 School Research Team (addressed ‘To whom it may concern..’ ) in time for the deadline. A maximum of one of the two can be from inside Cambridge. 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 an internal selection form and provide both a budget draft prepared by the School Research Team and a supporting letter from the hosting department's Head.

The deadline for the third internal competition in 2023 is Friday 3rd November. Internal application forms and budget drafts must be submitted by Friday 13th October so that the necessary documents can be prepared. The department will then return these to applicants with Head of Department support letters so that they can be uploaded to the online application form. Candidates successful in the internal competition will be invited to undergo peer review by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences' Research Facilitators.

Please contact the HSS School Research Team for more information about the funding scheme. 


ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships. Open to applicants with 12 months postdoctoral experience or less with the aim of developing essential research and professional skills.

This funding call is currently closed, with news of the 2024 round expected to be available in early 2024. Instructions from the 2023 call can be found below for reference - the 2024 process and dates are likely to be similar.

Applicants must complete the online form on the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership webpage, which will be available via the link above when the call is open. Please contact the HSS School Research Team 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 HSS School Research Team in advance in accordance with the following schedule:

-Case for Support, CV and publication list, and draft of the Head of Department Support letter (drafted by your proposed mentor) provided by Wednesday 1st March 2023 to allow time for Head of Department letters to be prepared.

-Justification of Resources/budget table provided no more than one week later, by Wednesday 8th March 2023, so that we can check all figures and help you to finalise them.

-Final copies of all documents provided by the submission deadline of Wednesday 22rd March 2023, so that we have a copy for file.


British Academy International Fellowship (replacing the Newton International Fellowships) - For non-UK residents only. Those interested in applying to come to POLIS via this scheme must have a co-applicant who is permanently employed within the Department. We will need a confirmation from the hosting co-applicant, CV, and research proposal to review before departmental support can be confirmed.

This funding call is currently closed, with news of the 2024 round expected to be available in January 2024.

Please contact the School Research Team for assistance in planning applications to this scheme.


The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) 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 HSS School Research Team good notice of your intention to apply for any of these schemes to allow departmental support to be confirmed.

You may contact the team for further info on these or other schemes, or for advice on costing your proposal.