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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 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, and then meet all other terms outline on the BA's call page.

Those wishing to apply through POLIS must initially submit an outline application form, a CV with list of publications, and a draft supporting statement (to be provided by your proposed mentor). The statement will be first reviewed as part of the selection process and then used in the departmental response to the RSO, so please ensure it is formatted appropriately for the Head of Department to sign and send. Applications for the 2022-2023 round are now closed and will reopen in July 2023.


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 of comparable institution. Those interested in applying for this scheme via POLIS will need to submit the following documents (explained here) to the HSS School Research Team. Applications for the 2022-2023 round are now closed and will reopen in October 2023.

  • 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 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 a selection form, and provide both a budget prepared by the School Research Team and a supporting letter from the host department's Head. The deadline for the first internal competition in 2023 will be Monday 20th March. Internal application forms and draft budgets should be sent to the School Research Team by Wednesday 1st March so that the necessary documents can be prepared for applications that are given departmental support. The department will then return these to applicants with Head of Department 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 School Research Team 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.

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 - please arrange for these to be sent by Wednesday 8th March. Please be aware that the application will require two references (one proposed by the applicant, one proposed by the co-applicant) to be uploaded directly by referees before the application can be submitted, and that this will need to be completed by Tuesday 21st March.

Please contact the School Research Team 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 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.