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ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) Scheme Competition 2020/21

We are currently making preparations to launch our 2020/21 Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme Competition. Please check back in November 2020 for more information. You can also sign up for our Newsletter, register for GradHub, or follow us on Twitter to be kept up to date with all of our competition launches and dates.

If you have been nominated at Stage 1 please submit your stage 2 application by 4pm on 23 march

Six Postdoctoral Fellowships are available from the SGSSS-DTP to start in October 2020. All Fellows are required to have a mentor based at the institution where the Fellowship is held. The mentor should have experience and a strong interest in the applicant’s field of research but should not normally be the applicant’s PhD supervisor. We anticipate that many applicants will identify potential mentors independently, or with advice from previous supervisors/academic contacts. However, should candidates need assistance in identifying a suitable mentor, they should get in touch with your relevant HEI Champion or alternatively contact SGSSS directly.

Applicants to Scottish institutions should note that the SGSSS-DTP has a two stage application process (see below for full details). Only applicants successful at Stage 1 will be invited to submit a full application at Stage 2:

  • Stage 1 Application Deadline is 14 January 2020
  • Stage 2 Application Deadline is 4pm on 23 March 2020

Industry Strategy Alignment

At least two of the Fellowships awarded MUST be aligned with the industrial strategy. In order to align with the industrial strategy, your Fellowship should seek to address skills gaps in advanced quantitative methods and data skills/science, and/or follow a programme of activities that involves direct engagement with partners in business or industry (for example, a placement opportunity or the development of a collaboration research project). Please see the guidance for further information.


This opportunity is open to applicants who have completed their PhD at an institution that is part of a DTP or CDT and must be held at an institution that is part of a DTP or CDT eligible to participate in this initiative and aligned to an accredited pathway.

Applicants are not required to have previously held an ESRC-funded studentship in order to be eligible to apply.

To be eligible applicants must:

  • Have been awarded a PhD or have passed their viva voce with minor amendments by the application deadline of 23 March 2020 and have been awarded their PhD by the fellowship start date of 1 October 2020
  • Have no more than 12 months active postdoctoral experience since passing their viva voce (allowing for career breaks) by 23 March 2020 
  • Permanent members of staff in an academic position with a research component are not eligible for this scheme. If a candidate has previously been employed on a part-time basis, that employment can be calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Please see the ESRC PDF Call Specification and Frequently Asked Questions documents that support this call for further information on eligibility.

This call welcomes proposals from those returning to research following a career break. Applicants are, however, required to meet the eligibility criterion of having no more than 12 months of active postdoctoral experience.

  • The deadline for Stage 2 applications is 4pm on 23 March 2020

Contact your Mentor

Candidate: Before submitting your Stage 1 application, you must first seek out a Mentor at the HEI you are applying to. If you do not have a Mentor in mind, click here for a list of HEI champions who will be able to point you in the right direction. 

Mentor: Must check the Eligibility of the candidate and then support them to produce the Stage 1 application, as well as provide a one-page statement of support for the candidate to upload alongside their application.

Stage 1 Application

  • Download the Stage 1 Application form
  • Fill in the form with support from your Mentor
  • Register with GradHub
  • Submit your Stage 1 Application to SGSSS by 14 January 2020
  • Including your separate one-page statement of support from your mentor

Initial Candidate Selection

HEIs will review all Stage 1 applications internally. Candidates and their mentors will be notified of their application status by the end of February 2020. Successful candidates will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2 Application

All stage two applicants are required to contact their mentors as soon as possible for support in preparing their submission. For additional support please contact your relevant HEI champion or SGSSS.

  • Download the Stage 2 Application form
  • Fill in the form with support from your Mentor
  • Submit your Stage 2 Application to SGSSS by 4pm on 23 March 2020

Final Candidate Selection

SGSSS will review all applications internally. Candidates will be notified of their application status by June 2020. Feedback will be provided for all Stage 2 applicants.


HEIs will appoint PDFs and work with SGSSS to ensure proper induction, mentoring, and support.