Independent Research Fellowships in Science at Sheffield

Our programme of support for externally funded Independent Research Fellowships is designed to establish you as a research leader in an ambitious, vibrant and supportive environment.


We are an internationally leading Faculty of Science, with world-class research and facilities. Researchers work in a highly collegiate environment, shaped by an ethos of "science without boundaries".

We aspire to be a welcoming and inclusive environment for science researchers, and recognise that many researchers – especially female and BAME staff – do not receive the same support as their peers in applying for fellowships and career progression. For this reason, we are especially encouraging members of under-represented groups to apply to hold an independent research fellowship with us.

Faculty of Science policy is that all holders of five-year plus independent fellowships will be offered a permanent position, subject to performance. Support for a five year postdoctoral fellowship, such as the Wellcome Trust Early Career Award, will be considered on a case by case basis.  We are committed to supporting researchers from diverse backgrounds with clear fellowship plans at every step of their application, and beyond, as they base their career in our community.

Independent Research Fellows in Science at the University of Sheffield will benefit from the following package:

  • We offer long-term IRFs an academic position after their Fellowship
  • We support all long-term IRFs with a PhD student to kick-start their research portfolio
  • All IRFs are mentored during their application, during their fellowship and after progressing to a permanent contract
  • All IRFs join our independent College of Fellows, to give your community a strong and collective voice 

We accept informal applications all year. For enquiries, email the Faculty Research Support Team:

When making an inquiry, if possible please indicate which department / research cluster you are interested in.  

Science at Sheffield: themes and disciplines

We work better together

The academic departments in the University of Sheffield's Faculty of Science are our powerhouse for training research scientists of the future. We house key interdisciplinary institutes and centres that bring together expertise and ambition to facilitate research at all levels. We have world-class facilities that underpin our work. We are outward facing, across the University and beyond, without boundaries to ideas and interactions.

Across Science at Sheffield, we have four strategic themes, from the fundamental to translational. These are drawn from our rich history of skills and experience, framed on our critical mass of excellent research that portrays our aspirations, acting collectively, to address grand challenges.

We welcome applications from across our entire research portfolio from departments, institutes and centres. Our strengths run from the level of individuals, through collectives, to areas of real critical mass.

In particular, we are prioritising the areas of Life in a Changing EnvironmentNanomaterialsLifespan Biology and Infectious Disease (with a focus on antimicrobial resistant pathogens). But our main priority is excellence – to see if you want to join us, get in touch.

Our deal for Independent Research Fellows

We value our Independent Research Fellows as the leaders of the future, so we're making a firm commitment to them from the outset.

Progression to open ended contract

Fellows will be expected to progress to a lectureship (or higher grade), after externally awarded fellowships of greater than three years in duration. This is subject to agreement by the host Department and Faculty of Science, prior to Fellowship application(s).

Provision of PhD studentship

If an externally funded fellowship of five years or more is awarded, then the Faculty of Science will provide a PhD studentship to enhance the research portfolio of the Fellow. The studentship will be a standard 3.5 year, home fees studentship with a stipend linked to that of the Research Councils, with £1,500 RTSG per annum to support student development.


Progression to an open-ended contract will be dependent on satisfactory performance. At the start of the Fellowship the relevant Head of Department will make it clear to the IRF what is expected of them, to transition to a lectureship. The requirements are equivalent to the Academic Career Pathway requirements of the appropriate grade. There is a formal review of progress 12 months before the end of the fellowship to ensure that the individual is performing at the expected level and are on track to progress to a lectureship.


Full formal academic probation that covers both teaching and research is required for all new academic appointments at the lecturer grade. This will not normally be undertaken during the period of the fellowship to allow the individual to focus on their research outputs. However, where appropriate, support will be provided to individuals to minimise the length of probation upon progression to a lectureship.

Career progression

We have a comprehensive package of training and career progression support to help you develop optimally as part of our academic community.

Your application: Apply and contact

If you are interested in developing your career here in Sheffield we want to hear from you. We offer a staged and comprehensive mentoring approach to make sure that you are helped to make the optimal fellowship application.

Making contact

We welcome informal contact all year round and in the first instance please contact either the relevant department contact or the Faculty of Science Director of Research and Innovation.

Faculty Director of Research and Innovation
Professor Andrew Fleming

Professor Julie Gray – Director of Research and Innovation

Professor Simon Jones – Head of Department

Mathematics and Statistics
Professor Carsten van de Bruck – Director of Research and Innovation

Physics and Astronomy
Professor Paul Crowther – Head of Department
Professor Jamie Hobbs – Director of Research and Innovation

Dr Megan Freeth – Director of Research and Innovation

Towards an application

  • Stage 0: Initial Contact – IRF applicants will appear both internally and externally. For internal applicants, potential candidates their existing mentors (supervisors) will involve respective Departmental Directors of Research and Innovation at an early stage to give support and guidance. If Expressions of Interest (EoIs) come from external candidates to any academics they will be passed on as above.
  • Stage 1: Initial sift – All prospective candidates should supply a CV and outline research plan (two A4 pages maximum). EoIs will be considered by the Departmental Research Committee. Strengths and weaknesses of candidates, as well as fit to Departmental and Faculty strategies will be considered. All candidates will receive written feedback, from the respective Head of Department, with an initial go / no go decision.
  • Stage 2: Decision to support an application – All progressing, potential candidates will be invited to Sheffield to give a research seminar and meet with appropriate academics, the Departmental Director of Research and Innovation, Head of Department and current fellows. The above processes will inform the decision as to whether to proceed with each candidate. Here again, written feedback from Heads of Departments will be given to unsuccessful candidates.
  • Stage 3: Mentoring towards an application – For all candidates that are chosen for progression an academic mentor will be assigned. These are the first port of call for advice and help with moving their application(s) forward. The mentor will have sufficient knowledge of the field to be of use and be willing to take on the role. The mentor will give feedback from Stage 2 in the first instance. All applications will be read by at least two academic members of staff to provide advice and help (to be coordinated by the mentor). The mentor will also remain in that role if the application is successful.
  • Stage 4: Official commitment for the application – All applications must be completed at least three weeks before the submission date. If any equipment is being requested as part of the fellowship then this must be notified at least two months before submission.
Fellowship schemes and funders

Researchers applying for fellowships in a science department at the University of Sheffield may be suitable for one or more of the following schemes. Please note that some schemes may be closed for applications, but are expected to reopen soon.

Scheme Funder Duration (months) Deadline Maximum award (£)
Enterprise Fellowships BBSRC David Philips 60   Not specified
Discovery Fellowships BBSRC Discovery Fellowship 36

Faculty selection process - more info.

Faculty selection process deadline: Monday 16 January 2023

Faculty selection panel meeting: Tuesday 24 January 2023

BBSRC deadline: early May 2023 TBC

£300,000 (80% Fec)
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships British Academy 36   Not specified
Sponsored Fellowships Daphne Jackson Trust 24   Not specified
Regular Fellowships Daphne Jackson Trust 24   Not specified
White Rose DTP Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme Economic and Social Research Council 12 (full-time / 24 (part-time) Not specified
Postdoctoral fellowships Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 36   Not specified (typically of order of approximately £500,000)
Open Fellowships Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 60   Not specified (typically of order of approximately £1m)
Starter Grant European Research Council ≤60   €1,500,000
Consolidator Grant European Research Council ≤60   €2,000,000
Advanced Grant European Research Council ≤60   €2,500,000
Early Career Fellowships Leverhulme Trust 36 Internal competition deadline – 6 December 2022 – full details £93,000 for three years
Research Fellowships Leverhulme Trust 3–24   £55,000
Philip Leverhulme Prizes – specific subject areas Leverhulme Trust 24–36   £100,000
Research Leadership Awards Leverhulme Trust 48-60   £800,000 – £1,000,000
Fellowship for Women in Science L'Oréal-UNESCO 12   £15,000
Career Development Award (CDA): Transition to Independence Medical Research Council ≤60   Not specified
David Sainsbury Fellowship NC3Rs 36   Applicants can apply for a commensurate salary (as agreed by the host research organisation) and up to £30k per annum for other directly incurred research costs e.g. travel, consumables
Training Fellowships NC3Rs 24   Applicants can apply for a commensurate salary (as agreed by the host research organisation) and up to £15k per annum for other directly incurred research costs eg, travel, consumables
Independent Research Fellowships NERC 60 October each year Not specified
Research Fellowships in Science and Engineering Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 ≤36 7 February 2019 Value of grant would be approx £44,000 based on starting salary of £34,000 per year
Research Fellowship in the Built Environment Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 24   £50,000 per year
University Research Fellowship Royal Society 60   Approx £270,000
Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship Royal Society & Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 60   Approx £270,000
Rutherford International Fellowship Programme Science & Technology Facilities Council (through the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND scheme) 12-36   Not specified
Ernest Rutherford Fellowship STFC 60   Not specified
Early Career Award Wellcome Trust 60   Salary and research expenses up to £400,000
Career Development Award Wellcome Trust 96   Salary and research expenses
Future Leader Fellowships UK Research and Innovation 48-84 Round 8: anticipated in 2023 £1.2m for the first four years
University of Sheffield support networks
Research community: College of Fellows

Independent Research Fellows are the research leaders of the future, with a powerful voice.

College of Fellows

All IRFs become part of the Faculty of Science's College of Fellows (CoF). This is an independent body, headed by a current IRF. It allows IRFs to discuss all matters and act collectively through regular meetings, where experiences can be shared and new collaborations can be forged. The College of Fellows meets formally with the Faculty Director of Research and Innovation to discuss concerns or requests.

Fellowship stories

We asked researchers in the Faculty of Science share their experiences of their independent research fellowships.

Dr Rebecca Corrigan

Royal Society and Wellcome Trust

Dr Rebecca Corrigan was awarded a Royal Society and Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Research Fellowship. She is a molecular microbiologist in the School of Biosciences and the Florey Institute, and is interested in the study of the cell-signalling and virulence mechanisms of the Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus.

She said: "What attracted me to Sheffield is the remarkable mixture of biochemists, microbiologists, structural biologists, all working together in my department. This makes collaborations incredibly easy and so conducive to multidisciplinary research. The unique approach of the Florey Institute, which combines clinicians and researchers under one umbrella, was just the icing on the cake."

Visit Dr Rebecca Corrigan's profile

Dr Megan Freeth

Economic and Social Research Council
Leverhulme Trust

Dr Megan Freeth completed an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the School of Psychology at the University Sheffield. She came to Sheffield to establish new research collaborations, develop her eye-tracking research and learn to conduct electroencephalography (EEG) research under the guidance of Dr Elizabeth Milne.

During her fellowships Megan furthered understanding of the real world social attention processes in autism, investigated the role that autistic and social anxiety traits play in social attention mechanisms and also investigated the neural basis of attention. Following her fellowships Megan moved on to a permanent lectureship in the School of Psychology.

Visit Dr Megan Freeth's profile

Fellowship Events

Find out about our upcoming events here:

Biology Fellowship Workshop

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.