The Royal Society – University Research Fellowship

Deadline: 6 September 2022
Open to: outstanding scientists who are in the early stages of their research career
Benefits: research salary and other benefits


This fellowship is for outstanding scientists who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. These long term fellowships provide the opportunity and freedom to build an independent research career in the UK or Republic of Ireland and pursue cutting-edge scientific research.

Until this point, the University Research Fellowship (URF) has been a five year fellowship, with the option to apply for a three year extension. From the current round onwards, applicants will have the opportunity to submit a research proposal and costs for an eight-year fellowship. Costs for years six to eight will be subject to satisfactory progress and completion of a mid-fellowship checkpoint review at the start of year four. In addition to the change regarding the duration of the fellowships, the award value has also been updated with respect to previous rounds. From now on researchers can apply for up to £90,000 research expenses per annum to support the research programme proposed in their application.

These changes have been introduced to increase the stability of funding available to URFs, support them to develop their research group and give them the opportunity to focus on their research aims with a reduced administrative workload.

The scheme offers you:

  • the opportunity to build an independent research career
  • freedom, time and long term flexible support to pursue high-quality and innovative lines of scientific research
  • support to develop as a research leader by offering tailored, high-quality professional development, networking and engagement opportunities
  • flexibility to accommodate personal circumstances such as caring responsibilities or health related needs

This scheme is highly flexible to accommodate for part-time working, sabbaticals and secondments. There is also provision for maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave (PDF).


Research must be within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes but is not limited to biological research and biomedical sciences, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. For a full list, please see the breakdown of subject groups and areas supported by the Royal Society.

Those applying from Ireland (ROI) are funded by Science Foundation Ireland and will need to read the eligibility requirements in the specific scheme notes.

You can apply for this scheme if you:

  • have between three to eight years of research experience since your PhD by the closing date of the round. Career breaks are taken into account; please refer to the scheme notes for further detail
  • do not hold a permanent post (including proleptic or rolling contract of employment) in a university or not for profit research organisation
  • do not hold, or have not previously held, an equivalent fellowship that provides an opportunity to establish an independent research group and therefore independent researcher status

For further information about how to apply, read the FAQs (PDF).


From the round opening in July 2022, appointments will be made for an eight-year period, but confirmation of funding for years 6 to 8 will be subject to completion of a satisfactory mid-fellowship checkpoint review at the start of year four.

The scheme provides:

  • Research Fellow’s salary: 80% of the basic salary costs up to £41,675 in the first year, estates costs and indirect costs
  • Contribution to research expenses of £90,000 per annum

Read the scheme notes for full value of award information.

University Research Fellows have the opportunity to access a range of training programmes covering topics including leadership, science communication and public engagement. Furthermore, opportunities arise throughout the year for University Research Fellows to meet with other award holders and participate in activities coordinated by the science policy, public engagement, schools outreach and industry engagement teams at the Society.

How to apply?

Applications should be submitted through the Society’s grant management system Flexi-Grant.

Your application will go through the process detailed on the Making a grant application page overseen by one of our five research appointment panels based on your research area.

  • Ai: Astronomy, cosmology, physics, earth sciences, environmental physical sciences & geosciences
  • Aii: Chemistry and engineering
  • Aiii: Pure and applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, communications and computer engineering; the mathematical aspects of astronomy, physics, cosmology, gravitation, theoretical physics
  • Bi: Molecular and cellular biology, zoology, plant sciences and physiology
  • Bii: Biomedical Sciences

For more information please visit the official website.