ECH Grants: Post-doctoral projects

1 October 2014

For post-doctoral projects: Very few historians gain permanent academic employment immediately upon completion of the PhD degree.  Most historians who succeed in gaining such posts experience one or more years of part-time or fixed-contract teaching, or serving as a research assistant on a senior academic’s grant, while they build a publication profile.  Gaining an external postdoctoral fellowship in your own name during this period will allow you to focus on publishing your doctoral research, and crafting a new postdoctoral research programme.  In the UK, postdoctoral fellowships are often advertised in ( ). But you should also keep an eye on the Tuesday edition of the Guardian newspaper:
H-Net and the TLS.
Most postdoctoral schemes advertise with only one application deadline per year.  If you start investigating possibilities a year before your PhD viva, you will know well in advance which deadlines you will be eligible to apply for, based on your viva date.

  • British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships: This highly competitive fellowship scheme is open to UK or EEA nationals and persons who have completed a PhD in the UK, within 3 years of completion of the doctorate. An outline application is made in the autumn; short-listed candidates complete a more detailed application in the New Year.  The scheme funds up to 3 years of postdoctoral research.  In preparing your application, it is essential to liaise carefully and well in advance with the proposed host institution and supervisor, which must support your application:
  • European Research Council Starting Grants: These grants are designed for researchers with 2-7 years of postdoctoral experience. If planning to apply for an ERC award, make use of any and all training events organised by your home institution as ERC applications are quite bureaucratic:
  • Economic & Social Research Council: Historians of any nationality with a social science emphasis are eligible to apply for ESRC Future Research Leaders postdocs within 4 years of submission of the PhD. It is essential to liaise well in advance with your proposed host institution, which must demonstrate a robust programme of support for your research.  The application deadline for this scheme is normally in the autumn.  See:
  • European University Institute: The EUI, based in Florence, offers a number of residential postdoctoral fellowships for ECRs. Details are available from:
  • Fulbright: The US Fulbright Commission offers a postdoctoral fellowships, which can be held at US universities. If applying for a Fulbright, give serious thought to applying outside the US equivalent of the ‘Golden Triangle’—that is, the north-east coast, Chicago and California.  The scheme is designed to send Fulbright postdocs throughout the US.  By applying to be based at an appropriate university outside these areas you may enhance your chances of success.  For application details, see:
  • Humanities Centres & Institutes of Advanced Study: Both within and outside the UK, these specialist research institutes often offer residential postdoctoral fellowships that typically range for 3-24 months and provide some combination of office space, library access, research funding, salary or stipend and/or housing.  Examples include:  Central European University IAS, Budapest CRASSH, Cambridge University: ; IASH, Edinburgh University: ;  Simon Fellowships, Manchester University: ;  and Warwick IAS:
  • Institute of Historical Research, London: The IHR serves as the umbrella organisation for a number of postdoctoral fellowships funded by UK scholarly societies and charities, including the RHS, the Economic History Society and the Past & Present Society. Applications are typically accepted from January to c. March each year.  See
  • Junior Research Fellowships: JRFs, typically of 3 years’ duration, are advertised each year by several Cambridge and Oxford colleges, and occasionally by other UK universities.  Some JRFs are open to postdoctoral researchers in any field of study; others specify history as an eligible or desired field of appointment.  For Cambridge JRFs see: ; for Oxford advertisements, see the Oxford Gazette
  • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships: ECRs with a recent UK PhD or a fixed-term (not permanent) UK academic appointment are eligible for this scheme, which funds 3-year postdoctoral fellowships with limited teaching duties. Because the host institution must share at least 50% of the cost of the fellowship with the Leverhulme Trust, not all universities support applications.  Investigate whether your preferred institution supports application in the autumn, to ensure that you can locate a host institution well in advance of the February application deadline.  (Many institutions have internal deadlines for this scheme that are significantly earlier than the Leverhulme’s deadline).  Note that you cannot apply to hold this award at the institution from which you obtained your PhD.  For details, see
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowships: These European Commission awards fund 2-3 year postdoctoral fellowships with generous funding for relocation, research costs and salary. The scheme’s emphasis is on mobility, so expect to hold the award if successful in a country other than the country of your PhD.  Advance planning and communication with your proposed host institution is essential.  The UK Research Office offers helpful workshops about these applications annually at various locations in the UK, and many universities also offer specialist guidance on applications, which are highly competitive.
    For details of the scheme, see
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships: The US Mellon Foundation funds a number of humanities-based postdoctoral fellowships which combine teaching and research. Most are based in the US or Canada, but a few UK institutions also offer Mellon postdocs.  A good source of information on individual Mellon fellowships is: ;
  • Specialist Libraries: Several of the specialist libraries noted above under ‘Research Trips’ also offer 3-24 month residential fellowships for national and/or international postdoctoral research fellows. See their websites for details and deadlines.
  • Wellcome Fellowships: The Wellcome Trust funds a number of multi-year postdoctoral fellowships each year in the medical humanities (including history of medicine and history of science).
    For details see: .