ESRC postdoctoral fellowships and how to apply

*The SWDTP will be holding an information event on the PDF competition and application process at 2 pm on 11 January online. You can register your attendance by filling in the form here.*

Shelves of BookesThe ESRC invites applications for postdoctoral fellowships (PDF) to be based at the SWDTP institutions of University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Exeter, Plymouth University and University of West of England.

Fellowships are aimed at providing a development opportunity for those in the immediate postdoctoral stage of their career, to provide the opportunity to consolidate their PhD through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills.

The PDF call forms part of ESRC’s strategy to support early career researchers and will be delivered through the national network of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).

The call is open to applicants who have completed their PhD at a research organisation that is part of a DTP or CDT and aligned to an accredited pathway:

To be eligible applicants must:

  • Have been awarded a PhD or have passed their viva voce with minor amendments by the application deadline of 23rd March 2022 and have been awarded their PhD by the fellowship start date of 1st October 2022.
  • Have no more than 12 months active postdoctoral experience since passing their viva voce (allowing for career breaks) by 23rd March 2022.  The period of active post-doctoral experience should be calculated from the viva voce being passed to the closing date of 23rd March 2022.

Please see the Call Specification and Frequently Asked Questions documents (links below) that support this call for further information on eligibility.

Postdoctoral Fellowships operate under ESRC Research Funding rules and therefore applicants can come from anywhere in the world and, subject to meeting the scheme eligibility criteria, can be considered for these awards.

Key documents relating to the call and application can be found below

ESRC PDF call specification 2022 entry (download)

ESRC PDF FAQs for 2022 entry (download)

PDF application form for 2022 entry (download)

All applicants must submit a completed proposal along with the required attachments by 16.00 on 23rd March 2022 to the SWDTP at

Applicants are also asked to submit an Equal Opportunity PDF Data Form separately to the application to  Note: this is held confidentially and collected for statistical reporting to the ESRC only.

The SWDTP will peer review the proposals and make funding decisions on behalf of ESRC by 25th June 2022.

For queries related to the call, please e-mail

Further information from the ESRC regarding early career researchers can be found here


Application & Institution Specific Guidance


University of Bath Logo

Deadline for expressions of interest (EOI) to Bath | 1 February 2022 | 16:00 

  • Proposals are welcome from both single disciplines and combinations of disciplines but the fellowship activities must be based at least 50% within the social sciences.
  • Please email an expression of interest (EOI) – to include a short paragraph with the basic premise of the work and to identify the pathway and potential mentor – to Prof Sean Cumming, to whom all queries may also be sent.
  • The EOI stage will help us to identify all potential applicants and ensure that the correct support is put in place to help candidates and departments to develop a full application.


University of Bristol Logo

Support for PDF bids submitted through University of Bristol

  • Due to the anticipated volume of interest in this call, it is envisaged that respective UoB Schools and mentors (which are mandatory for all ESRC PDFs) will provide most of the detailed bid support for applicants submitting through Bristol
  • The Research Development Associates in RED (Vicky Jackson/Laura Lyddon) can also provide support for bids, where they have capacity to do so 
  • All bids will require a WorkTribe costing; bidders are therefore advised to contact the relevant costing specialist in the finance team in good time for assistance with budget preparation; your mentor can advise you on who to contact from the finance team