ESRC postdoctoral fellowships and how to apply


** Please note: applications for 2021 entry are now closed.**

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 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 SWDTP has seven fellowships to award in this round.

The call is open to applicants who have completed their PhD at a research organisation that is part of a DTP or CDT and who are within 12 months of completing their PhD.  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 2021 and have been awarded their PhD by the fellowship start date of 1st October 2021.
  • have no more than 12 months active postdoctoral experience since passing their viva voce (allowing for career breaks) by 23rd March 2021.  The period of active post doctoral experience should be calculated from the viva voce being passed to the closing date of 23rd March 2021.

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 2021 entry (download)

ESRC PDF FAQs for 2021 entry (download)

PDF application form for 2021 entry (download)

All applicants must submit a completed proposal along with the required attachments by 16.00 on 23rd March 2021 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 2021.

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 BannerBath applications: All potential applicants to the University of Bath are asked to submit 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 – by email to Dr Sean Cumming – – by no later than Monday 1st February 2021. This 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 Exeter Logo Banner

The University of Exeter will be running an internal sift process to limit the number of applicants, with the aim of limiting this to one/two per discipline. The deadline for the internal sift applications will be as below and we will be asking applicant to complete the Internal Sift form (download), CV and list of publications.

Deadline for Internal Application: 12th February 2021 (12 noon)

Internal results back to applicants: 23rd February 2021

Submission to funding council via the SWDTP: 23rd March 2021

Candidates should return the Internal Sift form alongside a CV and list of publications to their department’s DoR, copying in by 12th February 2021 (12 noon) with the e-mail heading ‘ESRC PDF Internal Sift’.

University of Exeter internal sift application form