The Constitution Unit


Call for Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship Applications 2021/2022

13 August 2020

The Constitution Unit would like to encourage applications to the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship scheme. 

Leverhulme Trust logo

The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships provide career development opportunities for researchers with a proven record of research. The Fellowships are intended to assist those at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, and it is hoped that the appointment would lead to a more permanent position for the individual, either within the same or another institution. The objective is for Fellows to undertake a significant piece of publishable research during the tenure of the award, and the project put forward should therefore not be a reworking or a mere extension of the candidate’s doctoral research project.

Duration and expenses

The awards are for 36 months and not renewable. The fellowship must start between 1 September 2021 and 1 May 2022. The Trust will support requests to hold the award part-time over a proportionately longer period for reasons related to health, disability or childcare commitments. Those holding the Fellowship part-time may not undertake any other employment within a UK higher education institution during the period of the award.

Fellowship holders are entitled to up to £6,000 a year for research expenses. Please see the Leverhulme Trust website for more information on what this covers.

Areas of research

Potential candidates should identify an academic who would support their application and agree to act as a mentor. The Constitution Unit Director and Deputy Director welcome approaches in the research areas indicated below (candidates are encouraged to explore their webpages for more detailed indications of their own previous research):

Professor Meg Russell

Professor Russell is Director of the Constitution Unit. She welcomes applicants wishing to conduct research in areas including British and comparative politics, in particular parliaments and legislatures (organisation, policy impact, member behaviour, bicameralism, reform), political party organisation, and constitutions and constitutional reform.

Dr Alan Renwick

Dr Renwick is Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit. He welcomes applicants wishing to conduct research in areas including electoral systems, electoral reform, referendumsdeliberative democratic institutions, democratic reforms and innovations, and constitutions and constitutional reform.

Researching at the Constitution Unit

The Constitution Unit is a politically neutral research centre based at University College London. We have over 25 years’ experience producing rigorous, timely and independent research on British political institutions, and have a close working relationship with policymakers, including representatives of all political parties. Our work has been influential in shaping various reforms.

In the last couple of years we have run major research projects such as the Citizens’ Assembly on BrexitOptions for an English Parliament, the Independent Commission on Referendums, and Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit, as well as projects on improving information and discourse in election and referendum campaigns in the UK and the impact of the UK parliament on government legislation. Current research projects include Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution and the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland.

The Constitution Unit is housed in the Department of Political Science at UCL. The Department's status as one of Britain's leading centres for research in Political Science was confirmed by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise. The School acts as the bridge between UCL's world-class research and the policy-making community in Britain and internationally. We have weekly seminars featuring distinguished external speakers and hold regular high-profile events for policy makers and others. Other potential mentors covering a broader range of political science topics are available in the Department – for details of other academic staff see here.

Application guidelines & eligibility

Applying is a multi-stage process.

First, you must find a prospective mentor who is willing in principle to support your application, and who can give feedback on a draft.

Deadline: Please contact your preferred mentor as soon as possible, briefly indicating your project topic and broad proposed approach, and providing details of your previous qualifications (with grades) and any relevant publications. If your proposed mentor indicates support in principle for your project, you should then complete a full outline (see below). Your proposed mentor will be able to provide feedback on this if it is received by 1 October.

The Leverhulme Trust has a range of eligibility criteria, which can be seen on their website.  You should check whether you are eligible to apply before contacting your potential mentor – and confirm to them that you have done so. To be eligible, candidates must have had (or expect to have) a successful PhD viva between 25 February 2017 and 25 February 2021, with some allowances for career breaks.

Second, you apply to the Department. You are required to complete the online Leverhulme application form for this call, which means firstly creating a profile via the Leverhulme website. Until the online application form is open you can request from us a Word document of the application. You must then submit a pdf of your Leverhulme Trust online application to the Department by 22 October 2020.

Third, if you are successful at the Department level you will be invited to submit your application to the Faculty for consideration by 19 November 2020.

Finally, if successful at the Faculty level you will be invited to submit your proposal to the Leverhulme Trust by 25 February 2021.

If you are invited by your proposed mentor to submit a draft proposal, this should include the following. Please take a look at the Leverhulme Trust guidelines for more details.

  • Research Proposal Title (maximum 80 characters including spaces)
  • Abstract: Summarise your proposed research for an informed general audience (maximum 100 words)
  • Details of current and past research (maximum 250 words)
  • Detailed statement of proposed research (Including the bibliographic references this may not exceed two sides of A4 and should be Arial font size 10 or 11.)
  • List of major publications (not to exceed 1 side of A4)
  • Reason(s) for choice of host institution (split over 2 sections, maximum 200 words)
  • Indication of how you would spend the annual research allowance of £6,000 for each year of the Fellowship.

We are also taking applications to the British Academy Fellowship. You can find out more here.