The Constitution Unit


Call for British Academy postdoctoral fellowships 2023/24

9 August 2022

The Constitution Unit is now welcoming applicants for the 2023/24 would like to encourage applications to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme.

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Please note that the deadline for submitting your proposal to the British Academy is 12 October 2022, and you will need to contact your potential supervisor by 22 August 2022.

The British Academy scheme provides funding for outstanding early career researchers recently in receipt of a PhD (see criteria below), covering the costs of a 36-month fellowship with the purpose of enabling the award holder to pursue an independent research project. This scheme aims to help develop the candidate’s CV and boost their prospects of obtaining a permanent university post. The main emphasis is on the completion of a significant piece of publishable research, and the candidate’s integration into the community of established scholars within their field.

The Fellowship is available for three years, starting at the earliest on 1 September 2023 and is non-renewable. The funding covers salary costs for three years (Currently, the Academy funds 80% of salary costs, with the balance paid by UCL) and provides £6,000 towards research expenses in total.

The application will be in two stages: the Outline Stage (12 Oct 2022), open for everyone within the eligibility criteria, and the Second Stage, by invitation only (expected deadline Feb 2023). 

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.

In 2018/2019 Dr Rebecca McKee was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Constitution Unit, mentored by Professor Meg Russell. She is researching representation and diversity in parliament, including a survey of MPs’ staff. Read about Dr McKee's project.

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 few years we have run major research projects such as the Independent Commission on ReferendumsMechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit, the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit, and the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland 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 Democracy in the UK after Brexit.

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 2021 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.

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 publicationsIf 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 22 August.

The British Academy has a range of eligibility criteria, which can be seen on their websiteYou 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 1 April 2020 and 1 April 2023.

Second, you apply to the Department.

Deadline: 1 September 2022, 9am

Third, you submit an outline application to the British Academy

Deadline: 12 October 2022, 5pm

Finally, if invited by the BA, you make a full application in early 2023.

Main points on eligibility:

  • Applicants must be supported by the UK host institution in which they wish to hold the Fellowship
  • There is no age criterion. Instead, applicants must be within 3 years of the award of a doctorate (i.e. with a viva between 1st April 2020 to 1st April 2023) 
  • Applicants may only apply once in the 3 years they are eligible. 
  • Applicants must already be of postdoctoral status at the time when the Research Awards Committee meets. Applicants who expect to have had their viva by 1 April 2023, are eligible for consideration, but will have to withdraw their application if the examination is not completed on time.
  • Those with a permanent academic post are ineligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be either a UK/EEA national or have completed a doctorate at a UK university. 

Please see the scheme guidance notes for further information on eligibility and the application process.

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