The Constitution Unit


Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships 2023/24

10 August 2022

The Constitution Unit is now welcoming applications for the 2023/24 Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships scheme.

Leverhulme Trust logo

Please note that the deadline for submitting your proposal to the Leverhulme Trust is 23 February 2023, however there is an internal Department selection process with a deadline of 26 September 2022. You will need to contact your potential supervisor by 5 September 2022.

The Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships aim to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, but who have a proven record of research. The expectation is that Fellows should undertake a significant piece of publishable work during their tenure and that the Fellowships should lead to a more permanent academic position. The Trust will contribute to the Fellow’s total salary costs and annual research expenses of up to £6,000.

Fellowships are expected to last for three years on a full-time basis and should commence between 1 September 2023 and 1 May 2024.

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 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 Brexitand 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.

  1. 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 progress to the Department application stage. Your proposed mentor will be able to provide feedback on this if it is received by 5 September.

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 a successful viva within four years (i.e. viva between 23 Feb 2019 and 23 Feb 2023). The Trust will exceptionally extend the window of eligibility from the normal four years by an additional year (i.e. viva between 23 Feb 2018 and 23 Feb 2019) for applicants who can make a case that their work has been impacted by the pandemic. Such cases should be made within the application.

  1. Second, you apply to the Department.

Deadline: 26 September 2022, 9 am

UCL usually requires candidates to complete the online Leverhulme application form for this call. However, please note that the online system is not yet open, therefore, in the meantime, candidates can use the application template in word format .

  1. Thirdly, the Department of Political Science/School of Public Policy will choose 3 candidates to forward to the Faculty selection process. The selected candidates will need to request a formal letter of support from their mentors before we submit their applications to Faculty (template will be circulated). Referee statements are not required at this stage, however, please note that Faculty is expecting a budget draft for the research costs (£6K/year). 

Deadline: 17 November 2022 with the outcome expected by 15 December 2022.


Key eligibility criteria to keep in mind:

  • Applicants must not yet have held a full-time permanent academic post in a UK university or comparable UK institution, nor may Fellows hold such a post concurrently with the Early Career Fellowship. The Trust will consider applications from candidates whose permanent post does not include any research. Those in receipt of a stipendiary Fellowship may not hold this at the same time as an Early Career Fellowship. Applicants who have existing funding in place for a duration equivalent to or greater than the duration of the Early Career Fellowship should not apply.
  • All candidates must hold a doctorate or have equivalent research experience by the time they take up the Fellowship. Those who are or have been registered for a doctorate at any time may apply only if they have submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination by the closing date of 4pm on 23 February 2023. Those who at the time of commencing the Fellowship are registered for or are intending to register for degrees, professional or vocational qualifications are not eligible.
  • Applications are invited from those with a doctorate who submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination not more than four years prior to the application closing date. Hence those who formally submitted their doctoral thesis for viva voce examination before 23 February 2019 are not eligible unless they have since had a career break or can prove they have been affected by the pandemic (see above). Those wishing to make a case for a career break should present the case for interruption by a period of maternity leave, family commitments, illness, or other exceptional circumstances. Please note that time spent working outside academia does not qualify as a career break.
  • Applicants must either hold a degree (any degree) from a UK higher education institution at the time of taking up the Fellowship or at the time of the application deadline must hold an academic position in the UK (e.g. fixed-term lectureship, fellowship) which commenced no less than 4 months prior to the closing date. Hence, those who do not hold a UK degree and whose UK academic position commenced after October 2022 are not eligible. The Trust will consider candidates without a UK degree whose UK academic post commenced after October 2022 if they have been in continuous UK academic employment for more than 4 months prior to the deadline. The intention is to support the career development of those building an academic career within the UK.
  • Candidates who have been, or are currently a Principal Investigator on a three-year postdoctoral research project, or have held or currently hold a comparable three-year postdoctoral position to pursue their own research are not eligible to apply.
  • The Research Awards Advisory Committee believes that the development of an academic career is best served by gaining experience at different institutions. Applicants who have not already moved institutions in the course of their academic career (i.e. between their undergraduate university and proposed host institution) should nominate a new host institution, or otherwise demonstrate clear evidence of the academic and/or personal reasons for remaining at the same institution, such as access to highly specialist equipment or a highly specialised research team.
  • A candidate may submit only one application per year. Previously unsuccessful applicants may reapply.

Key documents