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The Constitution Unit welcomes British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship applications 2024/25

1 May 2024

The Constitution Unit is welcoming applicants to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme for September 2025 entry, with an internal deadline of 10 June 2024.

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Please note that the deadline to submitting your outline application to the British Academy will be in October 2024. The Department of Political Science’s deadline for applications is 24 June 2024, which means that you will need to contact your potential mentor at the Constitution Unit by 10 June 2024.

The British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme offers outstanding early career researchers the opportunity to strengthen their experience of research in a university environment. This scheme aims to help develop the award holder’s curriculum vitae and boost their prospects of obtaining a permanent academic post. The primary emphasis is on the completion of a significant piece of publishable research and the integration of the award holder into the community of established scholars within their field.

The fellowship is tenable for three years, starting, at the earliest, on 1 September 2025. It is non-renewable.

The British Academy currently funds 80% of salary costs, with the balance paid by UCL. Research expenses are covered at 100% within the upper limit, which is set at £6,000 over the three years.


Potential mentors

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

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

Professor Renwick is the Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit and Professor of Democratic Politics at UCL. He welcomes applicants wishing to conduct research in areas including electoral systems, electoral reform, referendums, deliberative democratic institutions, democratic reforms and innovations and constitutions and constitutional reform.

Dr Fleming is Lecturer in British and Comparative Politics at UCL and part of the senior team at the Constitution Unit. He welcomes applicants wishing to conduct research projects relating to parliamentary politics (either comparative or UK-focused).


Researching at the Constitution Unit

Completing a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Constitution Unit will allow the applicant to also become part of a leading research centre on political and constitutional reform.

The Constitution Unit is a politically independent research centre based in the Department of Political Science at UCL, with a sharply practical focus. Founded in 1995 to conduct detailed research on constitutional reform in the UK, the Unit continues to produce rigorous, timely and independent research and has close working relationships with policymakers, including representatives of all political parties. Its work has had a significant real-world impact over the past 25 years.

Our current major projects include Constitutional Principles and the Health of Democracy (led by Professor Russell), Democracy in the UK after Brexit (led by Professor Renwick) and The Politics of Parliamentary Procedure (led by Dr Fleming), as well as ongoing research into The Changing Role of the House of Lords (also led by Professor Russell).

Our previous projects include: Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution, the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland, Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit, Doing Democracy Better, the Independent Commission on Referendums, the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit and An Elaborate Rubber Stamp? The Impact of Parliament on Legislation.

We are part of 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 department acts as the bridge between UCL's world-class research and the policy-making community in Britain and internationally. It holds weekly seminars featuring distinguished external speakers and regular high-profile events for policy makers and others. Other potential mentors covering a broader range of political science topics are also available in the department.

In 2018/19, Dr Rebecca McKee was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Constitution Unit, mentored by Professor Russell. Her research focused on representation and diversity in parliament, including a survey of MPs’ staff. Dr McKee is now a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Government.


Application process

Applying is a multi-stage process.

Stage 1: Identify a mentor at the Constitution Unit (deadline: 10 June 2024)

First, you must find a prospective mentor who is willing in principle to support your application and who can give feedback on a draft proposal. At the Constitution Unit, this would be Professor Russell, Professor Renwick or Dr Fleming.

Please contact your preferred mentor directly as soon as possible, briefly indicating your project topic, broad proposed approach, details of your previous qualifications (with grades) and any relevant publications.

The British Academy has a range of eligibility criteria, which can be found on their website. Most notably, applicants must have successfully completed their PhD viva between 1 April 2022 and 1 April 2025.

Stage 2: Apply to the Department of Political Science (deadline: 24 June 2024)

If your proposed mentor indicates support in principle for your project, you should then apply to the Department of Political Science. Please see the full departmental note for more information about how to do this.

At this stage, questions should be directed to the Department of Political Science’s Research Manager, Monica Burgess.

The Faculties of Arts and Humanities and Social and Historical Sciences (SLASH) are hosting an online briefing for those considering applying to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCL, as well as for those currently at UCL thinking of applying elsewhere on 11 June 2024 between 11am and 12pm. The briefing will present an overview of the funding scheme and application process, as well as tips for writing a successful application. A current British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow will also share their advice and experience of applying.

Stage 3: Submit an outline application to the British Academy (deadline: October 2024)

If the Department of Political Science approves your application, you will then need to apply to the British Academy directly, first in outline.

The call for applications will formally be announced in July 2024, but guidelines are unlikely to fundamentally change from previous years.

Stage 4: Submit a full application to the British Academy (expected deadline: February 2025)

Successful applicants in outline will be invited to complete a full application to the British Academy, with an expected deadline of February 2025.


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