The Ernest Rutherford Fellowships will enable early career researchers with clear leadership potential to establish a strong, independent research programme. They will encourage talented researchers in UK universities to remain in the country and at the same time attract outstanding overseas researchers to the UK.
Ernest Rutherford Fellowships are intended for early career researchers who do not have an academic position.
Applicants who have applied for the - UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships can also apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship but cannot hold two fellowships which fund their working time simultaneously.
Applicants who apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship in the 2020/21 round cannot apply for a Stephen Hawking Fellowship Round 2.
Each Fellowship will last for five years, with 10 being offered in the 2020/21 round. The aim is to support future scientific leaders to establish a strong, independent research programme.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has published its Statement of Expectations for Fellows, which sets out common principles for all Research Council-funded fellows.
An analysis of Fellows who have completed their Fellowship since 2009, disclosed all Fellows were employed and 92% held permanent jobs. Further details showing the key benefits of a Fellowship can be found in analysis of questionnaires.
STFC currently supports a number of Ernest Rutherford Fellows undertaking a range of research within STFC core science areas.
Ernest Rutherford Fellowships years of Post-Doctoral experience - applicants
|0 to 3yrs||4 to 6yrs||7 to 9yrs||10yrs +||per call|
Ernest Rutherford Fellowships years of Post Doc experience - awarded
|1 to 3yrs||4 to 6yrs||7 to 9yrs||10yrs +||per call|
Call opens: 1 July 2020
Call closes: 16:00 hrs 17 September 2020
Departments have been informed of their fellowship limits for 2020. You are advised to contact your proposed host department as early as possible and certainly well ahead of the deadline for submission of applications. Departments may have internal processes to select which candidates to support and the timetables for these vary.
Applicants should read the competency framework in Annex 1 of the ERF guidance to determine the skills, knowledge and experience needed to apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship. Applications are encouraged from those seeking to resume a research career, following a period of absence from active research. Please read the ERF guidance for further information.
STFC will reject a proposal if any of the documents submitted breaches the rules on page limits, font size, font type and margins. Proposals that are in breach of the application rules will not be returned for amendment. The only exception would be where a problem occurred because of issues in downloading the proposal into Research Council systems.
All documents must be submitted as pdf attachments and must abide by the page limits and the restrictions on font size and margins (described in STFC Requirements). More details can be found in the ERF guidance under How to Apply.
STFC is offering up to 10 Ernest Rutherford Fellowships which provide five years of funding to outstanding researchers at an early stage of their career. The aim is to support future scientific leaders to establish a strong, independent research programme.
Ernest Rutherford Fellowships are intended for early career researchers who do not have a permanent academic position. You are not eligible if you currently hold a permanent academic position or the equivalent in institutions other than universities.
Applicants should hold a PhD at the time of applying for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.
If you secure a permanent position prior to the offer of a Fellowship you will be ineligible to hold the Fellowship.
Applicants should not be in receipt of duplicate funding for the same or similar proposal from more than one funding agency. Details of similar proposals that have been submitted to other funding agencies must be added in the ‘Other Support’ section of the STFC application and advise STFC if a successful funding decision is made by the other funding agency.
Applicants who have applied for the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships can also apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship but cannot hold two fellowships which fund their working time simultaneously.
Applicants who have a live application for the UK Research and Innovation Stephen Hawking Fellowships cannot apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.
STFC no longer defines eligibility for Ernest Rutherford fellowships in terms of a minimum number of years of experience. Instead, applicants should read the competency profile in Annex 1 to determine if you have the skills, knowledge and experience to apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.
Fellowships are open to applicants of any nationality. Where applicable, you will need to comply with Department of Employment requirements and hold a work permit prior to taking up the Fellowship. Work permits are a matter for direct negotiation between the institution, the Department of Employment and the Home Office.
Information for Non-European Economic Area Applicants - All successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Global Talent visa route.
In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts and enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK.
The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa. UKRI is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Global Talent visa.
Applications are welcome from candidates who intend to use the Fellowship as a means of re‐establishing themselves in the United Kingdom following a period overseas.
Fellowships may be held at any eligible UK research organisation as set out in the STFC Research Grants Handbook.
You are advised to contact your proposed host department as early as possible and certainly well ahead of the deadline for submission of applications. Departments may have internal processes to select which candidates to support and the deadlines for these may be several weeks in advance of the STFC closing date. Departments should not expect you to accept an offer to be hosted before 20 August.
STFC sets a strict limit on the number of applications that each department may submit. Therefore, it may not be possible for a host to support all interested applicants. Any departments who exceed their limit will be required to withdraw the excess applications. It is therefore very important that you seek assurance from your proposed host department that your application can be accommodated within its limit.
Two particular points to note are that:
Fellowships can be awarded to outstanding candidates returning from a career break or from working outside academic research.
Applications are welcome from those seeking to resume a research career, following a period of absence from active research of, normally, at least one year. The break may have been due, for example, to long term illness, family or caring responsibilities or working in non‐academic employment.
Applicants should make clear any substantive periods of absence from research within their application and c.v. Further details on the nature of the absence and how it has affected track record, productivity and career progression may be provided if desired. Information provided will be used only to make appropriate adjustments when assessing an individual's track record, productivity and career progression. The Fellowship Panel will take into account time spent outside the active research. In assessing the effects of career breaks, the Panel will note the applicant's career trajectory and potential at the beginning of the break, relative to the stage of the applicant's career. In assessing applicants, the Panel will recognise that the effects on productivity of a career break, may continue beyond the return to work.
Examples of areas that may be affected are:
Applications must fall within the remit of the STFC core Science Programme (astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics, accelerator science) and afford scope for original work.
Fellowship applications will be sent to independent reviewers for assessment. Reviewer comments on your application will be made available to you and you will have an opportunity to respond to any factual inaccuracies. You should address your response to the Fellowship Panel and not the reviewers. Your response should be in A4 format with a maximum of half a side per reviewer. If you are responding to three reviewers' comments the maximum response should be one and half slides in total. As for all attachments, the response should be written as per STFC Specific Requirements. Please complete and submit your response by the due date stated – this is normally five working days after receipt of the invitation.
Your application, reviewers’ comments and any response by you will be considered by the Fellowships Panel, operating as seven sub‐panels: extragalactic, near universe, near universe solar/exoplanet,particle physics experiment, particle physics theory, particle astrophysics and cosmology, and nuclear physics. Your application will be ranked against the others in that area and the top‐ranked candidates in each sub‐panel area will be invited for interview. It is desirable for candidates to attend the interview in person. Apart from the reviewer comments, you will also receive feedback from the panel. Host departments will be notified of the reviewer comments.
The highest ranked candidates from the interviews will be offered Ernest Rutherford Fellowships. If any of these candidates withdraw, Fellowships will be offered to the ranked list of reserve candidates.
Closing date for Fellowship applications Deadline 16:00 17 September 2019
|Responses to independent reviewer comments||November/December 2020|
|Decision on who to invite to interview||Mid/late January 2021|
|Interview||9 – 11 February 2021|
|Awards announced||End February 2021|
|Fellowships start||1 June 2021 – 31 March 2022|
Fellowships normally begin on 1 October of the year of award unless you indicate a different start date on your application. The earliest a Fellowship may start is 1 June. The offer of a Fellowship will not be held open for more than six months from the announced start date of the award. All Fellowships must be taken up by the following 31 March.
In considering your Fellowship application, the Fellowship Panel will use the following criteria:
The competency framework in Annex 1 gives an additional indication of how your application can provide evidence of the level of experience and abilities expected.
If your application has been affected by an earlier career break or other extenuating circumstances, please indicate this so that it can be taken into account in the assessment of your application.
Applications for Ernest Rutherford Fellowships are submitted through the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je‐S) system. If you have not used the Je‐S system to submit an application before, please ensure, well in advance of the closing date, that you have set up an account. Guidance for completion of the application is provided through the Je‐S help text, available from the Je‐S system front page, and context sensitive help throughout the system.
You are advised to contact your host organisation’s Research Administration as soon as possible as departments may have their own deadlines for candidate selection which may be several weeks before the closing date. They will advise you about costing your proposal and internal procedures relating to submitting a research proposal through Je‐S. Your Fellowship application must be costed and submitted by the host organisation.
Applicants may submit only one application to STFC for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship per year.
All documents must be submitted as PDF attachments and must abide by the page limits (outlined below) and the restrictions on font size, font type and margins (described in STFC Requirements).The CV template of a maximum of two sides of A4 must be used. The format of the CV template must not be altered. An exception will be made for applicants who complete the section on Career Breaks. These rules will be strictly enforced. STFC will reject a proposal if any of the documents submitted breaches the rules on page limits, font size, font type or margins. Proposals that are in breach of the application rules will not be returned for amendment. The only exception would be where a breach occurred because of issues in downloading the proposal into Research Council systems.
You must ensure your application is submitted to your host institution well before the deadline as some institutions have a submitter pool which may delay your application being submitted to council (STFC).
Together with your application proforma, you will need to include the following mandatory pdf attachments:
No other documents will be considered.
9.1 Case for Support
Overview: This should be a clear and concise description of your research track record and the vision, aims and context of your research (maximum length of four sides of A4 including references, diagrams and illustrations). The description of your track record may refer to but should not duplicate material given in your CV or publication list. You should focus on your achievements that have the most relevance to your application and the assessment criteria, including your most significant results and their impact, and mention any past or present collaborations. The description of your Fellowship research should describe the context and aims, indicate the approach you intend to take and the timetable for the work, highlight what is novel and explain why it is timely. You should set your programme of research in the wider international context and explain why you are the right person to do the work.
A separate Pathways to Impact statement is no longer required, but applicants must still consider how they will or might achieve impact throughout their projects and include this as part of their Case for Support. Please see section 5.11.3 of the STFC Research Grants Handbook for information on providing information on impact in your proposal.
Applicants should note that, whilst there are no set rules against including web links in the case for support, reviewers are under no obligation to follow them so they should not be used as a way to provide critical informatioin.
Further information to include in your case for support:
9.2 Data Management PlanIf your proposal is for a project that would result in the production or collection of scientific data, then a Data Management Plan (DMP) should be added as an attachment. The data management plan should explain how the data will be managed over the lifetime of the project and, where appropriate, preserved for future re-use. This is a mandatory requirement; therefore if a DMP is not relevant to your proposal then an attachment explaining this should be uploaded to pass the Je-S validation requirement. Further information on completing your DMP can be found on the following web page Data management plan - Science and Technology Facilities Council
9.3 Choice of Host Institution
When selecting an Institution at which to hold the proposed Fellowship you should consider where it would be most appropriate to further your research career. You must provide a clear statement in your application as to your choice of institution. In many cases the Fellowship offers an ideal opportunity to change institution in order to gain wider experience, while in some scientific areas it may be appropriate and, indeed, necessary for you to remain at the Institution where you are currently based. If you are applying to hold a Fellowship at an institution in order to co‐locate with your spouse or partner, you should make this clear in your application. Applying to hold a Fellowship at a particular institution because of family constraints will not disadvantage a candidate. If your choice of institution is for personal reasons, please indicate this in the appropriate section on the cv template.
It is your responsibility and not your host institution’s, to complete the section ‘Choice of Host institution’ on your proposal.
9.4 Checklist of Documents
Please ensure that the following documents are included with your application adhering to the regulation on page limits (repeated below and on font size, font type and margins as stated in Section 9:
Fellowship applications are costed on the basis of full economic costs (fEC). If a Fellowship is awarded, STFC will provide funding at 80% of the fEC requested. The host institution must agree to find the balance of fEC for the proposal from other resources. Universities and other higher education organisations use the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology to calculate fEC. Please refer to the Research Grants Handbook for further information.
For non‐university organisations, Research Councils require a validation process to ensure that their costing methodologies are robust. Standard default rates should be used where Research organisations have not developed their own rates. Please refer to the Research Grants Handbook for further information.
10.1 Directly Incurred Costs
Costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project are charged as the cash value actually spent and are supported by an auditable record. Ernest Rutherford Fellowships provide funds to cover your salary, the costs of personal travel and some minor equipment costs. These should be requested under the Directly Incurred Costs heading. Applicants who are returning from a career break may also apply for funds for retraining and updating their skills where this can be justified in the context of the proposed research project.
You are advised to discuss and agree your starting salary with your proposed host institution, before your application is submitted. The agreed salary should be in accordance with the institution’s standard recruitment and employment practices. The appointment level on the institution’s salary scale should be justified in the application. The salary costs requested should include employer’s national insurance and superannuation contributions. Salary increments over the period of the Fellowship should be taken into account, but not anticipated future pay awards.
STFC will award funds on the basis of the agreed salary scales at the time of announcement, with provision for future years increase on the basis of standard UKRI indexation rates. Once announced the grant will not normally be increased to take account of different indexation rates.
Personal travel is taken to include necessary collaborative visits and fieldwork, and attendance at one conference workshop or symposium during each year of the Fellowship, but excluding fieldwork and visits which form part of the work of a research group with which you may be associated.
If you are associated with an STFC research grant you must ensure that any travel connected with the research project for which the grant was given is claimed from that source.
You should estimate in your application all personal travel and subsistence funds required during the lifetime of the Fellowship. Travel and subsistence costs are expected to be around £2k per annum. If there are exceptional circumstances for applying for additional funding in excess of the guidance levels justification will need to be made in your Case for Support.
10.4 Other Costs
Applicants may request minor equipment and consumables up to a total of £5k for the duration of the fellowship under Directly Incurred Other costs. At the end of the Fellowship any resources purchased will belong to the Institution. If there are exceptional reasons for applying for more than the guideline level then justification of these costs should be included in your Case for Support.
STFC do not fund mentoring time and this cost should not be included in the funding costs.
Laptops may be costed where a new member of staff (e.g. a fellow) who is employed purely for the grant will require this, or where a higher specification is required for the completion of specific grant related activities such as data modelling, enhanced graphics etc. These costs should be applied for under Directly Incurred "Other Costs".
10.5 Relocation and Visas
Applicants moving to the UK from overseas to take up an award may request relocation and visa costs. These costs should be applied for under the Directly Incurred “Other Costs” heading on the proforma. STFC will award a maximum of £1.2k if moving from within Europe or £3k if moving from outside of Europe. NHS surcharge payment is not an eligible cost as part of a visa application.
10.6 Publication Costs
STFC will no longer provide funding in research grants for any publication costs associated with peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers. UKRI provides direct funding to research organisations for this purpose. Publication costs associated with research outputs other than journal articles and conference papers, such as books, monographs, critical editions, catalogues etc. may, however, continue to be included in grants as a Directly Incurred Other Cost. Any request for such costs will of course need to be fully justified in the case for support/justification of resources.
10.7 Directly Allocated Costs
Estates costs include building and premises costs, basic services and utilities and appear under the Directly Allocated Costs heading. Estates costs are calculated by the research organisation and a single figure will appear on the application.
10.8 Indirect Costs
Indirect costs include the costs of administration, such as personnel, finance, library and some departmental services. Like estate costs, indirect costs will be calculated by the research organisation and a single figure will be entered on the application.
STFC Fellowships are governed by the grant conditions as set out in the Research Grants Handbook unless otherwise stated. Applications are accepted and awards are made on the understanding that Research Organisations and Fellows agree to observe the terms and conditions and the scheme requirements set out in this document and any amendments issued during the currency of the award. STFC intends its scheme to be flexible and reserves the right to deal as it thinks fit with applications of unusual character and to waive any rule at its absolute discretion.
Applicants should refer to the UK Research and Innovation fEC Grant Standard Terms and Conditions of Grant and the UK Research and Innovation fEC Grants Standard Terms and Conditions of Grant Guidance for further information.
Research Organisations must appoint Research Fellow employees for the full duration of the award and integrate the Research Fellow within the research activities of the host department, whilst ensuring that he or she is able to maintain independence and focus on their personal research programme. Awards are made on the understanding that the Fellow’s work and progress are subject to the same monitoring and appraisal procedures as those of other academic staff within the host institution, and that there are adequate facilities at the host institution for the research proposed.
12.1 Part Time Working
Fellowships can be held either on a full‐time or may be sought on a part‐time basis by applicants wishing to combine their Fellowship with caring responsibilities. A part‐time award can be held at 50% or above of full‐time equivalent. A part‐time Fellow may not hold another part‐time position in conjunction with the Fellowship. The period of award for Fellowships held on a part‐time basis will be extended on a pro rata basis.
After a fellowship grant has started, the duration may be extended to cover: maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave, paid sick leave, extended jury service, or changes from full-time to part-time working for a Research Fellow in line with the terms and conditions of the fellow’s employment. Otherwise, the conditions for extending Fellowship grants are the same as apply to research grants.
Any request for an extension should be made via the Grant Maintenance facility in Je-S as soon as the required duration is known. All requests for extensions must be made before the grant ends. Making requests for extensions near the end of the grant, especially where this would move payments to a different financial year, is not encouraged as this increases the risk that we will be unable to accommodate the request within budget restrictions.
12.3 Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental leave
Fellows are entitled to take parental leave in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment. We will consider requests for a Fellowship Grant to be placed in abeyance during the absence of the Research Fellow for parental leave, and the period of the Fellowship extended by the period of leave. We will also consider requests to continue the Fellowship on a flexible or part-time basis to allow the Research Fellow to meet caring responsibilities. More information can be found under RGC 8.3 in the UKRI terms and conditions.
12.4 Contribution to child-care costs associated with conference attendance or collaborative visits
STFC will consider funding childcare expenses for ER Fellows, in the event that they incur substantial additional childcare costs as a result of an activity directly associated with their fellowship. The funds may be used to cover, or partially cover, childcare costs that are additional to those that would be incurred anyway, without the conference attendance or collaborative visit. This could include the cost of additional care at home or the cost of items such as flights and accommodation for the child(ren) and a carer if necessary. The maximum value of a claim is £500. Up to three claims may be made during the Fellowship. Payment will be made on receipt of a claim following the conference attendance or collaborative visit. Further details and claim forms will be available to successful applicants or available from firstname.lastname@example.org
12.5 Sick Leave
Fellows are entitled to take sick leave in accordance with the research organisation’s terms and conditions. If requested, consideration will be given to allowing a fellowship grant to be placed in abeyance during the absence of the Research Fellow due to sick leave, and the period of the fellowship extended by the period of sick leave. The additional salary costs for the fellow (pro rata to their percentage FTE on the fellowship) should be claimed, as necessary, at the end of the extended period. More information on sick leave can be found under RGC 8.4 in the UKRI terms and conditions.
12.6 Break in Service
You will be allowed a break in service not more than twice during the period of the award, for periods amounting together to not more than two years, to enable time to be spent on another related activity not supported by STFC.
Breaks in service will not normally be permitted during the first or final years of the Fellowship, unless this is on maternity or sick leave, and must be endorsed by your Head of Department. Where STFC agrees to a break in service, the duration of the Fellowship will not be extended and payments to the institution will cease for the period of the break (i.e. a Fellow taking a maximum break in service of two years would receive only three years of Fellowship funding).
12.7 Movement between Institutions
Applicants must take up the award at the host institution identified in the application. Consideration will be given to requests during the course of an award to relocate the Fellowship to a different institution for scientific or domestic reasons.
STFC have adapted a more flexible approach to a fellow transferring their fellowship from their original host institution. If a fellow is offered a permanent position at a different institution, then provided the job was advertised and the closing date and interviews were held after the fellow had accepted the fellowship offer, then the fellow would be allowed to transfer their fellowship. The new institution would need to confirm that the teaching requirement was within the permitted limit (see section 12.8) and the fellow would have the necessary support. Clarification on the impact of their fellowship outcomes would also be required. The transfer would still be subject to the agreement of the two institutions involved and approval by the chair of Education, Training and Careers Committee.
Guidance on making a request to transfer a fellowship can be found on the UKRI website.
Any computer 'consumables' that have been purchased on a fellow's original fellowship grant should remain the property of the fellow whilst they are carrying out their research and therefore should be transferred with the fellow.
Fellows may undertake up to a maximum of six hours teaching, including preparation, each working week (total 260 hours per annum, pro rata for part‐time awards) if the Head of Department considers it desirable and provided it does not hinder progress on research work. Apart from this, managing research and normal holidays, Fellows must devote themselves to research and no other work may be undertaken within usual working hours, although exceptions are made for time spent on public engagement and other STFC‐approved business.
12.9 STFC Summer Schools
STFC supports short courses and summer schools held in a core research activity supported by the STFC studentships programme (astronomy, solar system science, particle astrophysics, particle physics, nuclear physics) which are primarily aimed at STFC-funded PhD students. Ernest Rutherford Fellows will normally be expected to be available to participate as lecturers or tutors in summer schools.
12.10 Progress Reports
Your Head of Department is required to submit a report confirming your progress during the first half of your award.
12.11 Reporting and Post – Fellowship Destinations
STFC has the responsibility to demonstrate the value and impact of research supported through public funding. STFC Fellows are required to provide an annual update of information relating to the outputs, outcomes and impacts (referred to as research outcomes) that arise from their STFC funded research. Researchfish is an online system which is used to collect this information. You would be required to have a Researchfish account and to use the Researchfish system to provide these updates annually during the period of your award and usually for five years after your award has finished. Sanctions will apply to fellows who do not make a submission each year during the data submission period. More information can be found on the UKRI Research Outcomes webpage.
STFC requires Fellows to complete a short questionnaire giving details of the post taken up on completion of the Fellowship.
12.12 Career Path Tracking
STFC is keen to track the careers of its former Fellows and may undertake detailed studies of the career paths followed by fellows several years after their fellowship has been completed. Such studies inform policy decisions affecting STFC's fellowship programme.
Institutions are encouraged to register their fellowship data with the Information Commissioner in a way that will allow it to be released for career path tracking exercises, as this will provide additional help to STFC in tracing former fellows.
12.13 Public Engagement
Applicants who wish to undertake public engagement during their Fellowship should outline their plans for delivering and evaluating their engagement in their proposal. Necessary costs for such activities should be requested and justified as normal. Fellowship holders must report the outcomes of their engagement using ResearchFish and the final report required by the conditions of the award.
Departments must provide mentoring opportunities for Fellows. This should include contact with a named individual who can draw on their experience to help you in your professional or personal development. They should also help you rapidly access resources at your Research Organisation through knowledge of appropriate processes and systems.
The Fellowship Team are working from home during COVID-19. For all enquiries, please email them to ensure a quick response.
Tel: +44 (0)1793 413 195
The table provides an indication of the skills, knowledge and experience that a researcher might demonstrate to support their application for a fellowship award. It is not an exhaustive list, nor is there an expectation that all applicants will have all of the competencies; they need to have met the criteria at a sufficient breadth and depth to demonstrate their fit to this stage and provide evidence to support that in their proposal.
|The excellence of the research achievements of the applicant||
|The potential of the individual to lead their research discipline||
|The capability of the applicant to fulfill the wider responsibilities of an academic career||
|The quality, timeliness, feasibility, novelty and vision of the research proposal;||
|The potential impact on STFC strategic priorities with a clearly achievable and project-specific proposal to realise both the immediate scientific and wider impact goals||
You can download the complete guidance for applicants as a PDF:
Fellowships and general enquiries
Tel: +(44) (0) 1793 413195
Last updated: 25 September 2020