Skip to content

Career Development Fellowship

This scheme provides the most talented early career scientists from underrepresented groups in STEM with research funding and high-quality training opportunities to build a strong base for a successful research career. 

Stars in the night sky over a distant mountain, with a body of water in the foreground.
Taranaki stars by James Orr, runner-up in the Royal Society Publishing photography competition 2019.

Career Development Fellowship

The Career Development Fellowship will open to applications on 7 November 2023.

Sign up below to be notified when applications open (optional).

Notify me

About the scheme

The Career Development Fellowship (CDF) is a four-year, postdoctoral research fellowship that aims to support the retention in STEM of researchers from underrepresented backgrounds. The scheme will initially run as a pilot with researchers from Black heritage. If successful, the pilot may be broadened to researchers from other underrepresented groups.  

The scheme has been developed following cross-sector roundtables and Royal Society-commissioned reports which looked at trends across 11 years of Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) data and benchmarked the Society’s early career fellowships (PDF) against the eligible applicant pool. 

This process identified a need for interventions across the academic pipeline to support researchers from Black or Mixed Black African, Black Caribbean or other Black heritage backgrounds, particularly researchers making the transition from postgraduate to early postdoctoral stages. 

Fellowships will provide funding to conduct high-quality research and a comprehensive programme of mentoring, training and networking opportunities to support award holders in establishing a successful research career in the UK.

What does the scheme offer

  • Up to £690,000 over four years to cover the Research Fellow’s salary and associated on-costs (at 80%), directly allocated costs (at 80%) and research expenses; 
  • A high-quality programme of training, mentoring and engagement to support career development; 
  • Flexibility to accommodate personal circumstances including part-time working. There is also provision for maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave.

Applicants can request relocation and visa costs for themselves and their dependants (partner and children). These costs can be requested in addition to the total grant cap of £690,000 over four years. 


Research must be within the Royal Society’s remit of natural sciences, which includes but is not limited to biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. For a full list, please see the breakdown of subject groups and areas supported by the Royal Society. 

You can apply for the pilot scheme if you: 

  • Self-identify as being from a Black heritage including mixed Black background; 
  • Have a PhD or will have one by the time the funding starts; but have less than 24 months post-doctoral experience; 

Both UK and non-UK domiciled researchers who wish to conduct their research in the UK are eligible. 

Before applying, please ensure that you meet all eligibility requirements, laid out in the scheme notes. 

What is the application process? 

Before the scheme opens to applications on 7 November, you should: 

  • Read the scheme notes* and FAQs thoroughly.   
  • Check your eligibility against the scheme notes* 
  • Identify and confirm support from your sponsor, and check they are based at an eligible host organisation
  • Flag your intention to apply to the research office at your host organisation. 

* Please note the scheme notes will be published shortly 

When the scheme opens to applications on 7 November, you should: 

  • Begin your application. The form can be accessed through the Society’s grant management system Flexi-Grant®. It doesn’t need to be completed in one session, you can save your application in draft and return to it. 
  • Allow enough time for your application to be reviewed and approved by your research office  
  • Ensure you submit your application by 24 January 2024; you can only do this once all participants (e.g. Head of Department, nominated referee, etc) have completed their sections of the application form and clicked ‘save and submit’.

What happens when the scheme deadline has passed: 

  • Following eligibility checks, your application will be assessed by a Panel of experts with broad scientific interests.  
  • Panel members will review and score applications; and subsequently shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Panel to find out more about their proposed research. 
  • For additional advice and information, see our ‘Making a grant application’ page or contact the Career Development Fellowship team

Support for disabled applicants

The Royal Society welcomes applications from disabled applicants and provides adjustments to ensure that they can participate fully in the selection process. If you need an adjustment when accessing the application form, attending interviews, or for any other part of the application process, please contact the Grants Team via or call +44 20 7451 2666. Adjustments can include but are not limited to: 

  • Extension of the deadline 
  • Additional support to complete the application form 
  • Technical support during interviews for candidates with hearing or visual impairments  
  • Support during interviews for neurodiverse candidates and candidates with mental health conditions 
  • Additional costs to support candidates requiring a chaperone during interviews 

The Grants Team will be pleased to answer questions about eligibility and/or points covered in this section.

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.