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Royal Society Research Professorship

Royal Society Research Professorships provide long term support for world-class researchers of outstanding achievement and promise.  These are the Society’s premier research awards and the aim of this scheme is to release the best leading researchers from teaching and administration allowing them to focus on research.

Saturn at its equinox. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Professor Michele Dougherty was Principal Investigator for the magnetometer instruments for two major outer planetary space missions.

What is the scheme’s value and tenure? 

  • Contribution to the award-holder’s salary costs (including on-costs) of £82,000 (basic salary) per year, which can be supplemented at the discretion of the host organisation;
  • Award holders will receive research expenses of up to £100,000 per year, confirmed until the end of March 2021.  
  • In addition, they may request startup costs of £200,000 in year 1 and £100,000 in year 2. 

[The Society will fund 80% of the full economic cost of the award for those Professorships funded through the Society’s Government grant. Further details are available from the Royal Society website ( or via the university grants office]

Length of tenure: Research Professors are appointed for up to 10 years: 5 years in the first instance with the opportunity to renew the professorship for a further 5 years subject to satisfactory progress.  After 10 years, all responsibility for the post, financial and otherwise, will pass to the host organisation alone.  A representative of the host organisation will be asked to agree in principle to make this commitment when an application is submitted to the Society.

Number of awards offered: 

There will be 5 Royal Society Research Professorships supported through the “Research Talent Fund” as well as the Royal Society E P Abraham Research Professorship restricted to biological and medical sciences areas.

Subjects covered: any of the natural and applied sciences including medical science, engineering and interdisciplinary research. One award (Royal Society EP Abraham Research Professorship) will be restricted to research in biological and medical sciences

These prestigious posts provide long-term support for internationally recognised researchers of outstanding achievement. Previous holders of Royal Society Research Professorships include Nobel Laureates and Presidents of the Royal Society.

Am I eligible to apply?

This scheme is open to world-class researchers (scientists and engineers). Applications are particularly welcomed from internationally renowned researchers currently residing outside of the UK.

The Scheme is open to applicants of all nationalities. Note, Royal Society Research Professorships are eligible for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa accelerated process of endorsement under the Exceptional Talent category (see page 20-21

Successful candidates who need to apply for a Tier 1 exceptional talent visa will be guaranteed the endorsement of the Royal Society, in its capacity as a competent body for the Tier 1 exceptional talent immigration route.

Under-represented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements, which are explained in the scheme notes.

What is the application process?

Applications should be submitted through the new Royal Society’s grant management system (FlexiGrant®).

Assessment criteria

These prestigious awards are designed to enable individuals of proven ability to undertake independent, original research into any of the natural and applied sciences including medical and engineering science.  

As such the primary considerations in the assessment will be:

  • the outstanding research track record of the applicant and international standing in their field; 
  • the high quality and originality of the proposed research vision and programme. And how it will advance their field;
  • the suitability of the research environment (UK university or research institution) 

All proposals submitted are initially reviewed and assessed by at least two members of the selection panel who have the most appropriate scientific expertise. Following initial assessment, a shortlist is drawn up, with shortlisted proposals subject to high quality peer review. Following completion of independent peer review a final shortlist for interview is drawn up with oversight by the Chair. If successful at this stage, you will be notified about your interview in December 2017. Interviews will be held on 15 or 16 January 2018. It is expected that applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the end of February. 

Please be assured that the Royal Society specifically requests anyone involved in reviewing applications to consider them in confidence.

If you have any enquiries about the submission of your application or about the Flexi-Grant® process, please contact the Grants Section Senior Fellowships team (tel: +44 (0) 20 7451 2653 or email:  

Case studies

Professor Michael Cates

Sir Andrew Wiles

Professor Matthew Rosseinsky