Personal Research Fellowships

RSE Personal Research Fellowships provide eligible applicants with the opportunity to take up to twelve months to focus on a research project of their choice.

The award provides funding for the appointment of a temporary replacement to enable the awardee to take research leave, either in their own institution or elsewhere, whilst remaining in continuous employment with their present employer. In addition to funding the salary for the replacement member of staff (including on costs), this grant funds research costs for the awardee.

Applicant eligibility

  • Applicants must be existing members of academic staff on open-ended or continuing contracts in a higher education institution (HEI), further education institute (FEI), research institution (RI) or cultural institution (CI) where the main offices and facilities are located in Scotland.
  • Applicants on short or fixed-term contracts should ensure their contracts extend for at least 3 months after the end of the proposed project. Early Career Researchers (ECRs) on staged contracts to permanent lectureship positions are eligible for RSE Personal Research Fellowships but must be in contract for the duration of the award.
  • Awardees must not hold other paid appointments without the express permission of the RSE.
  • Upon appointment, awardees will be required to devote themselves full time to the research project specified in the application form. Allowance will be made for graduate supervision (both postgraduate, masters and PhD) and, exceptionally, other limited amounts of research-related administration.
  • A new application will not be considered when a report on a previous RSE award is overdue.
  • RSE Personal Research Fellowships are open to early and mid-career researchers.
  • Early career researcher (ECR) definition: ECR applicants must be within seven years of the award of their PhD (from the point of successful PhD viva to the point of applying) and be within seven years of their first academic appointment (paid contract of employment which lists research or teaching as the primary role). Additionally:
    • Maternity/paternity/parental/adoption leave after award of PhD of up to 18 months per child is taken into consideration. Please include the time you were away from work on maternity/paternity/adoption leave in the section ‘career history’;
    • Documented periods of leave for other reasons, i.e., long-term medical absence will also be taken into consideration.
  • Mid-career academics definition: are normally within no more than 15 years from the award of their doctorate. This does not include career breaks.

Research eligibility

  • Applicants are required to pursue their research in a HEI, FEI, RI or CI in Scotland; only these are acceptable as host institutions. This may be different to their current place of employment.
  • The research can be in any academic discipline.
  • Successful applications should have a start date between 1 September 2024 – 28 February 2025.

Application process

This award is now closed and will open again for the autumn call between 5 September – noon 24 October 2024.

The online application link below will become live when the award is open. Please follow these steps to apply:

  1. Create a profile or log-in here.
  2. Once into your profile, access and complete the online application – access to the application form is only available if you are logged-in. Google Chrome is the recommended browser.
  3. Arrange for two referee forms to be sent to These are available to download from the resources below.

Resources for applicants

RSE Personal Research Fellowships terms and conditions

RSE Research Awards general terms and conditions

RSE referee form

What makes a good RSE application?

Contact us

For more information regarding the award, please contact the Research Awards team on

Case studies

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