Being a Fellow of the RSE and contribute your knowledge to tackling the most pressing challenges of the modern world.
Fellows should have outstanding achievements in their field, high esteem in professional standing, and contribute to society or public good.
Guidance for RSE Fellows and candidates on the nomination form and candidate paperwork. Please read before beginning the nomination process.
Guidance for RSE Fellows for completing the assessor form.


The election process consists of three key stages:


Existing Fellows submit forms to nominate candidates with the support of two additional RSE Fellow Assessors


Nominations are reviewed and shortlisted by a series of discipline and sector specific panels to create a final shortlist


The final shortlist is agreed upon by RSE Council, and a final ballot is issued to the full Fellowship for approval.


Ballot counted and new Fellows informed (and asked to confirm willing to be elected)

Nominations Groups meet
Unsuccessful candidates and their proposers informed

Nominations Groups meet
New Fellows publicly announced

Nomination paperwork finalised and made available
New Fellows Induction DayProcessing nominations

Deadline for nominations (19 June)
Processing nominationsFellowship Committee meeting (to agree broad ‘quotas’ for allocation of places)

Briefing meeting for Sectional Committee Chairs and Members

Nominations to Sectional Committees for review
Sectional Committee meetingsSector Group Meetings

Fellowship Secretary report to Annual Statutory Meeting
Fellowship Committee meeting (to recommend candidates for Fellowship)Council meeting (to agree Fellowship Committee recommendations)

Ballot issues to Fellows

Nominations Groups meet

1. Nomination

March – May

How do nominations begin?

Nominations can only be submitted by RSE Fellows.

  • Nominations are primarily initiated by Fellows approaching candidates of their choosing;
  • Interested potential candidates also often also use their existing networks and the RSE Fellowship directory to identify current Fellows to consult about a nomination;
  • Where potential candidates are interested in being nominated to Fellowship, they can approach the RSE Fellowship team regarding eligibility or for further information.
  • Nominations groups work to proactively identify individuals in underrepresented areas who should potentially be considered for Fellowship.
    • Nominations Groups have been established to identify potential candidates from underrepresented areas within the RSE proactively and to facilitate the completion of these nominations;
    • The groups consist of Fellows who are experts in the relevant field with experience of the nomination process. They meet between November and March to discuss and identify potential candidates and match candidates with proposers and assessors, supported by the RSE Fellowship team as required;
    • The Nominations Groups are: Gender, creative arts, business, professions, younger, ethnicity;
    • The groups are independent of the rest of the nomination process (as far as possible, no members also participate in the later shortlisting stages) and once submitted, these Nominations are not identified or treated in any special way during the shortlisting stage.

Who submits a nomination and how?

  • Nominations are submitted electronically via the RSE’s online Fellows area
  • A group of three Fellows is required to submit a nomination:
    • One proposer
    • Two assessors (organised by proposer)
  • Nominations consist of
    • Online nomination form (completed by proposer)
    • Upload of candidate’s CV document (4 pages) to the nomination form
    • Upload of signed candidate declaration to Ordinary and Corresponding nominations
    • Online assessors’ forms (both assessors will be contacted to complete these once the nomination form has been submitted)

No forms, unsolicited materials, references or letters of support will be accepted by email.

Proposer and assessor eligibility requirements


Must be (Ordinary) Fellows of the Society;

Should have personal knowledge of the candidate’s work.


Can be from any category of RSE Fellowship (including Corresponding and Honorary);

Are usually identified and confirmed by the proposer, sometimes in conjunction with the candidate. RSE staff can support with identifying assessors where required, particularly in underrepresented subjects;

Should preferably have personal knowledge of the candidate’s works but if necessary can base their report on their knowledge of the candidate “by reputation”.

Proposer and assessors

Should ideally belong to the same area of work as the candidate (at least one of the three);

Should have some distance from the candidate (not a line manager, recent supervisor, close collaborator, family member etc.);

Can only include a maximum of one Fellow currently employed by the same institution as the candidate;

Can only be associated with two new Fellowship nominations in a given year (whether as a proposer or assessor); Nominations categorised below are exceptions which do not count towards this two nominations per Fellow limit:

  • Candidates who fall within the RSE’s underrepresented areas (Gender, Creative Arts, Business, Professions, Younger, Ethnicity);
  • Honorary and Corresponding candidates;
  • Existing nominations in their second or third year of consideration;

Cannot be Sectional Committee Chairs or Fellowship Committee Members;

  • Members of Sectional Committees and ordinary Council members can be proposers and assessors;
  • If an existing proposer or assessor becomes a Chair or Fellowship Committee member, they can remain as a proposer or assessor, but will not be involved in the decision-making process for that candidate;

How to begin: Advice for proposers and assessors

  • Discuss the nomination: Proposers are advised to begin by talking to candidates about the RSE election process and timeline of nomination to Fellowship.
    • Candidates should know that election is highly competitive with no guarantee of success and that Fellows are asked to be active in the work of the Society. 
    • Candidates should also know that Fellows pay a one-off joining fee and thenceforth an annual subscription (however measures are in place to support anyone unable to pay, as no one should be excluded from the Fellowship because of an inability to pay).
  • Review the forms and guidance: Look at the guidance set out in the following pages with your candidate before completing the nomination forms. Don’t rely on reputation. Candidates may be completely unknown to the Sectional Committee considering the nomination, and for that reason, it will need the fullest information. The case must be made within the nomination forms. No unsolicited additional materials will be accepted. 

How many times is a nomination considered?

  • Candidates are automatically considered for three years unless a nomination is withdrawn.
  • Proposers will be provided with feedback and requested to update the content of the nomination for the second and third years.
  • Assessors and/or proposers can be changed each year, and RSE staff support this where necessary.
  • Unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated after a fallow period of two years.

2. Shortlisting

September – December

1. Agree on places available (Fellowship Committee and Council, August-September)

  • Fellowship Committee meets in August to review the total number of nominations received in each sector during the previous year and recommend broad quotas, which Council approves at their September meeting.

2. Shortlisting by discipline: (Sectional Committees, September)

  • Nominations are reviewed by the Sectional Committee(s) of the discipline(s) the proposer indicates on the nomination form;
  • Most candidates will be considered only by one committee. The RSE strongly advises that candidates should only be put forward to two committees in the case of strongly interdisciplinary work in more than one of the fifteen disciplines;
  • Committees normally comprise up to fifteen Fellows with a standard membership term of 3-4 years. A call for new members is issued to the full Fellowship, with appointments made to ensure as much breadth as possible (encompassing varied subjects, organisations, academic/non-academic backgrounds and gender balance). Fellows can view Sectional Committee membership.
  • Committees are led by a Chairperson (normally from the existing committee membership) approved by the overall Sector Convener and who has a term of three years maximum. Committee Chairs are responsible for confirming the relevance of all candidates allocated to their discipline;
  • The Sector Convener or another Fellow with nominations experience, ie. Fellowship committee member, normally attends Sectional Committee meetings as an observer;
  • A briefing session is held in advance of the Sectional Committee meetings for Chairs and members, together with written guidance.
  • Reviewing process:
    • Committees review the nomination forms, CVs and assessors forms provided for each candidate;
    • Members individually review nominations based on the three measures of excellence. Candidates are further discussed at the committee meeting.  Members with conflicts of interest regarding specific candidates do not participate in the relevant reviewing and conversations;
    • At the meeting, the committee agrees on a final ranked shortlist;
    • Sectional Committee Chairs then prepare short paragraphs summarising the short-listed candidates, including their strengths, suitability for Fellowship and any key elements of the discussion at the committee meeting. These paragraphs and the ranked shortlists progress to the relevant Sector Group and Sector Convener.

3.  Deciding overall sector shortlists (Sector Groups, October)

  • The Sectional Committee Chairs meet with the Convener for their overall Sector in one of four Sector Group meetings;
  • The aim of these meetings is to compare the shortlists within this Sector and agree an overall Sector shortlist;
  • The Sector Convener has a casting vote when necessary;
  • The recommended candidates go to the Fellowship Committee for consideration.

4.  Finalising the full nomination shortlist (Fellowship Committee, November)

  • The Fellowship Committee is chaired by the Fellowship Secretary and comprises the President, Sector Conveners, General Secretary, Treasurer and two Ordinary Council Members;
  • The Committee refers to the shortlists to agree the final allocation of Fellowship places for each Sector and any cross-discipline places;
  •  A final list of recommendations for Honorary Fellowship, Corresponding Fellowship and Fellowship is forwarded to Council for approval.

5. Approving the overall shortlist (Council, December)

  • The Fellowship Committee recommendations are presented to Council in early December for approval.

6. Voting on the overall shortlist (Fellowship Ballot, December-January)

  • Fellows are invited to approve the recommended new Fellows on the Ballot;
  • Fellows will previously have seen the full list of those candidates nominated for Fellowship (which is circulated with the ASM papers), and now receive the list of only those shortlisted and recommended by Council;
  • Fellows are asked to indicate any candidate unworthy of election. All votes are treated anonymously;
  • The ballot is counted in late January/early February by two Fellows appointed as Scrutineers;
  • To be elected a Fellow, each candidate must be supported by at least two-thirds of the votes cast;
  • In addition to objecting to a candidate on the Ballot, a process is also in place for Fellows to lodge a concern against a candidate on the ballot. This process is overseen by the Fellowship Secretary.

3. Election

January – February

  • The Scrutineers’ report goes to the Council meeting in February/March, and the result is announced at the first Ordinary meeting in February/March;
  • Successful candidates are approached after the Ballot and asked to confirm that they are still willing to become Fellows;
  • Unsuccessful candidates and their proposers are informed before any public announcements are made;
  • New Fellows are officially elected as of 1 March of each year.

Election to the Fellowship

Being a Fellow of the RSE and contribute your knowledge to tackling the most pressing challenges of the modern world.
Fellows should have outstanding achievements in their field, high esteem in professional standing, and contribute to society or public good.
Guidance for RSE Fellows and candidates on the nomination form and candidate paperwork. Please read before beginning the nomination process.
Guidance for RSE Fellows for completing the assessor form.