we are currently closed for applications. Applications will be open for the next round on the 1st September with the next deadline being 31st October 2024

The mentorship programme aims to support strong senior Independent Research Fellowship (IRF) applications to join the Department of Biology.

Successful applicants can expect to be paired with a senior academic mentor in the Department of Biology. The mentor will provide advice and support to strengthen fellowship applications, as well as ensuring optimal costings and support letters are prepared within funder timeframes.

The programme invites applications from early career researchers with excellent track records who wish to apply for UK and International funding schemes such as:

  • BBSRC Discovery Fellowships 
  • NERC Independent Research Fellowships 
  • MRC Early Career Awards
  • Royal Society University Research Fellowships 
  • Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships 
  • Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowships
  • ERC Starting Grant 

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Interest is welcomed from early career researchers in all areas of biology, including those at interdisciplinary boundaries with other life sciences, physical or social sciences who may draw on the outstanding breadth of Oxford’s research environment. Please check your eligibility for the fellowship you intend to apply to; generally, the fellowships applicable for the mentorship programme are intended for those who have already completed their PhD and some require several years of postdoctoral research experience.

If you wish to seek the Department’s support to apply for any of the fellowships listed above, you must engage with this process.

Please note this is not an offer of a job or a guarantee that you will be successful in gaining any of these fellowships to join the Department.

Selected applicants are assigned a mentor who is a senior researcher within the department who will provide support and advice. The aim of the mentoring system is to:   

  1. Aid the progression to an independent researcher and group leader
  2. Identify ways in which the Department can best support and help you
  3. Facilitate progression to either another Fellowship or permanent position

See the Applications tab for more details. 

The Department of Biology is dedicated to upholding and developing good employment practice for women working in science, and holds an Athena Swan Award for its initiatives in this area. 

In many Fellowship schemes, an interview is the final step in the application process. We provide mock interview practice and have found that this has a positive impact on success rates.

Mentorship applications are advertised twice per year, with closing dates on 31 March and 31 October every year.

Round Applications open Applications close Outcomes communicated and mentors assigned
1 1 February 31 March 7 May
2 1 September 31 October 7 December


Applicants should assess which deadline is most suitable for them depending on which fellowships they wish to apply for. The table below shows when to apply for mentorship depending on the fellowship you are interested in applying for.

Round External fellowships

NERC Independent Research Fellowship

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship

Royal Society University Research Fellowship

ERC Starting Grant

Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship (July and November deadlines)


BBSRC Discovery Fellowship

MRC Early Career Awards

ERC Starting Grant

Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship (April deadline)


The Department has several research Sections (themes); you will need to choose the most appropriate Section for your mentorship submission based on your research interests. Read more about the Sections of the Department


we are currently closed for applications. Applications will be open for the next round on the 1st September with the next deadline being 31st October 2024

To express your interest, please send the following to fellows@biology.ox.ac.uk by the deadline:

  1. a completed application cover sheet;
  2. a two-page research proposal;
  3. your CV (no more than five pages).

Please include all appointments, publications, and appropriate research information. Please note that all three items must be included to ensure that your application is considered. Any questions can be directed to fellows@biology.ox.ac.uk.

Selection criteria

  • Scientific excellence
  • Potential readiness and competitiveness for schemes in programme
  • Potential synergy or complementarity with Section and Department
  • Availability of facilities for the proposed work

Next steps

We aim to notify all applicants 5 weeks after the deadline if they have been selected and who will be their assigned mentor.

From this point onward, the mentor will be their main point of contact. The mentor will advise candidates on all aspects of the preparation of their applications and will agree a timeline for the next steps.

The candidates will be expected to: 

  • Confirm their intent to submit an application at least 6 weeks before the intended fellowship deadline
  • Finalise all aspects of the application at least 3 weeks before the funder’s deadline
  • Be available to address queries for internal approvals, such as budgeting and support needs, until the application is submitted.
Achieving academic success

Once you have obtained a Fellowship, the Department can provide a wealth of support and advice to assist you in maximising the success of your Fellowship research.

  • Grants: Various Fellowship schemes allow you to apply for additional research funding. Advice and information can be provided for external funding applications.
  • Additional funding support: Oxford has a diverse range of internal funding schemes to support research, including pilot projects.
  • Graduate students: Fellows holding Fellowships of at least three years duration are actively encouraged to supervise DPhil (PhD) students from their first year.
  • Recognition: We actively nominate researchers for national and international awards, such as Zoological Society of London Scientific Medal, Michael Faraday Prize, and L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Awards, among others.
Other fellowships

There are various Fellowship schemes which bridge the gap between post-doctoral and Independent Research Fellowships, which are not a part of this programme. For example:

  • EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships
  • Royal Society Career Development Fellowships
  • Royal Society Newton International Fellowships
  • JSPS Fellowships
  • Royal Commission of 1851 Fellowships
  • Daphne Jackson Fellowships

There are also several Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) advertised by Oxford colleges.

If you wish to pursue any of these, please directly contact academic staff in the Department of Biology who are active in a relevant area of science.

If a fellowship that you would like to apply to is not listed, please contact fellows@biology.ox.ac.uk.