Fellowship eligibility

NERC Independent Research Fellowships (IRFs) are open to researchers of any nationality and may be held in any area of the NERC remit, but must be based at an eligible UK research organisation. Applicants may not have a permanent academic position in a university or equivalent organisation.

Applicants must expect to submit their PhD thesis before the fellowship interviews would take place (April following the closing date) and, if successful, would not be able to take up the fellowship until the awarding university has confirmed its intent to award the PhD.

Applicants for NERC IRFs must have a maximum of eight years of full-time postdoctoral experience from the PhD certificate date to the closing date of the fellowship competition to which they are applying. The eight-year window is based on full-time working. Where applicants have worked part-time or had career breaks, the window would be extended accordingly.

Applicants should not have a permanent academic position (or the equivalent in institutions other than universities). NERC staff in Bands 5 and 6 only can apply for a fellowship and, if successful, would have to resign from their position in order to take up the fellowship.

Current NERC Postdoctoral Fellows are eligible to apply for a subsequent NERC IRF, provided they meet the eligibility criteria above.

The full eligibility requirements - including those related to the research topic, host institution and resubmission policy - are in the research grants and fellowships handbook.

Find out more about applying for a NERC fellowship.


Fellowship application enquiries should be sent to .

Information for non-European Economic Area applicants

All successful IRF applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route. Further information and contacts can be found on the UKRI website - external link under the International Fellows heading.