School of Social and Political Science

Applying for postdoctoral fellowships


The School of Social and Political Science welcomes applications for postdoctoral research. This page gives details about the most frequently-applied for postdoctoral fellowship schemes, general guidance about how to start the application process, and information about School approval.

Please note that all postdoctoral fellowship applications must be approved by the School prior to submission.

Main postdoctoral fellowship schemes

The most commonly-applied for schemes are:

This page gives general guidance; please also see the scheme-specific pages.

If you have further questions about your postdoctoral application once you have read through these pages, please contact the SPS Research Office.

General guidance

  • Once you decide to apply for a postdoctoral research fellowship, you will need to identify and approach a potential mentor, and discuss your application with them. You should do this as early in the application process as possible. The Research Office have sample texts which may be used by the mentors when completing their sections for the application form. School policy is that all postdoctoral fellows have a mentor, even where this is not a requirement of the fellowship scheme.
  • Let the SPS Research Office know that you are planning to submit a postdoctoral fellowship application.
  • The SPS RO will provide your salary costings, your mentor's salary costings (where appropriate), and estates and indirect costings (where appropriate). You will need to provide other costings yourself, for example for research costs such as fieldwork, necessary equipment, or conference attendance. A good place to start is by looking at examples of past successful applications.
  • The project must have Head of Subject Area approval, your mentor can help to obtain this before submitting your application to the School.
  • If you wish to see any past successful applications , please contact us. Bear in mind that application forms may change.
  • Note that all applications must be approved by Head of School - including outline applications. Please do not submit your application until approval has been obtained.

School approval

All applications must be approved by Head of School. To obtain approval, please submit the following to the SPS Research Office:

  1. A completed application form (or a very nearly completed application with FINAL costings).
  2. A School ethics self-assessment, done in conjunction with your mentor. The procedure is normally very simple: see the School ethics pages for details. Please note that this must be done in addition to any ethical statements required within the PDRF application.

You will be informed by email when your application has been approved.You must allow sufficient time (at least a week) for School approval to be obtained - bear this in mind if you are working to a submission deadline. Please do not submit your application until approval has been obtained.

Guidance on costings

Pay scales

Unless the funder has a set stipend for postdoctoral fellowships, SPS postdoctoral fellowships are graded on the UE07 pay scale, with most awardees starting at the bottom of this scale, UE07.30 (c. £33,797 before taxes). Appointments above UE07.30 are at the discretion of SPS and will be commensurate with research experience and career profile. UoE employees with a current research position will have their fellowship costed from their current spine point if relevant (for instance a research fellow employed on an ongoing research grant at UE07.32 will continue upwards from 32 or 33, taking into account yearly progression). The ESRC New Investigator Grant and UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship schemes are costed at the bottom of UE08 (UE08.37, £41,526). This reflects the expected advanced early career research profile and experience level of potential applicants. All appointments at UE08 and above require interview and approval at College level.

When costed on a grant or fellowship application, however, additional salary costs such as National Insurance and employer pension contributions (if enrolled in the USS pension scheme) increase the salary costs for a one year full-time postdoctoral contract to approximately £45,000 (for UE07.30). In addition to salary costs, overheads bring the total for one postdoctoral contract (full-time, one year) to just over £100,000 (please see below).


As part of a Fellowship application, most funders allow overheads to be added to the budget. Overheads are essentially the additional running costs of hosting and supporting a member of staff, and represent a better picture of the true cost to the School. This is part of a costing methodology called ‘full economic costing’ or fEC.

Overheads are split into two different categories, estates and indirects, for which the University has standard rates that are automatically calculated:

Estates costs on an application contribute to the physical maintenance of the School and University, including facilities in the Chrystal Macmillan Building, providing office/desk space, furniture, computers and other physical elements that are necessary.

Indirect costs contribute toward the services that are needed in the University, including IT support, HR, payroll, pensions, library resources, etc.

For one full-time research contract for one year: estates non-lab rate: £13,627; indirects rate: £42,580. Depending on the funder, estates and indirects are typically included at a pro-rata rate for each research position. This means if a contract is part-time 2.5 days per week, the estates and indirects would be calculated at half these standard yearly rates. Contracts extending over more than one year would be multiplied out accordingly.

Find out more on fEC  the University of Edinburgh in grant applications and different categories of fEC costs. You will need to login with MyEd.

Travel and subsistence – costing your travel and field research on applications

SPS uses standard maximum rates for travel and subsistence, but these can be revised according to specific countries or situations. Please be advised these are not per diem rates, but estimates that will be charged against the project and/or reimbursed according to receipts and actual money spent. According to University Policy, staff must use standard class rail travel and economy class air travel and public transport should be used in the first instance.

UK travel - up to £150

EU travel – £250 - £350

International travel – c. £1,000

While tickets can often be found for less, these standard rates take into account that travel costs could rise over a number of years or that costs may be higher due to travel during peak seasons or at short notice.

Accommodation - £120 per night. If fieldwork requires renting a flat or room on a weekly or monthly rate, this would be expected to be less than £120 per night. Consider time of year if planning hosted conferences – Edinburgh during festival season books up very quickly and accommodation is likely to be much more expensive or hard to find centrally.

Subsistence - £30 per day, up to £45 if in expensive cities/countries. Subsistence includes meals, short local travel or other daily costs.

Local travel can be costed separately depending on project needs. If your fieldwork or travel is in a country with a lower/higher cost of living, you should edit the costs based on previous experience of conducting research in this location. Please keep in mind all costs will need to be broken down to daily rates and justified in the application.

Hosted events – rooms and catering

Rooms can be booked in the Chrystal Macmillan Building free of charge (such as the 6th floor seminar room) but may need to be booked in advance and availability will be subject to teaching needs. Outside of CMB larger spaces for conferences and events may cost £500-700, and may require additional A/V support at an additional cost.

Catering is bookable centrally. A good estimate is £20-25 per person for full day catering, including tea/coffee and snacks in the morning and afternoon, as well as a buffet lunch with cold/hot drinks. Dinners can be costed as part of conferences, for instance for research teams and key invited speakers. Plan on £35-40 per person in Edinburgh, but please note alcohol is not allowed as an eligible cost.