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Institute of Advanced Study

A Revised Programme for 2018/19

For the academic year 2018-19, the IAS will retain its current pattern of inviting 20 Fellows to Durham, in the first two terms of the academic year. However, in accordance with the recommendations of its 2016 review, rather than having a single annual research theme and 8-12 sub-theme activities, it will focus on two major projects/themes a term (ie four a year), with Fellowship nominations attached, and with teaching buyout provided for that term for the lead/coordinator of each of the four projects.


a) Members of the University will be invited to bid for funding to run a genuinely interdisciplinary project. Proposals should be short, but explain why the topic is novel; how and why an interdisciplinary approach matters; and what the likely outcomes will be. Application forms will be provided.

b) The Director of the IAS together with the three Faculty Co-Directors will be solely and exclusively responsible for selecting the four projects for each year, using where necessary the IAS Advisory Council members as external referees. The same will apply to Fellowship nominations and applications.

c) Projects will be composed as follows:

  • Each should have a very explicit focus or topic or question, but preferably one that is demonstrably novel and represents a major potential intellectual breakthrough.
  • Each must involve at least two Departments ideally from different Faculties within the University, and be genuinely and creatively interdisciplinary.
  • Each project should define a related ‘umbrella’ research theme or topic that might serve to attract related Fellowship applications.
  • Each project must have a clearly defined outcome indicated in the proposal (this could be a traditional outcome such as a book, an edited volume or articles in peer-review journals; a conference/workshop; the development of a grant application; or the opening and exploration of a new subject, as is appropriate to the disciplines involved and the topic suggested).
  • Proponents will be able to nominate, to work with them on the project, two, or at the most three, IAS Fellows reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the project. Project proponents must establish, prior to submitting their bids, whether their nominees are willing and able to accept a Fellowship invitation. A written expression of interest will be required from each nominee.
  • Unless there are exceptional circumstances, visiting Fellows should be from outside the UK.
  • The Fellows will be hosted at the Colleges, as at present, and provided with offices in the IAS.
  • The IAS will be the physical base for all of the projects, and their related meetings and seminars.
  • The academic lead coordinator/PI of each project will be given teaching buyout for the three-month duration of the project, to allow them to be actively and deeply involved in its development. This will be funded by the IAS at the same buyout level as its existing Fellowships.
  • Durham staff will not be eligible for IAS Fellowships (this is replaced by the teaching buyout scheme).
  • The academic staff members who propose the project will be wholly and jointly responsible for running the project.
  • As at present, each visiting Fellow will be required to give a public lecture associated with the College that is hosting them.
  • Each project will be required to run a weekly seminar with a mix of contributions by Fellows and external speakers, which should be open to other members of the University to attend.
  • The two projects each term should be encouraged to interact, and attend each other’s seminars, but not be compelled to do so
  • Each proposal can include requests for funding for related events such as conferences, workshops, exhibitions (and so forth).


a) The remaining IAS Fellowships will be advertised openly, with applicants invited to work in conjunction with any of the four projects, and/or to commit to undertaking collaborative work
with Durham scholar(s), as in the current model.

b) Departmental peer-review of Fellowship applications will be retained.

c) All Fellowships – nominated and otherwise – will be assessed comparatively by the IAS Directorate in a single round, according to existing quality criteria, requiring evidence of significant
academic distinction and/or exceptional early promise (see IAS website for details).

d) The IAS Directorate will continue its current practice of inviting an external reviewer to consider its proposed Fellowship offers.


Some funding will be available for follow-up meetings of project teams, and for other research developments annually (by application). These may assist researchers in developing other projects and outputs, or in carrying out foundational work for a major project application in the following year.

Relevant Forms are noted below.