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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

2021/22 Project Application and Fellowship Nomination Process

The Institute of Advanced Study supports the development of high-quality, creative and ambitious interdisciplinary research. Each year we will facilitate and support the development of four, cross-department ‘major projects’, and a number of smaller interdisciplinary research developments.


Proposed projects must be genuinely interdisciplinary, innovative and ambitious. They should have both short- and longer-term objectives, and should aim to use the IAS’s developmental assistance to compose funding proposals that will fully support the research. We particularly encourage projects that have the potential to build towards major applications for Leverhulme Centres, Wellcome Collaborative Awards, ERC Synergy grants, or similar. All projects must involve at least two departments, ideally in different faculties.

The Principal Investigators on Major Projects may submit nominations for IAS international Fellows to work with them on their projects. These nominations must meet the IAS Distinguished Fellowship criteria. Up to two of these nominations will be assessed early, as part of the project evaluation in March 2020.

Other nominated candidates or open applications (to work on the major projects or on other collaborations with Durham hosts) will be considered in the established evaluation round.

The IAS is introducing a new visiting scholar scheme this year. In addition to the IAS Fellowship scheme, project proposers may also invite distinguished scholars who cannot commit to a 3-month Fellowship, or scholars who do not meet the criteria of the IAS Fellowships but have expertise essential to their project. There are thus two categories of visiting scholars:

(i) A Visiting Scholar category to provide for post-docs, early-career academics or practitioners participating in IAS Major Projects who do not have the track record or distinction to be considered for IAS Fellowships, but who bring particular skills or expertise to the project. Their visits would be proposed by the PIs of the Major Projects, and evaluated as part of the project proposal.

(ii) A Distinguished Visitor category to support collaborations with world-leading scholars who meet the criteria of distinction for an IAS Fellowship, but who are not in a position to take up a full Fellowship. Project leaders would be able to nominate potential collaborators for inclusion in this category, and they would be assessed by the IAS Directors on the basis of the IAS Fellowship criteria.

All proposals for Visiting Scholars (including those suggested as Distinguished Visitors) will be considered as part of the project evaluation.

Project funding of up to £22,000 can be requested to achieve the project development objectives. This funding may be used to cover the following costs:

  • Teaching buyout for one term for up to two project leaders (£8000 each).
  • Travel and (if not provided by a College) accommodation and subsistence for visiting scholars collaborating in the project development.
  • Travel and accommodation for project workshop participants and conference keynote speakers.
  • Catering for workshops and conferences.
  • Minor consumables.

The IAS is unable to provide funding to support staff time/employment on a project. It is expected that grant applications arising from the research development supported by the IAS will secure such funding.

Project Administration

The IAS does not have the staffing to offer administrative support to projects, although we can offer advice on accommodation, venues etc. Administrative support will be provided by the project proponents’ departments.

The IAS may be able to provide some office space for visiting collaborators at times (when these are not occupied by Fellows) but, if it cannot, it is expected that project PIs’ departments will do so. PIs should ensure, in planning to invite collaborators, that office space for them has been agreed.


Each year the IAS will offer other funding to support research developments:

Seedcorn funding of up to £3000 to support smaller research activities outside the major projects developments, such as networks or publications.
Applications can be made during 2021/22. Contact, who will provide the relevant application materials and further details.

Pre-project funding of up to £3000, to begin developing ideas and collaborative relationships for a major project application in the following year.
Linda Crowe will contact successful major project applicants in July 2020, and outline the application process required (for September 2020).

Post-project funding of up to £6000, to support ongoing developments following the main period of work on a major project.
In July 2022, at the end of the project year 2021/22, Linda Crowe will contact project investigators and outline the application process and deadline for requesting additional support (for 2022/23) .

Project timeline and development process for 2021/22

A call for projects will be communicated to departments in mid-November.

The IAS is introducing some new project development activities. The aim is to provide diverse disciplinary input into project ideas at the earliest possible stage, thus widening their interdisciplinary potential before the project goals and methodologies have been defined.

A preliminary summary of ideas for a major project (up to 500 words) should be submitted to Linda Crowe by 31 January 2020 (this deadline has been extended from 08 January). This may cover ideas for a project in 2021/22 or the following year.

All colleagues aiming to develop major projects for 2021/22 or the following year should attend a project scoping meeting on Wednesday 12 February 2020 from 12.00-4.00pm at the IAS (lunch will be provided). This is a reciprocal exercise: the project summaries will be circulated to all participants beforehand, and at the meeting project proponents will be given a few minutes to outline their project ideas to the whole group. The participants will be asked to offer feedback on project ideas, noting the relevant theories, literature and methods in their own disciplinary areas. In particular, they will be invited to suggest potential nominees: world-leading researchers who might provide the project proponents with alternate disciplinary perspectives.

A collective (internal) online forum will be set up, with the project summaries, to enable further input and suggestions from colleagues.

Following this feedback phase, those aiming to submit a project proposal for 2021/22 should send a 1-2 page project outline to by Monday 02 March 2020 (extended from Friday 14 February 2020), using the pro forma on the IAS website.

In composing their projects, colleagues are strongly advised to make use of the IAS’s Guidelines for Evaluating Interdisciplinary Research (Strang and McLeish 2015), available on the IAS website, here. These guidelines will be used in evaluating IAS project proposals, but they also provide a series of questions/criteria that are useful for researchers to consider in developing interdisciplinary projects.

If the volume of outline applications is very high, the IAS will make an initial selection, and it will provide feedback on unselected proposals. All selected applicants (Co-PIs) will be invited to the IAS week commencing 09 March 2020 to discuss their project and ideas with the IAS Directorate. Each proposal will be assigned an IAS Director who will assist the development of the full project application. The final submission date for full project applications is midday on Friday 20 March 2020 using the pro forma below.

Applications will be selected based on the following criteria (these are equally weighted):

Interdisciplinarity: how is the project interdisciplinary? How will different disciplinary approaches be integrated? What are the interdisciplinary outcomes that constitute ‘more than the sum of’ the disciplinary parts?

Novelty and ambition: to what extent does the project open new perspectives and create new interdisciplinary synergies?

Rigour: to what extent does the project employ appropriate and state-of-the-art concepts and methods, and/or develop promising new ones?

Clarity and quality of objectives: how clear and realistic are the intended outcomes; what impact will there be on Durham University’s research capacity and international competitiveness; how well does it fit with University and Department research strategies?

Quality of the proposed research team: track record relative to career stage, including notable publications, awards, prizes and other esteem indicators, complementarity and suitability to the project objectives of team members’ expertise, evidence of interest in interdisciplinary perspectives; in the case of the PI, evidence of intellectual leadership/leadership potential.

The IAS Directorate will review all applications, and will assess up to two Fellowship nominations per major project. Decisions (and feedback) will be relayed to all applicants by Wednesday 01 April 2020.

Fellowship Nominations

20 visiting IAS Fellowships are available during 2021/22. Up to two nominations for Fellows per major project will be assessed alongside project evaluations. The deadline for these is midday Friday 20 March 2020. Such nominees should be working in areas of direct relevance to the project, but – given that academics’ circumstances can change – project proponents should ensure that the project is not overly dependent upon their involvement. They are also encouraged to consider nominees from beyond their own disciplinary areas, to widen the range of perspectives brought to bear on the research questions.

Nominations for the major Fellowship round are also welcome (from project participants and colleagues across the University) for Fellows to collaborate either on major projects, or on other research developments with Durham scholars. The deadline for these is midday 19 June 2020, which is also the closing date for open applications to the Fellowship scheme.

Nominations should be for international, world-leading researchers (or practitioners, such as writers, artists, policy makers etc.) who meet the criteria for the IAS Distinguished Fellowship scheme. Thus they must have a well-established or strongly emerging international reputation; they must have made major contributions to their field and a substantial publication record (or equivalent achievements); and they must be able to provide substantial evidence of research leadership and/or public impact. They are expected to have played a significant role in shaping their discipline or field through their outputs, achievements and indicators of esteem.

In accord with the IAS’s remit to establish international collaborations, priority will, as a rule, be given to nominations and applicants from outside the UK.

Please note that IAS Fellowships are not available to undergraduate or postgraduate students. A completed PhD with five years’ post-doctoral experience is the minimum requirement for Fellows undertaking a traditional academic trajectory, or they must have an equivalent level of experience and track record in other areas. Applications from (or nominations for) early career researchers will only be considered if they demonstrate exceptional promise. Previous holders of an IAS Fellowship are not eligible for a further Fellowship either by nomination or application.

Outside the nominations made alongside projects, nominees and applicants will be assessed comparatively by the IAS Directorate in one single round in July 2020 according to existing quality criteria (see Fellowship application information). The IAS is committed to the goals of diversity and equal opportunity, and particularly encourages nomination of and applications from scholars from under-represented groups.

The deadline for two key project-related nominations (to be evaluated alongside the project application) is midday Friday 20 March 2020.

The deadline for all other nominations (related to the major projects or otherwise) is midday Friday 19 June 2020. This is also the deadline for open Fellowship applications.

Key Deadlines

Call for project proposals

15 November 2019

Deadline for 500-word (max) project summaries

31 January 2020

Project scoping meeting

12 February 2020

Project outline applications

02 March 2020

Project applicants invited to IAS to discuss proposals

09 March 2020

Project applicants advised of IAS facilitator

10 March 2020

Deadline for full project applications (and two key Fellowship nominations)

Midday 20 March 2020

Project review (including evaluation of up to two nominees)

w/c 23 March 2020

Project applicants notified of outcome

01 April 2020

External Fellowship recruitment opens

06 April 2020

Deadline for all nominations and external Fellowship applications

Midday 19 June 2020

Fellowship nominations and applications evaluated

22 June - 19 July 2020

Fellowship offers made

22 July 2020

Application Materials

Please use the proforma(s) noted below and submit by the required deadline.

Other useful links

Fellowship further particulars - see