Trinity College Cambridge Junior Research Fellowships


A Research Fellowship provides an opportunity to spend up to four years in Cambridge undertaking post-doctoral research or scholarly work at an early stage of an academic career; this research may be on a topic essentially of the Fellow’s own choice however, for an experimental scientist suitable arrangements must be made with one of the laboratories in the University.

The College wishes to encourage applications from a wide range of candidates and the Fellowships are available in all branches of University studies. Nevertheless, those who contemplate applying for a Fellowship at Trinity should realise that candidates will be judged against the very highest academic criteria. In particular, the standard of research expected for election to a Fellowship is much higher than that which is merely adequate for a ‘good’ PhD. Potential candidates could usefully consult their research supervisor or some other knowledgeable person before deciding whether to apply.

The basic obligation of a Research Fellow is to engage full-time in research and its dissemination. Like all Fellows, Research Fellows are welcome – indeed encouraged – to participate fully in the life and activities of the College. Research Fellows are not required to contribute to teaching, although a Fellow who wishes to do so may undertake, for extra payment, some limited teaching within the College and University. The number of Research Fellows elected varies from year to year depending on the strength of competition; in recent years it has been between 5 and 8.

Emoluments, Rights and Privileges

Fellows under Title A who reside within the University precincts and devote themselves to study and research receive a stipend. For each year spent doing research in Cambridge, a Research Fellow receives a stipend from the College of £26,879.00 (reviewable in line with academic stipends). However, a Fellow who is registered for a further course of study in the United Kingdom (e.g. a PhD degree) will normally receive, instead of a stipend, a student maintenance grant at the rate of £19,716 per annum until completion of the course of study. A Fellow who is following a comparable course of study outside the United Kingdom will receive a stipend of £25,524 per annum. The stipend or maintenance grant will be reduced in respect of any emolument received from a source outside College. In addition, a Research Fellow enjoys all the other privileges of a Fellow – if single, a residential set of rooms in the College free of rent (if available and subject to certain conditions); otherwise, a housing allowance of £6,660 per annum and the opportunity to rent a College-owned flat; free meals at the High Table; access to funds for the support of research and attendance at conferences; and use of all the College’s facilities.

 Taking up a Fellowship

The decisive meeting to choose the new Fellows will take place on 13 January 2020, and applicants will be informed of the results immediately afterwards.  The formal election of new Title A Fellows will be on Monday 5 October 2020, followed by a ceremony in Chapel on Tuesday 6 October 2020 to mark the admission of all new Fellows to the College. It will however be possible for those who so choose to take up the emoluments and privileges of the position, without the status of Fellow, before then (a ‘preliminary benefit period’), in return for foregoing their entitlement to the stipend and privileges of a Fellow for an equivalent period at the end of their Fellowship. It is also possible, subject to the approval of the Council, to postpone or interrupt enjoyment of the stipend and privileges of a Fellow. Subject to detailed provisions in the College’s Ordinances, postponement or interruptions may amount to up to two years. Those studying for a PhD outside the UK might wish, if necessary, to apply for a deferral in order to complete their studies. They would then become eligible for the higher rate of stipend on arrival in Cambridge.  Applicants from outside the European Economic Area who do not have an automatic right to work in the United Kingdom should note that, although they would still be elected to a Fellowship on 6 October 2020, employment and the payment of stipend cannot commence until a Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued by the College and appropriate leave to enter or remain has been granted by the Home Office. For further details see the note for applicants from outside the EEA.


Trinity Junior Research (‘Title A’) Fellowships are aimed at you if you are at the beginning of your academic career. In most cases, the fellowship will be your first substantial, paid academic teaching or research post. If you are from the UK, you will usually be at the end of your third or fourth (or, more rarely, second) year of PhD work. If you are from elsewhere, you may be completing a longer doctoral course.

Our formal eligibility rule is simply that the candidates must be on a PhD course or its equivalent, or have submitted a PhD thesis or its equivalent no more than one year before the deadline for submission of fellowship dissertations for those shortlisted (Tuesday 31 October 2019). By ‘or its equivalent’ we mean a course at the same level as a PhD, but we are also willing to accept as eligible candidates who are not taking a formal course, if they are at the same stage in their careers as if they were taking or had just finished a PhD.

Any candidate who wishes to claim that he or she is taking the equivalent of a PhD must obtain approval from the Secretary to the Electors before applying.

Eligibility Form

When applying, candidates will be asked to confirm their eligibility by selecting either

  • I am a doctoral research student, or
  • I have submitted my doctoral dissertation on 1 November 2018 or later. (NB Submission is the date when the dissertation was given in to be examined, not the date of the viva.)

If your course is not for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), you must give the date when the Secretary of the Electors gave approval of the equivalence of your course.

Work Required

You are asked to submit a piece of work (c. 10,000 words) and references for the initial, shortlisting stage. This piece of work should enable referees to gauge so far as possible the importance of the research which, if shortlisted, you will present in the dissertation. You should therefore avoid submitting a piece which, although highly polished, is very narrow in scope. Candidates who have had an article published often decide to submit it, whereas some other, unpublished piece of work might have given a better impression of the range and ambition of their work and would have been more likely to secure them a place on the shortlist.

You may if you wish submit a longer piece of work, such as a thesis or draft thereof, so long as you identify a single part of no more than 10,000 words for the short-listers to read. If short-listed, you would be permitted to submit the same work, a revision of it, or something different provided that its scope and topic are properly explained in the initial application.

If you are shortlisted, you will be required to submit a complete or near-complete dissertation.  Most candidates who have not yet submitted their PhD theses submit drafts of them as fellowship dissertations, but if you are in this position, you are free to submit whatever work you wish.  Similarly, if you have already submitted your PhD, but began your PhD course after 31 August 2015, you may submit your PhD thesis, or a revised version of it, or something else.

If, however, you have submitted your PhD and began your PhD course before 31 August 2015, you must submit as your fellowship dissertation your PhD thesis – either that submitted for examination or that officially accepted, after correction – as the approved doctoral thesis.

Please note:  A candidate is considered to have begun a PhD course (or its equivalent) when he or she begins the course which will in fact, if successfully followed, lead to the award of a PhD (or its equivalent), even if he or she was not registered for a PhD (or its equivalent) at that point.

Your application and the work submitted for shortlisting must be in English. Normally, your fellowship dissertations should also be in English, or, if you are obliged to submit your PhD thesis, which is written in a different language, it should be accompanied by an English translation. You may, however, request to be allowed to submit a dissertation in a foreign language without translation. Your request will normally be granted if the language in question is one which is generally known by scholars competent in the subject of the dissertation, and practicable arrangements can be made for the fair treatment of the dissertation in the selection process. You must make such a request to the Secretary to the Electors before applying or at the time of application.

There is no formal word limit for fellowship dissertations, but in most cases candidates are unlikely to help their case by submitting a very long piece (over about 100,000 words). Where a dissertation – whether or not it is identical to a PhD or equivalent thesis – is substantially over 100,000 words, candidates will be required indicate which sections, amounting in total to fewer than 100,000 words, a referee should out of preference read. We shall require referees to read only the designated portions, although the whole dissertation will be made available to them.

Election Procedure

Eligible candidates are elected to Research Fellowships at Trinity on the basis of the quality of the research they submit, and the evidence that it provides of high originality and promise. A short-listing procedure (which demands written work and references) is used to select the strongest candidates, who will then be required to submit a dissertation on a subject connected with some branch or branches of University studies, and also a separate statement of about 2,000 words. For full details of what this statement should contain, see the procedures for Short-Listing and Election.

At their final meetings the Electors will have before them reports from several referees on the dissertation which each short-listed candidate has submitted. There are no interviews.


This Fellowship is aimed at those who have been engaged in full-time research long enough to be able to demonstrate their exceptional talent: usually, therefore, those who are in the second, third year or later year of their full-time doctoral research or, in some cases, already have a PhD. Research Fellows normally obtain their doctorates during the early stage of their Research Fellowship, and move on to pursue post-doctoral research. This Fellowship does not, therefore, require a doctorate to be obtained before taking up the position. It is not, however, intended as a studentship for commencing research for a PhD degree. A Research Fellow who is registered for the PhD degree is encouraged to complete the requirements of the degree as soon as possible after election.

Over the past 6 years, more than 80% of Trinity Junior Research Fellows have gone on to obtain Faculty positions at prestigious universities worldwide, including Birkbeck, Bristol, CalTech, Cambridge, Chicago, Davis, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Geneva, Hamburg, Oxford, Paris 1, SOAS, St Andrews, Tel Aviv, UCL, KCL and Yale.

How to apply

Please note that you must complete these four steps before your application can be considered.

  1. Register: enter your personal and academic details
  2. Submit supporting documents
  3. Arrange for your research supervisor to submit a statement
  4. Arrange for two references from testimonial referees (other than your research supervisor)

The deadline for submitting your application in full is midnight on Thursday 29 August 2019.

A short-list of candidates will be drawn up in the week beginning 30 September 2019. Only those placed on the short-list will be invited to submit a dissertation and a 2,000 word summary, for which the deadline is midnight on Wednesday 30 October 2019.

Application date
Up to 4 years
Social sciences