Updated 20 March 2020.
What is a POST fellowship? Who can apply for it? Who pays for it? This page has answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about POST fellowships.
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How will Coronavirus affect my fellowship?
We will continue recruiting for all currently open schemes. Interviews will take place remotely. Successful applicants will be offered fellowships to start the earliest in September 2020. We are also expecting to continue recruiting fellows throughout the year, as various schemes open for applications. We will be releasing information on future application rounds as it becomes available. We are currently building our capacity to ensure that all work can be carried out remotely.
What is a POST fellowship?
A POST fellowship is a placement facilitated by POST, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Fellows usually work with POST but can work with other teams within the UK Parliament, such as the Libraries and the Select Committees.
PhD fellowships, typically last for three months and are open to students registered for a PhD in a UK institution. Some schemes, such as the Wellcome Trust scheme, are open to researchers at any career grade.
During a POST fellowship, fellows will assists POST or team in parliament with core work such as writing a briefing for parliamentarians, assisting with a Select Committee Inquiry, or carrying out research.
PhD fellowships are funded through a series of schemes that accept applications on an annual basis.
I need to relocate. Will I be given accommodation?
No. Funders have a budget allocated for relocation costs but all fellows will have to make their own arrangements.
Can I get additional financial aid?
Some schemes can set aside funding for childcare costs, or to assist with other caring duties. If you require additional funding please get in touch with the funder of the scheme you are interested in applying to.
Will my travel expenses be covered?
POST will cover your travel expenses if they are business related and your supervisor has formally agreed to. If you have relocated, you should expect to budget your commuting costs out of your fellowship funding. If you haven’ relocated but are instead commuting from a different city you should check directly with your funder.
How can the Fellowship be adjusted to meet my needs?
POST is committed to equality of opportunity. We will make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabilities or conditions don’t exclude prospective fellows from this opportunity. Please let us know as soon as possible to discuss how we can meet your requirements.
POST can also offer part-time fellowships and flexible working.
Can I apply for a POST fellowship more than once?
Yes. You can apply for the same scheme again in the following round of applications, if you were not successful the first time and if you still meet the criteria. You can also apply to multiple schemes within the same academic year, as long as you meet each scheme’s criteria.
What is security vetting?
Parliament requires everyone working in parliament to pass Her Majesty’s Government Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) pre-employment checks and a Counter-Terrorist Check This will be arranged following a successful application. Fellowships are conditional on obtaining security clearance.
Do I need to be a UK citizen?
No, but you do need to have the right to work in the UK as POST fellowships count towards the maximum number of hours work that you can do outside of your PhD studies. Some international students may have working restrictions as part of their visa that will require undertaking the Fellowship part-time. However, we will discuss this with all successful applicants on a case-by-case basis.
Do I need to live in the UK?
No, but if you haven’t been living in the UK for the last three years it could be harder to undergo a meaningful security check. Security clearance usually takes six to twelve weeks, but can take longer. If you haven’t been living in the UK for the last three years you might be asked to secure a criminal record check from your previous country of residence, further postponing clearance. All fellowship offers are conditional to obtaining security check.
Can I apply in the final months of my PhD or after my PhD?
Most schemes allow applicants to submit their application within a grace period after their PhD funding has expired. For example the Royal Society of Chemistry scheme accommodates applications where PhD funding finished in the six months leading up to the application deadline. Make sure you check the eligibility criteria of the schemes you are interested in.
Do I need experience in policy writing or science communication?
A background in policy writing or science communication is not a requirement for the fellowships. But it can provide an advantage in the technical part of the application process, the writing of a sample POSTnote.
Can I write my application POSTnote on my PhD topic?
You can write your application POSTnote on any topic you want. However choosing a topic outside your research focus can show that you are comfortable researching areas outside your expertise. When choosing a topic make sure it is relevant to the UK Parliament. Ask yourself, would POST publish this in the next 6 to 12 months?
Where will my fellowship be based?
Most fellows end up at the UK Parliament, in Westminster working with POST on a POSTnote or POSTbrief. Occasionally fellows will be seconded to a Select Committee, the Commons Library or the Lords Library. This means that you could end up producing library briefings and insights, handling direct enquiries from MPs or Lords and even assisting with Select Committee Inquiries.
What will I do during my POST fellowship?
If you are placed with POST, you will typically help us write a POSTnote. POSTnotes are short, accessible, fully referenced and peer-reviewed reports. Members of the Commons and the Lords read them to get information on emerging research. To write a POSTnote you will need to interview a range of stakeholders from research, industry, government, the third sector and other stakeholder groups. You will have to prioritise, balance and eventually synthesise the information you get from stakeholders and your own literature review. You will incorporate feedback from your POST supervisor. Your supervisor will support you during this process and help you produce a high quality report in line with POST standards. Finally you will actively help us promote your work once it is published. Beyond this core work, you will have the opportunity to:
- attend, assist with and potentially organise events at the UK Parliament,
- get first class training on written and oral communications,
- deepen your understanding of how research is used in policy
- and forge important connections.
If I get a fellowship can I choose my POSTnote topic?
You will not chose your POSTnote topic, and it’s unlikely that you will work on your current topic of research. But some times, fellows do work in related fields. More often than not, fellows are allocated a topic in a field that is entirely alien to them. This is why interviews are so vital to the POSTnote process. We don’t expect you to be an expert in your topic, but to find the experts and assess the evidence they provide, in a balanced and impartial way. Throughout your fellowship your will be supported and supervised by expert advisers.
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