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The School has several funding opportunities for those who want to start or continue their career in primary care research. Currently the School holds annual competitions for post-doctoral Fellowships, PhD Studentships and General Practice Career Progression Fellowships. Positions can be based at any of 9 School members.

PhD Studentships in Primary Care 2021 

Applications are invited from individuals with a strong academic record who wish to develop a career in primary care research.  Awards are offered at all nine Universities within the NIHR School for Primary Care Research: Bristol, Exeter, Keele, Manchester,  Nottingham, Oxford, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Southampton and University College London (UCL). Details of the specific research training opportunities and application processes at each University can be found in the guidance notes.

Awards will normally be taken up in October 2021. 

Applicants must have a first degree in a discipline relevant to primary care research and will be expected to complete a PhD/DPhil during the award period. The precise academic qualifications required depend on the university and training offered. This award will fund tuition fees to the value of home fees; students with overseas status are welcome to apply but will need to fund the remainder of their fees from alternative sources.  

The awards offer traditional project-specific training in areas of particular importance to primary care and awarded to applicants from diverse backgrounds including e.g., medical statistics, social sciences, health economics, health psychology).   

Studentship awards include fees and an annual tax-free stipend of £16,000 (plus a London weighting for QMUL and UCL and college fees in Oxford). 

Guidance notes for NIHR SPCR Studentships


 General Practitioner Career Progression Fellowship

Applications are no longer welcomed. A new competition will be launched in spring 2022.

Applications for part-time awards are invited from general practitioners with a strong academic record and a commitment to a career in academic primary care. The fellowship may be undertaken at any one of the nine universities within the NIHR School for Primary Care Research: Bristol, Exeter, Keele, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, QMUL, Southampton and University College London. 

Further particulars

Guidance notes

Application form

Deadline: 12 noon, 26 April

Interviews: 3 June

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Primary Health Care

The deadline has passed. The competition will open again in winter 2021.

These awards provide funding to cover the costs of a 24 month fellowship at one of the SPCR members.  Applicants should have a strong academic record and wish to develop a career in primary care research. The aim of these fellowships is for the fellow to follow an independent research project, publish their research and prepare grant applications to secure future funding (e.g. an NIHR fellowship). The fellowships are available from mid-2021.  Previous award holders are not eligible to apply for a second award.

Further particulars

Guidance notes

Application form

Deadline: 12 noon, 26 April

Interviews: 3 June

Is there any support available for patient and public involvement (PPI) in the development of my application?
Yes, your local Research Design Service may be available, or alternatively, you can contact the SPCR Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Manager (Esther van Vliet, to discuss the development of your PPI plans. Guidelines can be found in the PPI section of the SPCR website under resources for researcher.

What are the start dates for the fellowships?
Usually the GP Career Progression Fellowships start in August of the year you submitted the application. The Post-Doctoral Fellowship can start immediately if you have been successful and the contract has been signed. A second competition for Post-Doctoral Fellowships will run later this year for a start date in October. This competition is likely to be opened towards the end of June.

Will there be more opportunities to apply for a fellowship from the SPCR?
Yes there will be. The GP Career Progression Fellowship competition will run annually. The Post-Doctortoral Fellowship competition will be run twice a year, once with an expected start date in October, once with a start date in April.

Questions specifically for GP Career Progression Fellowship

Can I apply for this Fellowship while still in GP training?
No, you won't be eligible to apply for the Fellowship while still in training. You need to be qualified and have a CCT number. The SPCR will repeat this Fellowship competition annually and you might be able to apply at a later stage in your career.

Questions specifically for Post-Doctoral Fellowship

Will the SPCR Post-Doctoral Fellowship be considered as an Advanced Fellowship by the NIHR?
No, it won't be. As such, the SPCR fellowship won't reduce the number of times you can hold an NIHR Advanced Fellowship.

Do I need to have submitted my PhD thesis in a particular timeframe to be eligible to apply for the post-doctoral fellowship?
No, the NIHR has removed the requirement to have submitted your PhD within a particular timeframe to not disadvantage applicants who have had some kind of leave since their thesis submission.

Can I apply for a post-doctoral fellowship if I held one during a previous SPCR contract?
No, researchers who already held a launching fellowship of the SPCR are not eligible to apply for a post-doctoral fellowship.

How is the award value of £145k calculated?
This is based on spine point 33 of the 2020 HEI pay scales, i.e. £36,914.  The award includes funds for NI, pension, overheards (for the host institution) and for training and research costs and is for 24 months.


Can I be at any stage in my post-doc career to apply for the post-doctoral fellowship?
Yes, but keep in mind that the post-doctoral fellowships are fixed amounts of £145k for the whole duration of your fellowship. Usually applicants identify themselves with one of the following profiles:

  • Recently completed or be about to be awarded a PhD, but haven’t yet established yourself as an independent researcher
  • Established yourself as an independent researcher or you are in the process of doing so, but are not yet recognised as an international leader in your field
  • Transitioned into applied health research from a basic science background or re-established your research career following a significant career break