Researcher-led initiative awards - NOW CLOSED FOR APPLICATIONS!

Would you like funding to design professional development here at the University of Exeter?

Would you like funding to work with your research peers to initiate, design and deliver new professional development activities?

Would you like funding to help build networking activities in your research area?

The Researcher Development and Research Culture team has an annual fund to support the development and cascading of personal, professional and career management skills by and for postgraduate research students and early career research staff across the University of Exeter.

The Researcher-led initiative awards are intended to enable postgraduate research students and early career research staff from the University of Exeter to be proactive and empowered to deliver new professional development activities for their peers that will develop the skills and experience needed to progress their careers.

The awards support short-term, well-defined initiatives that develop and deliver transferable skills training experiences and/or resources to the applicants’ peers across departments. Collaborative applications are encouraged. Applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis and all applicants will receive feedback after the awards have been allocated.

Funding is available for applications of up to £1000 per award.

We welcome applications that are broadly centred around one of the following themes:

  • Non-academic career development
  • Academic career development
  • Professional development of researchers in the Humanities and/or Social Sciences
  • Promoting the development of women in the sciences 
  • Enhancing discipline specific training opportunities
  • Establishing or enhancing early career research networks and research culture

PLEASE NOTE: the deadline for applications has now passed. Many thanks to all those who have submitted applications, we will be informing all applicants of the outcomes of the judging panel on the 10th December.

Overview of criteria:

  • Lead applicants must be Postgraduate Research Students or University of Exeter staff on Research Only contracts, grades E, F or G
  • Beneficiaries of the initiatives must be Postgraduate Research Students and/or University of Exeter staff on Research Only contracts on grade E, F or G. NB: Applications from Postgraduate Research Students must include other Postgraduate Research Students as beneficiaries and applications from Research Staff must include other University of Exeter staff on Research Only contracts on grade E, F or G as beneficiaries.
  • The initiatives must be completed by the 30th June, 2019
  • Successful applicants must agree to fulfil the responsibilities outlined in the Award Holder Responsibilities document
  • The proposed activities must directly benefit parties beyond the named applicants.
  • We cannot fund activity that is essential for any already-funded project’s success – activities must be additional to that planned for existing funded activity
  • Activities should not replicate those which are already offered by the University
  • Activities need to be advertised through the Researcher Development team
  • We would welcome activities that are inter-disciplinary in nature

PLEASE NOTE: the deadline for applications has now passed. Many thanks to all those who have submitted applications, we will be informing all applicants of the outcomes of the judging panel on the 10th December.



RLIs open for applications

1st October

RLI applications close

25th November 23:59 GMT

RLI Awarding panel to decide successful applications

7th December

Decision to RLI applicants

10th December

‘Award Holder Responsibilities’ meetings with successful applicants and funding agreements signed

13th December and 17th December

Start RLIs

2nd January

RLIs need to be completed

30th June

Final reports from award holders submitted to Researcher Development and Research Culture.

31st July


A new postgraduate journal supported by the University of Exeter’s College of Humanities and Doctoral College’s Researcher Development team.

Our decision to start a new peer-review journal for Postgraduate Research and Taught students in the disciplines of English, Creative Writing and Film at the University of Exeter. We named it Exclamat!on: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and set no thematic constraints for the first issue, so as to appeal to the widest range of contributors possible. Our initial mission for the journal was simple. We sought to create an innovative space in which PGRs and PGTs could engage in current debates and interdisciplinary discussions; we wanted to bring together divergent and creative ideas, and fundamentally showcase work via a new publishing platform within the Department of English. We have recently published the second volume of Exclamat!on, which successfully builds on the success of the first volume. Read our blog to find out more.

Institute of Health Research focus days 2017 & 2018

Words of wisdom were thrown out like sweeties to attendees at the Institute of Health Research Early Career Researcher Network’s recent Focus Day. The theme being “Things the University is Doing that you Don’t Know About, that you Might Want to Know About, that Might Help you Progress your Career. Plus Helpful Career (and Life) Advice from People who’ve Been Where you are and Survived”. Or something like that.

On arrival to the Focus Day, attendees were given a copy of “Self-care for academics: a poetic invitation to reflect and resist” by Siobhan O’Dwyer, Sarah Pinto and Sharon McDonough. After a gentle start to the day, with colouring and refreshments, the thirty-five attendees were inundated with useful advice on a range of career-related topics, including: The Exeter Academic and how it relates to progression and promotion, the University of Exeter Doctoral College and how it supports development for early career researchers, the purpose and achievements of the Positive Working Environment Board and how to get the most out of mentoring and other one-to-one career support.

But equally valuable was the insight into the somewhat stochastic and unexpected career paths of those who have, somehow, navigated the world of the early career researcher and made it to the heady heights of mid-career researcher or even senior academic.

For more details of the Focus Day and the Institute of Health Research Early Career Researcher Network, see our blog post.

Machine Learning

Recent technological advances, such as high-throughput sequencing and remote sensing, provide life scientists with large and complex data sets. This data require several layers of computational processing, from data cleaning and preparation to employing rigorous statistical modelling and machine learning.

Typically, such analyses cannot be performed using off-the-shelf software. Instead scientists need to write custom code to create and automate their data analytical pipelines.

Python is a scripted high-level programming language that is arguably becoming the de facto standard for exploratory and interactive scientific research. The “swiss army knife” for researchers, Python is an easy-to-learn and versatile language that can be used to perform a wide variety of tasks: numerical computations, statistical analysis, data visualisation, image processing, video analysis and more. Moreover, Python is open-source and cross-platform, making software projects easy to disseminate and reproduce, without the need for expensive licences.

We are organising a series of workshops that introduce life scientists to Python. We will present the core aspects of the language and draw examples from a variety of life science applications to show how biological data can be analysed using simple scripts.

All the supporting workshop material has been publicly uploaded onto GitHub., for more details please contact 

The Academic Woman

‘The Academic Woman’ is a global network for all women in higher education and has been instrumental in bringing women together across the whole of the university with our ‘Inspiring Women’ seminar series which ran during last term from March – June 2018. We held 6 sessions which were lunchtime sessions with refreshments from 12-1pm starting with the newly appointed Head of Department for Management, Prof Alex Gerbasi and finishing with a talk from Dr Sawsan Khuri, Associate from the Medical School. All of the seminars were well attended and created lively discussions around issues affected women in academia in both their personal and professional lives. Attendees came from varied disciplines and included senior management and UG students.

Events were promoted via social media where we now have nearly 2000 followers, through our Facebook page and LinkedIn site. For more details, see our webpage.