Kian Morrison, Poonam Madhale and Muna Hussein (credit: Dom Tyler, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust)

Common Myth - Debunked

You do not need a Masters degree in order to apply for a pre-doctoral fellowship!

What is a research fellowship?

A fellowship is a funding award that allows you to take time out of your substantive role or training programme to develop research skills and work on research projects.

Depending on your funder, you may have:

  • Protected time for doing research and/or developing research skills.
  • Your salary costs covered, so that you can keep being paid and your substantive role can be back-filled.
  • Time to undertake research training courses, with some fellowships providing funding.

Unlike grants, fellowships are personal funding awards, designed to help an individual to develop, and are as much about the applicant, the training programme and the host institution as they are about the research itself.

What are the different levels of fellowship?

Fellowships are generally offered at three different levels:

  • Pre-doctoral (i.e. before you have a PhD) – Pre-doctoral fellowships are an early ‘step’ on the fellowship pathway and they aim to create a strong foundation from which to build an academic or clinical academic career. The purpose of most pre-doctoral fellowships is to equip awardees with the skills and experience to access doctoral-level funding.
  • Doctoral (i.e. gaining a PhD) - Doctoral fellowship schemes provide funding to undertake a PhD by research. Some Doctoral fellowships also allow the awardee to undertake further professional development specifically related to the clinical part of their role.
  • Post-doctoral (i.e. once you have a PhD) – These more senior fellowships are for researchers who already have PhDs. They provide funding for clinical academic career development - to support the transition towards becoming a fully independent researcher.

Where can I look for funding?

There are several organisations that fund research fellowships for Radiographers. When deciding who to apply for funding from, it is really important to think about which scheme is the best ‘fit’ for you. This might involve thinking about things like:

  • What you want to do in your fellowship and what your aims are in the longer term.
  • What topic you want to research.
  • What the research priorities of the funder are.
  • The timing/ application window of the funder.
  • How much support is offered by the funder, both in terms of your development and experience but also in terms of the financial support they offer.
  • What the eligibility criteria are for the fellowship and how these align with your experience/project.

The most common fellowship funders for Radiographers are:

Common Funders

National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

The NIHR run pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships. The most common pathway for clinicians is the Health Education England (HEE) / NIHR Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic (ICA) Programme which provides research training awards for health and social care professionals who wish to develop careers that combine research and research leadership with continued practice and professional development.

The ICA Programme comprises four schemes, tailored to support the practitioner academic leaders of the future:

  • HEE Internship Scheme/ HEE Bridging scheme
  • HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF)
  • HEE/NIHR Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF)
  • HEE/NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF)

In 2023, the NIHR also announced 2 new funding schemes, as part of a wider portfolio of support for health and social care professionals. These are:

  • Pre-Application Support Fund: For those who require additional support to prepare a competitive application. Funding can be for up to 12 months.
  • Senior Clinical and Practitioner Research Award (SCPRA): The SCRPA provides up to 5 years of funding for
    post-docs to engage in research activities. It provides funding for 20-50% protected time from within the individual’s current role to cover salary, training, and development. The scheme can also help individuals requiring support to develop their track record as an academic leader which could enable them to submit a competitive application for further funding.

View the NIHR website to find out more about each fellowship, including applicant guidance notes, what support is offered and exactly when they open for applications.

College of Radiographers Industry Partnership Scheme (CoRIPS) Research Grant

The CoRIPS Research Grant funds projects related to any aspect of the science and practice of radiography. The aim is to support at least one grant for someone who has little or no previous experience of undertaking research and development projects.

Bids up to £5,000 for small projects and up to £10,000 for one larger project will be considered.  Matched funding or other institutional contributions would be advantageous.  Applicants are reminded that the College expects patient and public involvement to be factored in from the very first stages of research proposal development.

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK offers pre and post-doctoral research bursaries which provide funding to either start or progress a clinical academic career.

More information can be found on Cancer Research UK’s website.

Other funders and Cancer Charities

As well as those common funders listed above, there are many other organisations which offer fellowships. We've listed a few more below but this list isn't extensive. 


What should I do if I want to apply for a fellowship?

If you are thinking about applying for research fellowship then please contact the Incubator for help finding someone local in research for you to link up with. They will have helped people apply for fellowships before and will be a great source of support and guidance throughout your application.

Here are some other useful things you can do before applying: