We have prepared a series of questions and answers that you may find useful in deciding whether a Fellowship or Advanced Fellowship in the Department of Physics at Oxford University is right for you. The policies outlined here below apply as of 31 October 2011.
Your Fellowship in the Department of Physics
Fellowship or Advanced Fellowship?
Several funding bodies offer short Fellowship programmes of 3 years or less, which are often intended to be extensions of your training. Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships are an example of short Fellowships with a duration between 1 and 2 years. The Physics Department welcomes prospective candidates for short Fellowships. If you are interested in applying for one of these Fellowships, you should contact a relevant Academic in your file of research, who will verify whether your interests can be matched here in Oxford and, if appropriate, will assist you with the application process.
Most UK funding bodies, including EPSRC, STFC and the Royal Society, as well as the European Research Council offer longer fellowships of 5 years or more. Many of the FAQ here below refer specifically to these Advanced Fellowships, here defined by the criterion of being for at least 5 years.
What status will I have in the Physics Department?
In the Physics Department, Advanced Research Fellows have a status in many ways equivalent to that of permanent academics and are expected to develop their own independent research programme.
Space, facilities and people
Will I receive adequate laboratory and office space?
If your application is endorsed by the Department and accepted by the Funding Body, we undertake (in writing if required by the funding body) to provide you with adequate office and laboratory space for your group.
What about access to facilities?
The Physics Department has a number of shared research facilities, including sample growth and characterization, nanofabrication, low-temperature& high-field setups, a state-of-the-art X-ray laboratory, excellent mechanical and electronic workshops and many more. In general, there is a daily charge to access these facilities, so you should make sure you request adequate funding in your proposal (our Grant Team and Research Services will assist you in the process). Internal access grant allocations for a limited amount of access can be applied for if you have new ideas that were not foreseen at the time of the proposal.
Will I be able to supervise students and post-docs?
Advanced Fellows are encouraged to supervise graduate students and post-doctoral research assistants (PDRAs).
Teaching and Administration
What will my teaching/administration load be?
Fellows usually have a much reduced teaching and administration load in the Department. Different Funding Bodies have different rules to which we are bound, but in general you will be expected to spend no more than 8 hours a week on non-research activities (unless you volunteer for more!)
Will I be able to participate in the governance of the Department and Subdepartment and influence the decision-making process?
Fellows are invited to participate in the governance of Subdepartments (e.g., Condensed Matter Physics, Particle Physics etc.), and in some cases one of their representatives is a member of the Sub-departmental Executive or Advisory Committee. Advanced Fellows employed above a certain grade are eligible to become elected member of the Physics Management Committee - the principal body of governance of the whole Department - after the third year of their Fellowships.
Applying for funding
When should I tell you I would like to apply for a Fellowship?
As soon as possible, please! There are a number of steps we will need to go through to approve your application and help that we would like to give you. We advise you to contact us at least a month before the funder's deadline and earlier in cases where the funder operates a quota per university (e.g. STFC Rutherford Fellowship). Email grants [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk (grants (at) physics.ox.ac.uk) identifying the scheme to which you want to apply and anyone in Physics with whom you have already been in contact.
Will I be able to apply for internal funding?
A limited amount of local "seed corn" funding is available to Advanced Fellows and other academics on a competitive basis to foster new research ideas.
Will I receive assistance in applying for additional grants?
If this is allowed by the ruiles of your Fellowship, a Research Facilitator may be able to assist you in the process of writing grants to obtain additional funding, for example, from the EU Commission, the ERC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council - UK.
What will my career prospects be at the end of the Fellowship?
Holders of Advanced Research Fellowships in the Physics Department are generally expected to seek permanent academic posts during their Fellowships, both at Oxford and elsewhere. Previous experience indicates that their applications are extremely well received, and that most Fellows will be appointed to permanent posts, not infrequently by some of the most prestigious Departments and research institutions both in the UK and worldwide. During the course of the tenure of your Fellowship, one or more new permanent positions are likely to be advertised in Oxford Physics. These positions are usually targeted to particular areas of Physics, but are often open to exceptional candidates from the whole subfield. Strategic decisions about specific areas to be targeted are made well in advance and are shared with all potential candidates, so that appropriate career choices can be made in a timely manner. Career advice will be provided at all times as part of the annual interviews with the Head of Subdepartment, and will be pursued in particular towards the end of the Fellowship.
What kind of mentoring and career development advice will I receive?
New Fellows will be assigned a more experienced academic as a mentor for the duration of their Fellowship. They are also invited (but not obliged) to attend annual interviews with the Head of Subdepartment, where their progress is reviewed and new objectives are discussed.