Research Studentships

Online Application Form

Funding for research of the highest quality

The Cambridge Philosophical Society has a fund for the award of studentships or grants for research in the natural sciences or any branch of technology or mathematics.  The purpose of these awards is to provide for the continuation of an exceptionally promising piece of research beyond the usual standard of the PhD or alternatively to allow extra time for the completion of a PhD thesis which has been delayed by circumstances outside the applicant’s control.  

Applications for Research Studentships must now be submitted using the CASC-FAS* online application system. We will no longer be able to accept applications by email or hard copy. (*Colleges Administrative Consortium – Fellowship Application System).

Please ensure you read the following notes to research applicants before you commence your application using the CASC-FAS log in:

Awards will be tenable for a period not exceeding three months.  The level of demand for awards is such that it is unlikely that more than £750 a month will be awarded other than in exceptional cases. The Society cannot make any contributions towards fees, travelling expenses, etc. Applicants who have previously received a Research Studentship award from the Cambridge Philosophical Society are not eligible to apply for further awards.

The Society will not expect to contribute to over-run expenses in cases where it should have been clear from the outset that the project would require more time than was covered by the duration of the main funding. Similarly, the Society will not ordinarily cover costs associated with delays arising from a planned move of a department or laboratory: these costs should be factored in by the relevant department during the planning process, and covered by them. The Society’s Studentships are only meant to apply to cases of objective misfortune that could not have been predicted, or to fund extensions to promising research work beyond what was originally envisaged when the project was set up.  It is the responsibility of applicants and their referees to provide the necessary assurance of compliance with this policy, otherwise the application will be rejected.

Applicants for awards must be Fellows of the Philosophical Society of at least one year’s standing at the closing date for applications. They must be Registered Graduate Students of the University, though in exceptional circumstances this latter condition may be waived.  In making awards the Society will have regard to the specific piece of research proposed, to the proven ability of the applicant, and to the other sources of funds for which the applicant may be eligible. Applicants should describe the aims of their research and report on progress to date including a full explanation for any delays that have occurred.

The remit of the Philosophical Society is ‘to promote research in all branches of science and to encourage the communication of the results of scientific research’.  If there is any doubt whether your field of work qualifies under this rubric, for example, if your departmental affiliation is not necessarily scientific (e.g. Geography, Education, Archaeology or the Judge Business School), your statement must demonstrate that your particular research project counts as “science” and you must ensure that your supervisor and referee reinforce this.

Each applicant should ensure that their application is supported by a supervisor’s report and one other referee (the referee should be an academic tutor or person of appropriate standing who knows the applicant in a professional capacity).  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that both the supervisor and second referee provide their references by the closing date using the CASC-FAS online system.  Applications that are not submitted using the CASC-FAS by the closing date, or are incomplete will not be considered.

Applications for awards must be submitted to the CASC-FAS competition website by 30 Sep 2022.  Successful applicants will receive their award after application to the Treasurer of the Society and they will be required to furnish a report of the work carried out during the tenure of the award.

Applicants should also seek other possible sources of funds, including their College and Department. Details of the funding body that has supported you during your three years' research should also be given.

For the purposes of the new CASC-FAS application system please read the word “competition” as “grant application” where applicable. 


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What we call the Milky Way, our Galaxy, has been the focus of myth, story and study in every society with a recorded history for millennia. Understanding its structure defeated Isaac Newton. One hundred years ago it was realized that the Milky Way is just one amongst a Universe of galaxies. With electronics, digital systems, and spacecraft we have learned how to measure the structure and assembly history of the Milky Way Galaxy over its 13 billion year history, even identifying ancient stars from the earliest proto-structures to form. We quantify the formation of the chemical elements over time and their distribution in space. We use dynamics to weigh the unseen. We can calculate the future of the Milky Way until it ends its existence as an isolated Galaxy, merging with Andromeda some 5 billion years from now, and the death of the Sun a few billion years after that. This lecture will tell that story. 

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Banks, Bunkers, and Backup: Securing Crop Diversity from the Cold War through the Internet Age

Professor Helen Anne Curry

  • 18:30 - 19:30 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre

Present-day efforts to preserve endangered crop varieties emphasize "safety duplication"—a strategy better known as backup—as an essential step in conservation. Important collections of seeds or other plant genetic materials are copied, in whole or part, and sent to physically distant sites to provide security in the case of local disaster. This talk traces the history of seed banking to understand how, why and with what consequences copying collections came to occupy this central place. The intertwined histories of the central long-term seed storage facility of the United States (opened in 1958) and the international seed conservation system developed in the 1970s reveal how changing conceptions of security, linked to changing economic, political and technological circumstances, transformed both the guiding metaphors and the practices of seed conservation. Seed banking gave way to seed backup: whereas early long-term cold storage facilities vested security in robust infrastructures and the capacities of professional staff, between the 1960s and 1990s, this configuration gave way to one in which security was situated in copies rather than capacities. This history ultimately raises questions about the security promised and achieved through present-day infrastructures for crop genetic resources conservation.

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