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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Some wrinkles in Gauss’ Theorem: Mathematics of everyday objects from Pizza to Umbrellas and Parachutes - G. I. Taylor Lecture

Professor Dominic Vella

  • 18:00 - 19:00 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre

Thin objects are easy to deform, as we see in everyday life: a piece of paper crumples, while an umbrella may invert in the wind.  It is also clear that such thin structures  choose to bend, rather than compress/stretch, whenever possible. Gauss’ "Remarkable Theorem” severely restricts what types of pure bending deformations can happen with consequences from how best to eat pizza to the domed roofs of buildings. Nevertheless, as I will show, Gauss’ Theorem can be subtly subverted by objects that have a small, but non-zero, thickness.

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Building your life-support system; a new paradigm for human placental development

Professor Graham Burton

  • 18:00 - 19:00 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre

Growth during the intrauterine period is a critical determinant of life-long health. During this period the placenta acts as the baby’s life-support system, transferring nutrients and orchestrating maternal adaptations to the pregnancy. But what stimulates formation of the placenta? Development of the human placenta is precocious, and for many years was considered the pinnacle of evolutionary advance amongst mammals by providing early and intimate access to the maternal circulation. Over the last two decades our understanding of the physiology of early pregnancy has undergone radical revision. It is now appreciated that for the first three months the placenta is nourished by the secretory lining of the uterus rather than maternal blood. Furthermore, evidence from domestic species and recently derived human organoid cultures indicates that a signalling dialogue operates between the placenta and the uterus, increasing the release of growth factors and nutrients by the latter. In this way, the placenta stimulates its own development, ready to support the baby. Evidence for this concept will be presented, and the clinical implications discussed.

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