BES Policy Fellowship

Applications are now closed for 2017.

Whitehall sign
Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC/MOD

2017 BES Policy Fellowship with UK Government

Applications closed on Monday 7 August

The British Ecological Society is committed to making the best scientific evidence available to decision-makers, and supporting members to build their policy engagement skills and enhance the impact of their work.

With funding of up to £20,000, The BES Policy Fellowship will offer a mid-career ecologist (at least five years post-PhD) the chance to spend up to six months on a placement embedded within a government department or agency, applying their scientific expertise to a practical policy challenge. The 2017 Fellowship will be hosted by Defra’s Environment Analysis Unit.

The Fellowship will provide a prestigious opportunity for BES members to gain first-hand experience of working within government, improving their policy knowledge and awareness, developing their science communication skills, and building their professional networks at an exciting and crucial time for environmental policy. The Fellowship will also help to foster wider links between the ecological and policy communities, and support policy development informed by outstanding science.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, critical decisions will be made about the future of our environmental policy framework, with opportunities to develop innovative new approaches. Gathering, synthesising and communicating the best scientific evidence – from how to maximise the environmental benefits of land management schemes, through to how to promote ecosystem resilience – is essential to ensuring the success of any policy decisions. The 2017 BES Policy Fellowship with the UK Government offers the chance to be at the heart of this process. You will spend up to six months embedded within Defra’s Environment Analysis Unit, the team tasked with pulling together science and data from across the organisation to support policymaking.


A maximum of £20,000 is available from the BES to support the Fellowship. Applicants are asked to specify and justify the amount of funding requested and how it would be spent.

Eligible expenditure includes:

  • Salary costs for the applicant, including national insurance and superannuation, but not estates or indirect costs.
  • Travel and subsistence, including accommodation.

Facilities, including laptop and office space (hot desking) will be provided by Defra.

Application Procedure

Applications will close at 9:00 on Monday 7 August. Alongside the application form, candidates will be asked to provide:

  • A CV.
  • A letter of support from the Head of Department/School at the applicant’s home institution indicating that they agree to the applicant taking time away from their normal duties to complete the Fellowship according to the requirements and conditions set out above.
  • An equality and diversity monitoring form.

Initial shortlisting will be conducted by a review panel consisting of the BES Policy Committee Chair, one representative of Defra, the BES Policy Manager and two other members of Policy Committee. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview, with the interview panel comprising the BES Policy Manager, one representative of Defra and one member of the Policy Committee.

Applicants will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Motivation for and interest in the Fellowship.
  • Science communication, collaboration and team working skills relevant to policy engagement.
  • Scientific expertise relevant to the placement project.
  • Skills necessary to widely share the outputs and learning of the Fellowship.
  • Strong research record.

Please read the full fellowship information before completing your application

Download the full Fellowship information

Institutions: why encourage your staff to apply for the BES Policy Fellowship?

The BES Policy Fellowship offers mid-career ecologists a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience of working in a policy environment, enhancing their professional development. The Fellow will develop a greater understanding of the science-policy interface, and enhanced understanding of pathways to research impact, vital knowledge that can be shared with colleagues at a particularly opportune time to engage with and inform policymaking. Policy engagement is valued by researchers and institutions, with 20% of impact case studies in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) making a contribution to ‘informing government policy”.

In addition, the placement will provide an opportunity to raise the profile of the research work of the Fellow and their home institution within a core UK Government department, creating potential for further research collaboration. Participants in similar schemes such as NERC Policy Placements have gone on to develop lasting collaborations with policy hosts. With permission, the Fellow’s home institution will be named in all publicity materials and outputs generated from the placement.