Early Career and Research Staff Committee (ECARS)

The College of Social Sciences and the College of Arts and Law have over 100 early career academics and researchers, including early career Lecturers, Research Fellows, Research Associates and Teaching Fellows, who make a major contribution to research and teaching within the Colleges. This page provides information, support, and resources to this community (and beyond), and provides contact details for the CoSS and CAL Early Career and Research Staff (ECARS) committee, who represent ECARS within the Colleges.

Forthcoming events & funding

Many events are held throughout the year, either organised by the committee or relevant for ECARS. Examples of such events include research speed dating; induction session for new ECARS staff; writing days; funding workshops; and skills workshops. These events are advertised via our mailing list (email ecars@contacts.bham.ac.uk to be added to the list) or our Twitter feed


CoSS Essentials: Building Your Research Funding Profile and Track Record

Tuesday 17 November, 12:00-13:30, via Zoom

Eventbrite link to be circulated for registration.

External grant funding can be a great enabler for research careers by providing the time, money, and collaborations to pursue new and exciting avenues of work. This event will showcase colleagues’ early experiences of bidding for funding and the opportunities and challenges they have encountered along the way. Detailed information about funding routes and support will also be provided, and attendees are welcome to contribute to the discussions and share their own experiences during the Q&A sessions.


Raising Your Research Profile

Friday 27 November, 10:00-11:30, via Zoom

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/raising-your-research-profile-tickets-123690456485

This short but very powerful session will help you understand how other researchers, funders and prospective collaborators view your publication profile on the three most influential databases.  As part of the session you will receive a personalised mini action plan which suggests 5 minute fixes to disambiguate author records and ensure that you are getting credit for your publications.

This session will also feature an introduction to the support offered by the Advanced Research Computing team, including BEAR datashare.


ECARS Writing Retreats

Continuing our series of writing retreats, opportunities for colleagues to write and work in a supportive and encouraging environment, sharing goals and accountability – with time, of course, for coffee and discussion!

Thursday 12 November, 09:00-13:30, via Zoom

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ecars-writing-retreat-november-2020-tickets-123676251999

Friday 11 December, 13:00-16:30, via Zoom

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ecars-writing-retreat-december-2020-tickets-123677732427

Meet the Committee

Early career staff are represented in the college by the Early Career and Research Staff (ECARS) committee, which consists of early career representatives from each of the Schools within the Colleges.  The committee meets throughout the year to discuss and address issues and areas of concerns for early career staff, which are then presented to, for example, the Colleges’ Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee (CoSS and CAL), who deliver the research strategy for the Colleges.  In addition, ECARS committee members sit on their respective School Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee, to address specific issues of concern to ECARS within their particular Schools.

The aims of the ECARS committee are to:

  • Foster a collective identity for early career academics and researchers across the College of Social Sciences and the College of Arts and Law, and provide a forum for mutual peer support and networking;
  • Ensure early career academics and researchers have a voice in decision making within the Colleges; and
  • Address issues and areas of concern for early career academics and researchers within the Colleges, including their specific developmental and training needs.

In addition to representing the views of ECARS at School and College level through their committee membership, the ECARS Committee works through the year to hold events and workshops to support early career academics and researchers, and to disseminate news and opportunities relevant to early career staff in the colleges.

To get involved, advertise events, or be added to the mailing list, please send an email to ecars@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

The current Chair of the ECARS Committee is: Sarah Brooks-Wilson, s.brooks-wilson@bham.ac.uk

She is supported in this role by the following people:

College of Social Sciences

Birmingham Business School

Danae Arroyos Calvera d.arroyoscalvera@bham.ac.uk

School of Education

Francesca Peruzzo, f.peruzzo@bham.ac.uk

School of Government

Giuditta Fontana, g.fontana@bham.ac.uk  
Timea Nochta t.nochta@bham.ac.uk

School of Social Policy


College of Arts and Law 

Law School

Adam Harkens, a.j.harkens@bham.ac.uk

School of English, Drama and Creative Studies

Viola Wiegand v.wiegand@bham.ac.uk

School of History and Cultures 

Leire Olabarria, l.olabarria@bham.ac.uk

School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music

Isobel Palmer i.m.j.palmer@bham.ac.uk

School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion


Other Committee Contacts 

Head of Research Operations for CAL

Sheena Robertson, s.a.robertson@bham.ac.uk

Awards and grant funding opportunities

There are many external and internal funding opportunities.

External funding opportunities

The College Research Support Offices in CoSS and CAL offer support and guidance in applying for external funding opportunities. Support includes finding the best funder for your research, advising on call requirements and guiding you through the various processes, including organising the project budget. They also arrange various events about funding opportunities and grant writing and publicise upcoming deadlines for funding. Below are some examples of the funding opportunities that are available to ECARS. Further information on these schemes can be sought from the College Research Support Offices in CoSS and CAL. Contacting your relevant Office should be your first port of call when applying for research funding.

ESRC New Investigators

“The scheme is specifically aimed at supporting those looking to make the transition to an independent researcher through managing their first major research project. The call is open to high-quality candidates from anywhere in the world who have a maximum of four years postdoctoral experience and the support of an eligible UK research organisation”

The ESRC New Investigators grants are for up to five years, with a value range from £100,000 to £300,000. Please note that this particular scheme is subject to internal panel review in CoSS prior to formal submission. Applications must be made in consultation with your Research Support Office.

AHRC Research Grants Scheme 

“The Research Grants Schemes are intended to support well-defined research projects enabling individual researchers to collaborate with, and bring benefits to, other individuals and organisations through the conduct of research.”

Awards for Early Career researchers - defined as within eight years of the award of your PhD (counted from the viva date) or equivalent professional training or within six years of your first academic appointment - are available under the scheme with the support of an eligible UK research organisation.

The AHRC Research grants are for up to 5 years, with a value range from £50,000 to £250,000. Please note that this scheme does not provide full time buy out.

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships

The Leverhulme Fellowship is a three-year academic research position (50% match funding of salary and up to £6,000 per annum in research costs) to allow early career academics and researchers to “undertake a significant piece of publishable work”. Open to applicants who have a proven track record of research activity but only those who have not held an established (permanent) academic appointment in the UK. 

Please note that CAL runs an internal selection process; please get in touch with your Research Support Office as soon as possible if you plan on applying.

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

“The aim of the British Academy in making these awards is to offer opportunities for outstanding early career researchers to strengthen their experience of research and teaching in a university environment which will develop their curriculum vitae and improve their prospects of obtaining permanent lecturing posts by the end of the Fellowship. The primary emphasis is on completion of a significant piece of publishable research, which will be assisted by full membership of an academic community of established scholars working in similar fields”. Fellowships are for three years.

EU funding

The University has dedicated support within Research & Innovation Services specifically for EU funding. If you would like to explore EU funding opportunities for Early Career researchers please contact  Dr Eleonore Dispersyn-Nievergelt E.Dispersyn-Nievergelt@bham.ac.uk.

Internal funding opportunities

Birmingham International Engagement Fund

Travel funds such as the Universitas 21 scheme have been consolidated  into the Birmingham International Engagement Fund. More details about the scheme here

Training and Skills Development

The University provides a varied programme of training to support the professional development of early career academics and researchers through a number of routes. The ECARS committee also intends to provide and support specific training and development opportunities throughout the year, which are advertised via the mailing list and on this website. The sessions will be developed in response to demand in the network and suggestions are welcome.Here are some useful links for training and skills development opportunities offered by the University:


The People and Organisational Development (POD) unit organises regular workshops for staff across the University. Most of these events will be advertised by the committee.

  • Visit the POD website for more information.

Business Engagement

The Business Engagement team work with external partners to develop and support academic-industry links. The Colleges have a dedicated Business Engagement Partner, Andy Newnham, a.newnham@bham.ac.uk, who is available to discuss and support possible activities.


Vitae is an organisation dedicated to the development of researchers. They organise various courses and events across the UK.

Other useful information and resources

In this section you can find information about other relevant issues for ECARS (mentorship, HR-related issues, etc). If the information you require is not present, please contact us (ecars@contacts.bham.ac.uk).

Other Early Career committees in the University

If you are interested in the activities of the other committees for early career staff in the University, you can find a link to their websites here:


You are encouraged to select and work with a Mentor during your time at the University of Birmingham to support you in identifying and working towards your personal goals and priorities for career development, whatever they may be. Mentoring is a pastoral activity, separate from progress reviews, personal development, probation or any such issues. It is a space in which you can share any issues or areas of concern you may have about your work, and work with your Mentor to identify practical and constructive ways to address those concerns.Some of the benefits of mentoring are:

For the Mentee:

  • preparation for the future, identification of career advancement opportunities, and heightened career aspirations
  • better time management and increased motivation
  • personal and professional development, including increased job-related wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence, and better work-life balance
  • developed networking skills

For the Mentor:

  • career rejuvenation
  • increased confidence and leadership skills
  • personal fulfilment, particularly satisfaction from seeing junior staff progress

For the institution:

  • increased employee productivity, motivation, retention and commitment
  • increased knowledge of, and support for, other equality initiatives

As an early career academic/researcher you are strongly encouraged to use the mentoring system to support you in your early career stage, but it is not compulsory. On joining the university you are encouraged to arrange a Mentor – this should be someone more senior than you but someone other than your line manager (or P.I.). Mentoring is “light touch”, there is no form filling involved and it will be up to the mentor and mentee to decide how to manage their relationship.


POD also offers coaching for University staff. 



The College and University have compiled a host of useful information and links to help ease your induction into the College of Social Sciences and the University of Birmingham. This includes information regarding local induction from the College and information on central induction which is available through the University’s intranet pages.

Information for researchers

The University has collated information for the Birmingham Researcher, that is, “individuals whose primary responsibility is to conduct research and who are employed for this purpose”.The staff intranet contains information on the systems that are in place to support your research (including funding sources and ethical guidance) as well as advice on managing your career. The ‘Birmingham Academic’ brochure and ‘The Concordat’ also highlight what is expected of academics and researchers at the University of Birmingham and how the University is committed to supporting these academics. You can access these pages here.


It is likely that academic staff, especially teaching staff, will have a probationary period at the beginning of their appointment. For academic teaching staff this is usually three years but can be extended up to five. For academic non-teaching staff probation is normally around one to two years.

Guidance on the probationary period including information on the process and access to the relevant forms are available on the staff intranet. For wider information on HR processes, follow the link to the College of Social Science’s HR team or the University’s HR information page.


The annual performance development review (PDR) protocol and guidance can be found in the HR section of the CoSS website  as well as on the staff intranet. Guidance is also offered by People and Organisational Development (POD).


Alongside the PDR information the intranet also offers guidance on academic promotions. Useful pages include advice about the process itself and how job roles can be regraded. Also of interest will be the generic role descriptions that are outlined for each Grade and Role. More information will be available through HR .

Fixed-Term Contracts and Redeployment

Information about policies for staff on fixed-term contracts and the redeployment process can be found on the Human Resources page .

Follow ECARS on Twitter


Professional Services