Needham Research Institute, Cambridge: ISF/NRI Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Cambridge, UK
Deadline: 15th Nov 2020

The Trustees of the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge ( invite applications for a research fellowship, open to those intending to carry out research in original source materials relating to any topic within the broad field of the history of science, technology and medicine in China without limitation of historical period.

Applicants will be expected to hold the degree of PhD in a relevant area. The fellowship is tenable at the Needham Research Institute, whose library offers unique facilities for research in the history of science, technology and medicine in East Asia, located within a short distance of the rich resources of Cambridge University Library. Scholars will be expected to spend most of their time in residence in Cambridge during their tenure. The fellowship will be awarded for one year in the first instance, renewable annually for up to a total tenure of three years, subject to satisfactory performance. The fellow will be provided with a stipend within the range £30,942 – £40,322, which will be subject to UK taxation.

The primary purpose of the fellowship is to enable the holder to pursue academic research. A unique and valuable feature of this fellowship is however a link with The Independent Schools Foundation Academy (ISF Academy) in Hong Kong ( The ISF Academy is an independent school with the mission to be “a community of learners, independent in thought and action, deeply rooted in Chinese culture, global in understanding and experience, and excellent in all endeavors.” As a condition of the tenure of the fellowship, the fellow will be expected to assist in arranging and delivering a short experiential programme each summer in Cambridge for a small group of senior students of the school, who will be accompanied and supervised by staff of the Academy, and to visit the Academy by arrangement two or three times a year for further short periods of contact with students. Applicants should therefore be able to demonstrate strong organisational skills. All expenses for visits to Hong Kong will be paid by The ISF Academy, who will also provide accommodation. While the fellowship holder is not expected to act as a professional educator, or to teach any formal courses, they must be prepared to interact positively with intelligent and energetic school students who will be pursuing individual research projects in the broad field of the history and culture of China. The ISF Academy requires its students to be bilingual in both English and Putonghua (Mandarin), and the fellowship holder should therefore be able to operate in at least one of these languages to native or near native level, and to have good communication capabilities in the other.

Applications should be sent to Susan Bennett, Administrative Manager of the Needham Research Institute ( no later than 15th November 2020. Applications must be submitted as one single pdf file, and should include the following documents:

1. A covering letter, explaining why you are interested in this fellowship position

2. Completed Data Protection Statement (the link to which can be found on our website at

3. Detailed curriculum vitae

4. Detailed description in up to 1000 words of the research to be carried out during the tenure of the fellowship. This should state explicitly :
(a) what research questions will be addressed;
(b) what relevant work has already been carried out by the applicant or by others to date;
(c) what source materials will provide the basis for the research.

5. Two letters of recommendation. Referees should include details of language ability and, where applicable, experience of working with young people.

We are constantly monitoring the Covid-19 situation and remain committed to our community’s wellbeing, and will strive to be flexible in terms of particular needs and circumstances.


The Needham Research Institute was founded by Joseph Needham (1900-95), the most eminent sinologist and historian of science produced by Britain in the 20th century. It houses a unique library, developed on the foundation of Joseph Needham’s personal collection, covering the history of science, technology and medicine in East Asia, with the main focus on China. The Institute is visited for long and short periods by scholars from all over the world who appreciate its spacious and tranquil environment, situated close to the full range of academic facilities of the University of Cambridge. In addition to the academic activities that take place in the Institute, there are regular weekly seminars in term time in many departments of the University likely to be relevant to the fellowship holder, including the Department of East Asian Studies and the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science.

The Institute is funded and controlled by a charitable trust, governed by a board of Trustees under the leadership of Professor Martin Jones. The Trustees act through a Director (Professor Jianjun Mei), supported by a Librarian, Administrative Manager, and Bursar, who together form the Management Committee of the Institute. Further details may be found at the NRI website
Shortlisted candidates may be asked to take part in an online interview, which will take place in late November or early December 2020.
Conditions of the award:

A. The Fellow must satisfy the following conditions:

a. Hold the degree of PhD in an appropriate subject and topic;

b. Have a satisfactory current Criminal Records Bureau (enhanced) check for UK based applicants, or an acceptable substitute in the case of applicants from outside the UK;

c. Possess good language skills in English and Chinese;

B: In addition, the Fellow will ideally possess some or all of the following attributes:

a. Demonstrated ability to work with adolescents, ideally in a residential or educational setting. This requirement might be satisfied, for instance by a record of leadership during the senior years of the candidate’s secondary school education, or by participation in a voluntary organization involving young people;

b. Ability to work in a multi-cultural setting and work with students and teachers from a range of cultural backgrounds;

c. Experience in the planning and implementation of overseas and domestic excursions.
The successful candidate will be expected to take up their fellowship at the beginning of February 2021.

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