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Students and Post-docs

Career Development Bursary scheme

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BOU members apply for a bursary here

Join the BOU to apply for a bursary

The aim of these bursaries is to support short-term research positions for young or early- career ornithologists, between a first and higher degree programme or immediately after completion of a higher degree. Successful proposals will combine the development of skills useful for a future career in ornithology with a sound scientific research proposal.

You should check the BOU’s other funding scheme, Small Research Grants, which offer awards of up to £2000 per project aimed at supporting small projects outright and to part-fund medium-sized research programmes. Also check Birdgrants.net for other funding options.

Applications are for awards for projects running between 01 April 2018 and 31 March 2019. Applications for projects taking place outside this period will not be considered.

Closing date for applications: 30 November 2017. Awards will be made in March 2018.


Bursary – the award provided for the career development programme
Bursary holder – the supervisor/sponsor of the applicant
Applicant – the person undertaking the career development programme

Specifics of the Career Development Bursary scheme are:

  • Applicants must be a BOU ECR member. Exception – those from, and still residing/working/studying in, a developing country can apply without being a BOU ECR member (note, those from a developing country studying or working at an institute based in a developed country must be a BOU ECR member).
  • The bursary scheme is aimed at researchers intending to follow a career in ornithology and who wish to develop their skills between or after completion of a first or higher degree. Awards will not be given to projects that form part of a degree programme, or for expeditions.
  • Normally up to £2500 will be provided to cover a period of career development lasting 6-10 weeks, during which a scientific research project will be conducted. The bursary award may include a weekly allowance for the participant and expenses. In exceptional circumstances, an award over this amount may be considered.
  • Applicants should be between a first and higher degree programme or immediately after completion of a higher degree.
  • Awards will not be given to projects that form part of a degree programme, or for expeditions.
  • Applicants must not be employed through other funding sources to undertake work that will be part of the career development programme.
  • This award is for the Applicant to undertake a programme of work that is not already funded, although the work may be linked to existing research programmes.
  • The programme of work must be undertaken in a third party institute, supervised by someone within that institute. Projects cannot be undertaken within your home institute (i.e. any institute from which you have already received any degree or affiliated institute)
  • Research projects should be developed with a professional research group (in a university, NGO or government agency) and be supported by a nominated supervisor from that group who will act as sponsor for the student. Projects can be stand-alone or can complement existing work.
  • Only one application should be submitted by a supervisor in each funding round and no more than two awards will be made to the same institution each year.
  • The timing of projects is flexible according to the needs of the work, but projects should be completed within a year of receipt of the award.
  • Projects can focus on any aspect of ornithology and will be judged on their scientific quality (including a clearly defined objective that is achievable within the time available), their training/career development potential, their scope for thought and initiative by the applicant (i.e. not using the applicant as a research assistant), the track record of the applicant, the suitability of the nominated supervisor and the likely degree of support and contact between the supervisor and the applicant. Proposals that tie in with and add value to existing projects are encouraged, because they may offer more reliable scientific quality and opportunities for skill development. We also encourage proposals which are outside the applicant’s usual research interests and/or would see the applicant moving to/working with an institute or in a research environment different to their existing/former affiliations.
  • Applications should be fully costed, including a one-page proposal outlining the project and programme of career development, and brief CVs of both the supervisor and the Applicant. The supervisor should submit the application and act as the point of contact with the BOU.
  • Proposals must be submitted by 30 November each year. Applications will be considered by BOU Council and BOU Grants Committee with decisions communicated to applicants by the end of the following February.
  • Awards are paid out from March. Payment will be made no more than two months before the project is due to take place.
  • Awards are offered to the institution (university, NGO or government agency), not the supervisor or applicant, and the institution must signify its willingness to administer the award without making administrative charges. The supervisor, applicant and head of the institution must agree to the conditions of the award.
  • Awards are given on the understanding that the research project complies with the safety and ethical regulations of the institution and that the institution will ensure that the requirements of the relevant regulatory authorities will be met before the project begins.
  • Applications are welcomed from all countries.
  • Applicants are expected to undertake the project outside/away from their home institute (i.e. current place of study/work or where they studied for any degree).


Conditions of a Career Development Award

The BOU is a charity and the bursary scheme provides charitable investment in human capital and research capacity, rather than funding a particular project. It covers only the bursary cost of the research carried out and does not meet the full economic cost of the research.

Bursary – the award provided for the career development programme
Bursary Holder – the supervisor/sponsor of the Applicant
Applicant – the person undertaking the career development project

  1. Bursaries are to be used solely for the purpose of the award as stated in the application and described in the letter of the award.
  2. The Bursary Holder is responsible for the conduct of the work including abiding by the BOU’s ethical policy. The institution administering the award is responsible for the applicant and for providing appropriate facilities for the career development programme, including financial management.
  3. Bursary Holder(s) must ensure that all facilities, agreements about access and collaborations for the research are obtained before the career development programme commences and can be ensured for the duration of the bursary period. The Bursary Holder must ensure that any ethical approvals, animal licences and other requirements from regulatory authorities are approved before the career development programme begins. Research that may be part of the programme must be conducted in an ethical manner. The application should discuss any ethical issues. Where necessary, research must be carried out under appropriate Home Office licences.
  4. Any financial support for the project obtained from other sources must be declared.
  5. The BOU should be informed immediately if the Bursary Holder or Applicant is unable to take up the bursary.
  6. The BOU reserves the right to terminate an award if the Bursary Holder or applicant funded is in breach of any of the conditions of the award or is unable to pursue the career development programme funded by the bursary.
  7. Bursaries are paid in advance by cheque or by BACS/bank transfer payable to the host institution. Cheques are sent via the Bursary Holder.
  8. BOU career development bursaries are exempted from income tax under section 776 of the Income Tax (Trading and Income) Act 2005: the main purpose of the bursaries is learning, not employment, and so we understand that the bursaries produce no National Insurance liability.
  9. Bursary Holders must ensure that a final report (up to 1000 words) is submitted to the BOU. This report should include: (i) a summary paragraph describing the career development programme and its outcome for the lay reader; (ii) an account by the applicant of the programme and an assessment of the outcome as an article suitable as a post for the BOU blog; (iii) the Applicant’s comments on their experience of the bursary; (iv) a list of publications arising from any research; (v) comments on the value of the bursary to the Bursary Holder, research group; (vi) a financial statement confirming that no balance remains. The BOU reserve the right to publish reports.
  10. An award cannot be transferred to a third party. If the original recipient is unable to complete the project for which the award was made, or is unable to undertake the project in the timescale agreed (i.e. as detailed in their application), then the award must be returned in full.
  11. At the end of the bursary any outstanding balance over £50 should be returned to the BOU.
  12. If any formal publication arises wholly or partly from the bursary, the BOU’s contribution must be acknowledged appropriately and a copy of the publication sent to the BOU. The BOU must also be acknowledged in any presentations or media coverage that draw on the career development work.
  13. If the BOU is not satisfied that the funds it has awarded have been spent as per the application for which funding was sought, or an adequate report has not been submitted to us, then the BOU reserves the right to request for the award, in part of in full, to be returned.
  14. Bursary Holders should archive data in an appropriate manner.
  15. Applicants must be a BOU ECR member or from and residing in a developing country.

BOU members apply for a bursary here

Join the BOU to apply for a bursary

Image credit
Lab technician | Alysha Chavez (US Navy) | CC-PD-Mark |Wikimedia Commons

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