The National Archives and RLUK Professional Fellowship Scheme enables staff from both organisations to gain experience and insight from one another, strengthen and diversify the relationship between them, and to overcome some of the collective challenges facing research and cultural organisations.

This scheme supports the corporate aims and ambitions of The National Archives, as outlined in Archives for Everyone. It will support RLUK’s strategy Reshaping Scholarship, whilst also enabling personal development opportunities for the individuals involved. It also supports the Government’s vision for the Archives Sector, Archives Unlocked.

Professional Fellowships are structured around a short-term visit to The National Archives, for Fellows from an RLUK member institution, and to an RLUK member institution, for Fellows from The National Archives, underpinned by a longer period of peer-to-peer mentoring and knowledge sharing. Professional Fellowships will address a professional-practice question, contribute to a wider piece of work, and facilitate shared learning between The National Archives and individual RLUK members. Each Fellowship will last for one year and the selection and recruitment of the fellows will be undertaken jointly between The National Archives and RLUK. A financial allocation will be made to support the work of Professional Fellows.

Information for applicants

Up to four Professional Fellowships will be available each year (shared between RLUK and TNA), supporting colleagues to investigate a professional-practice question of their choosing. The scheme is designed to enable colleagues to place their work within a wider professional and organisational setting, to benefit from the expertise of colleagues at The National Archives (for RLUK fellows) and at RLUK institutions (for TNA fellows), and to shape and support their own professional development.

Professional Fellowships are not secondments and colleagues will be expected to continue in their substantive role within their sponsoring (home) organisation.

Professional Fellowships should lead to tangible outcomes and deliverables that support the Fellow in their substantive role, enhance the operations of their sponsoring organisation, strengthen the relationship between The National Archives and RLUK, and are of benefit to the wider library and archive sector. They should also enable the sharing of best practice and underpin knowledge exchange.

Professional Fellows will be monitored throughout their Fellowship to ensure that they receive adequate support from their sponsoring and host organisations, undertake the activities in their CPD plan, and successfully deliver the outcomes of their Fellowship. More information on the monitoring and evaluation of Professional Fellowships can be found in the scheme guidance document.

Who can apply?

Any TNA or RLUK member employee may apply for a Professional Fellowship if they:

  • Are currently employed by The National Archives or an RLUK member on a permanent basis;


  • Are currently employed by The National Archives or RLUK member on a fixed-term contract, where the end date of the contract exceeds the proposed end date of the Professional Fellowship by at least three months;
  • Have been employed by The National Archives or the RLUK member for a period of at least 12 months prior to the date on which the Professional Fellowship commences;
  • Have the formal approval of their line manager and Head of Department at the point of application.

You do not need to come from an academic or research background to apply or undertake a Professional Fellowship and the scheme does not have a qualification requirement.

We especially welcome applications from black and minority ethnic candidates, people with disabilities and others who are under-represented in the library and archive sector.

Application process

The Professional Fellowship Scheme has a two-stage application process consisting of an Expression of Interest (EoI) stage and a Full Application stage. Applicants should discuss their application with their line manager and agree the time to be committed to the fellowship. Applicants from within The National Archives should also speak to members of Research and Academic Engagement Team regarding their application, and those applying from within an RLUK member, with a member of the RLUK Executive. Please find contact details listed below.

Each application should link to one of the following themes:

  • Sustainability
  • Equality, diversity, inclusion and cultural change
  • Impact, value and affect
  • Rethinking the record

Expressions of Interest (EoIs) in the scheme are now being sought and full applications are invited later in the year.

Applicants must complete both an EoI and a full application in order to undertake a Professional Fellowship. Further details about the application and assessment process is provided in the scheme guidance.

 Download the Expression of Interest (EoI) form

Download the full application form

Schedule for 2021-22 applications

  • 28th June 2021: Call made for expressions for interest.

  • 6th September 2021: Stage one expression of interest (EoI) applications due.

  • Late September 2021: Assessment of stage one applications and full applications invited from successful applicants.

  • 8th November 2021: Stage two full applications due

  • 13th December 2021: Assessment of full applications. Fellows appointed.

  • From February 2022: Professional Fellowships begin.


For colleagues at RLUK member institutions:

Dr Christina Kamposiori, Project Officer, Research Libraries UK

For colleagues at The National Archives:

Dr Rachel Smillie, Head of Academic Partnerships, The National Archives


Can I apply?

The eligibility criteria for the Professional Fellowship Scheme are given within the Professional Fellowship scheme guidance. Colleagues from across the RLUK membership are encouraged to apply to this scheme. It is an inclusive scheme and applicants from any career level or library department can apply.

What do you mean by a ‘professional practice question’?

Professional practice means the application of a person’s knowledge or expertise to a problem or challenge. These can be problems that applicants face in their daily role and the fellowship can be used to acquire the necessary skills, experience or confidence to overcome these.

Can start dates be flexible?

Yes. A flexible start date will be possible through negotiation with your sponsoring (home) and host organisation. If you think that you will be unable to begin a Professional Fellowship in February 2022 please speak to your scheme representative at the earliest moment.

Do I need to be research active or within the research and collections directorate to apply?

No. Staff from any department can apply to the Professional Fellowship Scheme. You do not need to be research active or have a track record in academic research. If you are uncertain whether your area of interest is suitable for a Professional Fellowship, please contact (for RLUK members) or (for The National Archives staff) to have an informal discussion.

Why is there a two-stage application process?

Applicants need to complete an expression of interest and a full application in order to undertake a Professional Fellowship. The expression of interest phase will help the scheme panel assess the purpose of the fellowship, and the availability of an appropriate host organisation for the short residency. The two- stage application process also gives applicants the opportunity to fully develop their application, taking advice and suggestion from colleagues and feedback from the fellowship panel.

How will I combine a Professional Fellowship with my substantive role?

Professional Fellowships are not secondments and Fellows will be expected to continue in their substantive role throughout the period of the Fellowship. It will be essential, therefore, that applicants talk with their line manager or head of department at the earliest possible moment about how being a Professional Fellow will help them in their substantive role. Suitable adjustments should be made to an individual’s performance objectives and responsibilities depending on the size and scope of the proposed Fellowship activities. These adjustments are to be decided between the line manager and applicant.

Information for sponsoring and host organisations

Sponsoring organisations:

The success of an individual Professional Fellowship will depend on the support and commitment of a Fellow’s sponsoring organisation (i.e. the organisation from which they originate). Organisations should support staff in the development of their application to the scheme, ensuring that it supports them in their substantive role and professional development. If an applicant is successful, sponsoring organisations should ensure that staff have adequate time to undertake their Fellowship and that its findings and outcomes can be shared and embedded throughout the organisation.

Host organisations:

One of the key components of the Professional Fellowship Scheme is a short-term residency within an organisation that is not the Fellow’s home institution. Depending on where the Fellow originates from (i.e. their home organisation), this will be a short-term residency within The National Archives (for Fellows from an RLUK member) or at an RLUK member (for Fellows from The National Archives). It is intended that both the fellow and host organisation will derive significant benefits from the Professional Fellowship Scheme.

The envisaged benefits include:

  • Raising of their respective profiles as centres of expertise;
  • Enable the opening of new strategic conversations that may not otherwise occur;
  • Identify new potential partnerships for joint initiatives or markets for their respective services;
  • Improving corporate processes and procedures through engaging in critical friendship and their contextualisation within a wider organisational setting.

Amongst the responsibilities of host organisations is to provide a named mentor within the organisation who will be responsible for liaising with the Professional Fellow throughout their Fellowship and on the approach to, and throughout, their residency.

More information about the role and responsibilities of sponsoring and host organisations can be found in the guidance for participating organisations.

Further information


About RLUK and The National Archives

Research Libraries UK (RLUK): represents 37 of the leading and most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland. We aim to optimise the contribution that research libraries and collections make to the economic, technological and cultural success of the UK and Ireland. We are achieving this by working with our members, external institutions and our partners in the community, both nationally and internationally.

We are investing in and developing strategic projects, reports and innovations that are fomenting much greater engagement with, and services for, the research community we serve. These are exciting times for the research sector. We believe there is so much more that we can do together to shape collections and services in support of academic excellence.

The National Archives: is a non-ministerial department and the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. We are expert advisers in information and records management and are a cultural, academic and heritage organisation. We fulfil a leadership role for the archives sector in England, working in partnership to encourage innovation and sustainability and secure the future of physical and digital records. As an Independent Research Organisation (IRO), we lead high quality research which seeks to innovate our practice, unlock the potential of our collections, and respond to opportunities and challenges in the academic and archive sectors.

In March 2019, The National Archives launched its new strategic plan for 2019-23. Archives for Everyone challenges the organisation to strive to become the 21st Century national archive – inclusive, entrepreneurial and disruptive. It reaffirms engagement with the widest possible audience at the heart of our mission, and sets out the radical changes we need to make to our culture and practice, to realise our full potential. Our ambitious strategic vision for the archives sector, Archives Unlocked, focuses on the needs and potential of archives across the country, and realises in practical and tangible terms their unique relevance in preserving the diversity of our nation’s heritage, along with our recently published strategic priorities 2020-2022.

For more information: