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Short-listing and the 2000-word statement

A short-list of candidates will be drawn up in the week beginning 2 October 2023. Candidates will be told as soon as possible thereafter whether they have been short-listed. Those on the short-list will be invited to submit a dissertation and a statement, in about 2,000 words, intelligible to the non-specialist so far as reasonably possible, explaining the general scope of the dissertation, the place which it is intended to fill in the development of the subject and, where this is relevant, the aspects in which it may be of interest from the point of view of other subjects. The Electors will attach importance to its arrangement and style. It should conclude with a brief account of the candidate’s general research aspirations for the next two or three years and should also include a list of references of published work or work accepted for publication: in the case of joint authorship, a brief indication of the contribution of the candidate should be given. The title of the dissertation and the name of the candidate should appear at the head of the statement.

The dissertation and 2,000 word summary must be submitted by noon on Thursday 26 October 2023. Candidates will be asked to submit one electronic copy via the online system.

If any candidate at any time finds that he or she must for any reason withdraw from the competition for a Fellowship at Trinity, it is important that the Secretary to the Electors be informed at once.

In December the Secretary to the Electors will ask short-listed candidates to confirm in writing that they remain in the competition. Failure to confirm will mean that they will not be considered further in the competition.

Form of the Dissertation

Some candidates will already have finished their PhDs and will either be obliged or choose to submit them as their dissertations. For candidates not submitting a PhD dissertation, the following guidance may be helpful.

There is no specified maximum or minimum length for a dissertation. The Electors are looking for evidence of high originality and promise in research. Candidates should therefore write enough to set out their ideas properly, and to show that they are properly backed up by scholarly or scientific evidence — but should realise that accumulation of evidence merely for its own sake is unlikely to impress. A dissertation should present a coherent argument in a logical fashion — it is not usually enough to send in a collection of published papers (though the Electors should be told if part or all of the work has already been published). It is not necessary for a Fellowship dissertation to be in the fully polished form required for a doctorate. It is sensible, however, to see that the Fellowship dissertation has the full scholarly or scientific apparatus, e.g. footnotes, full bibliography etc, required in a PhD. thesis — quite often parts of a successful Fellowship dissertation will coincide with a chapter or chapters of the eventual PhD. thesis; in the arts and humanities, successful candidates most often have submitted work which is roughly the length of a doctoral dissertation (65,000-80,000 words), and sometimes longer.

All dissertations must be submitted online as PDF files, except if, for special reasons, the Secretary to the Electors gives permission for a different form of submission. Every dissertation must contain a statement explaining what portions of it are the candidate’s own work, and from what sources the rest is derived. Rules about dissertations not in English are given in the Further Particulars under Work Required.

On submission of the dissertation, short-listed candidates should include a Dissertation Cover Sheet indicating whether:

  1. The dissertation submitted is identical to the PhD dissertation (or its equivalent).
  2. The PhD dissertation or its equivalent has not yet been submitted.
  3. Although the PhD dissertation or its equivalent has been submitted, the PhD course or its equivalent began (as defined in the Further Particulars) on a date no earlier than 31 August 2018.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Rights

It is the intention and practice of the College that the dissertations submitted by short-listed candidates in the Election are treated as confidential. They are made available only to those Electors and referees who need to see them for the purpose of the Election. But those responsible for deciding which candidates are short-listed may need to consult quite widely within the University and elsewhere, and to show some of the material submitted with the application form to several people outside the College.

Intending candidates are therefore advised to take steps to protect their rights in the submitted material, where that seems appropriate. Anyone who in consequence finds difficulty in making the strongest possible case for election should consult the Secretary to the Electors.


At the final meeting on Monday 15 January 2024, the Electors will have before them reports by referees on the various dissertations, the 2000-word explanatory statements provided by candidates and the testimonial references and Research Supervisor statements received with the initial applications. Candidates will be informed of the Electors’ decisions immediately after this final meeting. The Electors’ decisions are final. Those elected Fellows will normally be admitted in Chapel on Tuesday 7 October 2024, following the meeting at which they are formally elected, and will be invited to the Fellowship Admission Dinner at 8 pm on that day.

The Secretary to the Electors is required by College regulations to deposit one copy of each successful dissertation in the College Library. Permission to consult or publish extracts from a dissertation will not be granted against the author’s will.

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