Aston University is delighted to announce the call for the second cohort of the Future Research Leaders Programme.

In defining Research Leadership, we are making the distinction between the research responsibilities that all T&R and R-only colleagues should be routinely engaged with in relation to their own research and those who aspire to:

  • set research and impact agendas within and beyond their core discipline,
  • lead significant funding applications to develop strategically important research activity 
  • build collaborations with key academic and non-academic partners
  • develop their own leadership and management skills,
  • make significant contributions to the research culture at Aston and, more broadly, in the sector, 
  • lead and mentor others.

The programme consists of two elements; 1-2-1 coaching and group work in the form of Action Learning Sets.

  • The coaching will consist of five confidential, one-to-one sessions (90 minutes each) with an experienced leadership coach. Coaching is designed to help participants identify, explore, and attend to the challenges they might encounter as a research leader at Aston. Coaches are there to facilitate thinking but not to give answers. They will create a space where participants can reflect on their roles, ambitions, leadership styles and relationships with other people.
  • Action Learning is an approach to solving real problems that involves taking action and reflecting upon the results, therefore, helping to improve the problem-solving process. It requires a group of people (a set) who are supportive of one another to meet periodically to listen, ask questions, take action and provide feedback with the objective of individual and shared personal and professional growth. There will be five sessions, each lasting an hour.

The coaching will be delivered by an external provider with an excellent track record of working with many other UK universities for over a decade. Colleagues from Organisational Development will facilitate the Action Learning Sets. 

Indicative Programme

September 2023: Welcome Lunch and Launch Event (2.5hrs)

Semester One and Two: Coaching Sessions x5 (90 mins) 

Semester Three: Action Learning Sets x5 (1hr)

The programme involves a significant commitment for participants; it is, therefore, advisable to discuss your application with your line manager before submission. 


We are inviting applications from colleagues employed on a T&R or R-only contract who can demonstrate their desire to participate in this programme and how they think they would benefit from this investment in individual coaching. Applications will be accepted from colleagues at Senior Lecturer, Reader or Professorial level (Band 1 and promoted within the last two years only), and independent researchers . 

We seek to be transparent, consistent, accountable and inclusive in how we run this selection process and encourage applications from all parts of our community.

We recognise that career trajectories and individual profiles will also vary depending on the discipline and the extent to which research is basic/applied. It would not be surprising if an application from a newly promoted Professor in English looks different to that of a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, or an Engineer who is new to academia having moved from a senior role in industry or an applicant who currently holds a prestigious research fellowship. There is not a ‘perfect’ type of application that we are looking for.

We are committed to running an Equality Impact Assessment following the selection of candidates (which is why we will ask you for your staff ID when you apply) in addition, we ask about your ECR status as this is a self-identification and not routinely captured by HR.

Testimonials for previous participants

I found it extremely helpful to take the time to reflect on my career progression, goals and to find the time to prioritise activities that will allow me to achieve my medium and long term targets. The discussions with the coach were a catalyst to identify strengths and areas of improvement.

2022/23 Participant

It has completely influenced my working in a very positive way. It has made me think about how I prioritise work, about what I want from my work and about the ways that I work (both positive and negative). It has been incredibly valuable for me.

2022/23 Participant

I have really enjoyed the whole programme and we had some great sessions with my coach who walked me through a number of situations and problems and we devised a quantity of tools to deal with various elements of the academic work and related with it expectations and stress.

2022/23 Participant

Key Contacts

Key contacts:

If you are interested in applying and have any questions, please contact either:

Rebecca Stokes, Director of Research Strategy, Funding and Impact

Your Associate Dean Research:

  • Professor Nicholas O’Regan (BSS)
  • Professor Patricia Thornley (EPS)
  • Professor Roslyn Bill (HLS)

Your College Impact Lead:

  • Dr Ed Turner (BSS)
  • Professor Kate Sugden (EPS)
  • Professor Afzal - Ur - Rahman Mohammed (HLS)

The deadline for applications is 16:00 (BST) September 1st 2023.

If you wish to complete an MS Word version of the form, please contact