Professor Shelda Debowski: Lead advisor

Shelda is a higher education consultant with experience as a Deputy Vice Chancellor. As Winthrop Professor of Higher Education at the University of Western Australia, she developed a range of innovative programs to support university leaders and researchers. A long-term advocate for improving development strategies for researchers, Shelda has guided a number of major development projects, including The Future Research Leaders Program, an online program in operation in Australia and New Zealand. In 2011 Shelda visited the UK, USA and New Zealand to explore research development practices while completing a Churchill Fellowship.

Her book, The New Academic: A Strategic Handbook, draws on many years' experience in helping academics and researchers to build their professional skills. As President of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) and the International Consortium for Educational Development (ICED), Shelda took an active interest in promoting the need for improved mentorship and development of university researchers. She has presented on these issues in various forums across the world.

Dr. Jacob E. Levin: Author

Jacob Levin is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development at UC Irvine. His office coordinates the preparation and submission process for major interdisciplinary grant proposals across campus, and has been instrumental in the development and funding of multiple campus research centers, cross-school initiatives, capital projects, graduate and undergraduate degree programs. He is a founding member and past-President of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). Jacob sits as a voting alternate on the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the State's $3 billion stem cell science granting agency, and serves as a grant reviewer for agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Jacob received his BA in Physics and Math from Cornell University, an MA in Physics from UC Berkeley, a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Dr. Lowry McComb: Reviewer

Lowry McComb is Director of Researcher Development in the Centre for Academic and Researcher Development and Senior Fellow in the Department of Physics at Durham University. In addition to a BSc and DPhil from the University of Sussex, Lowry holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education from the Open University. He is PI and Co-I on a number of high energy astrophysics and researcher development awards and reviews funding and fellowship proposals for the European Commission, the Science and Technology Funding Council, the Higher Education Academy and the Australian Research Council. He also delivers professional development courses in research funding and research leadership.

Wilma Alexander: Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander is part of the Learning Services team at the University of Edinburgh, supporting the use of online tools and technologies across the University. She has a special interest in usable and accessible digital practice, tutors on usability and accessibility for the University's Masters in Digital Education, and promotes the use of online activities for inclusive teaching and learning in the context of staff development.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you will have:

  • A good understanding of the grant process, from idea conceptualization and planning, through writing and component assembly, to submission and review
  • An awareness of factors that influence funding decisions, commonly overlooked elements and potential pitfalls
  • The skills necessary to write applications for grants and other types of funding (fellowships, contracts, philanthropic support) that are compelling and competitive to help secure funding for your research.

Course structure

The bullet points below explain the chronology of the course and give a breakdown of each of the sections you will encounter.


The Orientation section introduces you to the content and aims of the course. There is an opportunity to assess your current knowledge, to help you evaluate your learning at the end of the course.

  • Introduction

Course files

The course files contain the core course content. The content is divided into modules and screens.

  • Module 1: Introduction
  • Module 2: Selecting your funding source
  • Module 3: Planning your grant
  • Module 4: Writing the grant


The Application section gives you the chance to apply the course content to practical examples.

  • Practice scenario


The Closing section summarizes what you have learned and provides reference materials for further study.

  • Course summary
  • Resource bank
  • References

Learning assessment

The Learning assessment section allows you to assess and consolidate what you have learned in the course.

  • Course quiz


Course highlights include:

  • A questionnaire to determine whether you are ready to apply for funding
  • An interactive timeline for preparing your application
  • Video interviews with successful researchers sharing their experiences and advice on obtaining research funding

Supporting universities

The Professional Skills for Research Leaders program has been developed in conjunction with the following institutions:

  • Anglia Ruskin University, UK
  • Brunel University, UK
  • Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Durham University, UK
  • Indiana University, USA
  • Macquarie University, Australia
  • Michigan State University, USA
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • NUI Galway, Ireland
  • Queen's University Belfast, UK
  • Sheffield Hallam University, UK
  • The Open University, UK
  • Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • University College Cork, Ireland
  • University College Dublin, Ireland
  • University College London, UK
  • University of Greenwich, UK
  • University of Kansas, USA
  • University of Leicester, UK
  • University of Liège, Belgium
  • University of Limerick, Ireland
  • University of Sheffield, UK