Clinical Academic Training

Specialised Foundation Programme SFP

What is a Specialist Foundation Programme (Research) trainee?

Formerly known as the Academic Foundation Programme (aFY) the Specialised Foundation (research) posts are two-year training posts that include a dedicated 4-month research placement (in year 2) that allows the trainee to start developing research skills while continuing foundation training. Foundation doctors who choose to specialise in research during their Specialised Foundation Programme are hosted by the University of Leicester.

These posts provide an ideal platform from which to apply for an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF). The University of Leicester Academic Foundation programme has a strong track record in supporting its trainees successfully attain ACFs across a wide range of medical specialties both locally and nationally.

For further information please refer to the Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP) - UK Foundation Programme.

Training in Leicester

Here at the University of Leicester we are linked to the LNR Foundation School.

SFP (Research) trainees select their preferred research supervisor and research project from an approved list of Specialised Foundation projects that span a variety of clinical specialities. Each research supervisor has been selected because of their commitment to provide a high quality and supportive four-month research placement. Please contact for details of potential supervisors, providing details of the specialties you are interested in.


Prior to commencement all new SFP (research) trainees are sent an introductory letter which details working arrangements with the University. Please ensure that  you take prompt action to provide the information requested in the letter in order that the University can process.

You will be awarded an Honorary Fellow title in the College of Life Sciences which will facilitate your University email account & access arrangements

A half day Induction session is held for new academic trainees (Specialised Foundation (Research), ACF and ACLs) each year. This is normally held late August/early to mid-September.  This provides an opportunity for you to learn more about the programme, to meet other local trainees and those responsible for managing the programme.

It is mandatory for all new clinical academic trainees to attend and you should obtain study leave from your Junior Doctor Administrator, if you are programmed to undertake clinical work.

If you have any issues, please contact Academic Foundation Programme Director, Dr Rachel Perry, and Head of the Postgraduate Speciality School of Clinical Academic Training, Professor Jonathan Barratt.


Research SFP trainees will be allocated an educational supervisor by their Local Education Training Board. Your educational supervisor will also be your academic supervisor.

Your research supervisor will be determined by the research project you choose to undertake during your four-month academic block in your second year.

How do a research supervisor and project?

The list of academics provides details of those providing opportunities for Specialised Foundation research blocks. Please contact if you need further assistances with identifying a potential supervisor, providing details of the specialties you are interested in. Once you have the details of potential supervisors,please contact them in Year 1year to agree a project ahead of commencing SFP2. Once you have agreed your supervisor and project, please confirm this to order that your host supervisor and host School/Department can be contacted regarding your  required access arrangements..

What research is currently going on at Leicester? What might I be able to get involved in?

Browse our SFP projects to see the research teams happy to support Specialised Foundation doctors in their academic placement. If you identify a team you wish to work with please contact them directly and see if they are willing to host you for your 4 month placement. If you need an introduction please contact the Director of Clinical Academic Training, Dr Anvesha Singh

Is there a budget to help me attend a conference?

A £500 bursary is available for SFP (Research) trainees to present the work generated as part of their Foundation programme at a national or international conference. See your introductory letter for further details or contact

I want to apply for an Academic Clinical Fellowship but my academic placement is last – what can I do?

Applications for the academic training open in the autumn, before most trainees have had their academic placement, which can be worrying if this is the career path you want.

Do not despair, just ensure that you have a project proposal planned and written. Keep a copy of it in your interview Portfolio and be prepared to speak about it at your interviews.

If you are not sure about an ACF and want to “try before you apply”, consider using some of your taster days (10 are available across SFP1 and SFP2) to shadow some Academic clinicians.

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