AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Funding to encourage and develop collaborative partnerships between Higher Education Institution departments and non-academic organisations, focussed on arts and humanities.

Extended Description

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is the UK’s national funding agency for research across both arts and humanities.

The AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Awards are designed to facilitate collaboration between Higher Education Institutions and non-academic organisations. This will take the format of a project which can provide demonstrable benefits to all parties. The project will be carried out by a research student (or multiple students where required), who will be jointly recruited and supervised by the partner organisations, and who will gain a doctoral qualification by the end of the award.

The proposal can relate to any aspect of the AHRC’s remit, and proposals relating to the AHRC’s strategic research themes are especially encouraged.

Funding calls for cohorts beginning in 2015 are subject to two highlight notices, supporting up to five additional awards:

  • Design: Under this highlight notice the AHRC are especially interested in receiving proposals for PhD research within AHRC remit that examines the part played by design in service and social innovation.
  • Connected Communities: This highlight notice seeks proposals for PhD research on communities, and which connects communities with research, bringing together community-engaged research across a number of core themes, including community health and wellbeing, community creativity, prosperity and regeneration, community values and participation, sustainable community environments, places and spaces, and community cultures, diversity, cohesion, exclusion, and conflict.

Eligibility Criteria

Applications must be made jointly by a department in a UK based HEI, and by a non-academic partner organisation from the voluntary, public or private sectors.

Where justified, the partner organisation does not need to be UK-based.

Additional Information

The AHRC expects to make up to 45 awards in the 2015 round.

Awards can be full time for three years, or part time for six years.

Value Notes

The award constitutes a standard doctoral studentship (full time, part time or fees only at the maintenance/fee levels set for 2015/16). Award holders also receive an additional payment of £550 per annum. Additionally, partner organisations will be expected to contribute £1,000 per annum to the student in the form of a maintenance grant.

The award is valid for three years full-time, or six years part-time.

A single application may support up to four studentships running concurrently, subject to capping levels.

Match Funding Restrictions

The non-HEI partner is required to provide supervisory time and desk space for the student as in-kind contributions. In addition to this, the collaborating organisation will also be required to make a cash contribution to the student over and above the maintenance grant provided by the AHRC.

The non-HEI partner cash contribution should be used to cover the costs incurred by the student in undertaking the collaborative project. Where the studentship is held by a fees-only student, the collaborating organisation can choose to pay this cash contribution at their discretion.

Full details of the non-HEI partner cash and in-kind contributions must be provided within the proposal.


Organisations deemed to be ‘spin-offs’ from HEIs (eg galleries) are eligible to apply, except in partnership with their parent organisation.

The maximum number of applications which any one organisation may make is limited to two, or three if one or more of the applications is made under a highlight call, or four if the proposals are submitted under both active highlight notices.

Terms and Conditions

Projects can relate to any topic within the AHRC’s domain, and selection is not subject to area-based quotas, although applications focussed on the AHRC’s strategic themes (below) are especially encouraged:

  • Care for the Future
  • Digital Transformations
  • Science in Culture
  • Translating Cultures

Applications must be designed to:

  • Support excellent collaborative research training.
  • Provide opportunities for doctoral students to acquire first hand experience of work outside an academic environment.
  • Allow doctoral students to undertake research that could not be completed without the proposed collaborative framework.
  • Encourage and develop collaboration between HEI departments and non-academic bodies and organisations.
  • Establish links that can have benefits for both collaborating partners, providing access to resources and materials, knowledge and expertise and which also provide social, cultural and economic benefits to wider society.
  • Encourage collaborations from any area within the AHRC’s subject remit and with a full range of organisations, bodies and businesses.

Applications will be assessed on their capacity to satisfy these requirements, as well as on more general criteria relating to the quality of support, monitoring, resourcing and the proposed outcomes and legacy of the award.

Previous Successes

Recent successful applications to this award include:

  • Dr Bernadette Buckley Goldsmiths College & Museum of London
    The vibrant museum: applying ‘vibrant matter’ theory at the Museum of London
  • Professor Laura Brooks University of Southampton & National Trust
    The Making of the Modern Harpsichord
  • Ms Jo Volley University College London & Winsor & Newton
    The Materials Research Project: From Landscape to Colour

Application Procedure

Applications for this funding call should be made through the Joint Electronic Submission – (JE-S) System. Assistance in using this system can be found by contacting the JE-S helpdesk on 01793 444164, or viaJesHelp@rcuk.ac.uk.

Applications for the next funding round should be submitted by the closing date of 4pm, 9 July 2014.

– Information provided by Grantfinder, Idox