Throughout 2023 the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will be implementing changes to our responsive mode funding opportunities.
AHRC’s current responsive mode opportunities include:
The changes that are being implemented are a direct result of our analysis of these schemes. Feedback from engagement with diverse voices from our community has underlined:
The new offering will be better than before, by providing for a wider range of formats of research and provide greater flexibility for research ideas. It will also offer provision for larger and more ambitious projects, which acknowledge the increasing cost of research.
The changes will help support emerging arts and humanities talent, by offering new and expanded provision for start of career and early career researchers.
The new offering will enable greater support for the development of researchers at all career points and throughout their careers, providing a clear pathway of support for research ideas as they develop and expand. It will also offer more experienced researchers greater scope to meet their ambitions.
These changes will help to increase the breadth of the researchers supported by our funding, such as more career stages, more career paths and more researchers, as well as the types of research organisations in receipt of our funding.
The focus of this change is the mechanism of our grant funding, rather than a fundamental shift in how we operate or in our vision and strategy.
As set out within the commitments in our strategic delivery plan, our funding must:
We will continue to:
There are two new opportunities, launched alongside a revised opportunity, that will meet the needs of the research community in a clearer pathway.
In July, AHRC launched a new flexible award to fund fundamental research, networking activity and idea generation, which enables the development of further research opportunities and new research agendas. These awards will support teams, networks and solo researchers.
The scheme is intentionally flexible, indicative examples of the activities we will fund include:
International co-investigators are supported.
Funding available will be for projects with a total cost up to £100,000 and a duration of up to five years.
For further details see the UKRI funding finder.
In July, AHRC launched awards to fund researchers without prior experience of leading a significant research project to accelerate their trajectory as independent researchers to unlock their potential and build leadership and convenor experience.
The awards will provide applicants with an opportunity to support their own skill development and the skill development of research staff employed on the award.
Specific eligibility criteria apply to principal investigators, as outlined on the UKRI funding finder.
Funding available will be for projects with a total cost between £100,000 and £300,000 and a duration of up to five years.
For further details see the UKRI funding finder.
AHRC have increased the upper funding limit from £1 million to £1.5 million (100% full economic cost) to support more ambitious projects and enhanced team development, as well as accommodate the increased costs of research.
Funding available will be for projects between £300,000 and £1.5 million. The lower funding limit has been increased from £50,000 to £300,000, as the new catalyst and curiosity opportunities offer support to projects below £300,000.
The three new pathways are designed to meet the changing needs of our researchers in a clear and coherent suite of responsive mode opportunities, which means that we will close some of our current opportunities.
At this time this opportunity will remain unchanged, though the work achieved by the new opportunities may lead to a future review.
The core aims and objectives of the existing targeted early career route will transfer to and be incorporated within the catalyst awards opportunity, offering more flexibility for sole-scholar and collaborative research.
The early career route closed on 29 March 2023.
The aims and objectives of this scheme have been incorporated within the new curiosity and catalyst awards opportunities.
In its current form, this opportunity closed on 29 March 2023.
The aims and objectives of this opportunity will be incorporated within the new curiosity awards opportunity, and in its current form closed to applications on 29 June 2023. All applications received between 1 March and 29 June 2023 will be assessed via an assessment panel, rather than peer review and moderation panel.
Throughout 2023 AHRC will transition from Je-S to the new UKRI grants system, the Funding Service.
Read more about the new system and how we will transition to the Funding Service.
This transition is part of UKRI’s Simpler and Better Funding programme, which is creating a single, consistent user-centred Funding Service.
To enable the transition to the Funding Service, there will be a period where we are unable to accept applications. See the ‘Making changes to ‘always open’ funding opportunities’ section for further details.
Our aim is to make changes to ‘always open’ funding opportunities in a way that gives applicants certainty as to how to apply, how their applications will be processed and how they will be assessed.
‘Always open’ funding opportunities will have a more consistent set of application questions and assessment criteria across and within councils, as part of a harmonised responsive mode. This harmonisation will result in applicants having a new and simplified experience when writing and submitting proposals to UKRI’s funding opportunities.
The introduction of a new grants system presents us with an opportunity to implement changes to funding opportunities at the same time as the transition. This will reduce the number of points at which change is applied and therefore make it easier for our research community to manage.
AHRC will be launching responsive mode funding opportunities as consecutive rounds with defined closing dates, using UKRI core assessment criteria and questions. Applications may be submitted at any time while a round is open. Further details on the rounds can be found on the relevant funding opportunity pages of the UKRI funding finder and the AHRC transition to the new Funding Service page.
The changes and system transition are implemented as follows:
On 29 March the following opportunities temporarily closed to applications:
On 29 March the following opportunities permanently closed to applications:
Further details of the new curiosity and catalyst award opportunities published on the UKRI funding finder.
On 29 June round one of the following opportunities opened in the Funding Service:
On 29 June the following opportunity closed to applications:
On 5 July we held our first launch webinar. A recording is available in the ‘Webinars’ section.
On 17 July round one of the following new opportunities opened in the Funding Service:
On 8 September we will hold our second launch webinar. Registration details can be found under the ‘Webinars’ heading.
On 14 September round one of the following opportunities will close in the Funding Service:
On 28 September round two of the following opportunities will open in the Funding Service:
On 19 October round one of the following new opportunities will close in the Funding Service:
On 30 October round two of the following new opportunities will open in the Funding Service:
On 7 December round two of the following opportunities will close in the Funding Service:
On 30 January round two of the following new opportunities will close in the Funding Service:
We will provide at least eight weeks’ notice when these opportunities will open or reopen in the new Funding Service.
During the transition period, between opportunities being closed and new opportunities launching, we will not be able to accept applications.
We know that research funding proposals take time to complete, and we do not intend to disadvantage applicants. We remain contactable for queries and requests, including those relating to these published deadlines.
When changes are announced there can be an uplift in applications under previous terms being submitted. We are announcing these planned changes now to give researchers the confidence in our ongoing commitment to responsive mode research and so that you can make an informed decision on when to submit.
While some applicants may wish to submit slightly earlier than originally planned, other applicants may wish to wait to apply when opportunities reopen in the new Funding Service.
The launch of the Curiosity and Catalyst Awards schemes is supported by a webinar (two dates available) for prospective applicants and professional research support staff that will present an overview of the schemes, followed by an opportunity to ask questions. The webinars will be recorded, and a copy will be published on this page.
Webinar one: 5 July 2023 at 1:00pm to 2:00pm UK time.
Webinar two: 8 September 2023 at 10:30am to 11:30am UK time.
Note that this webinar will be British Sign Language interpreted.
Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the webinar via Zoom.
Please note that similar webinars are also being provided in July and September to:
Further information on these changes will be published on this web page, in future editions of the AHRC research funding guide, and within the relevant funding opportunity pages on the UKRI funding finder.
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Last updated: 1 September 2023