Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: AHRC early career research grant

This grant aims to support collaborative research projects that require leadership from more than a single scholar. Its aim is to help new researchers at the start of their careers gain experience of managing and leading research projects.

You must include a principal investigator and at least one co-investigator jointly involved in the development and management of the project.

The grant funds projects with a full economic cost between £50,000 and £250,000 lasting up to five years.

We also have a standard research grant for larger projects with funding of up to £1 million.

Please note the announcement outlining changes to the research grants early career route. Notably the closure of the early career route on 29 March 2023 and the core aims and objectives of the early career route will transfer to and will be incorporated within the new catalyst awards opportunity.

In 2023 UK Research and Innovation will introduce a new grants system, the Funding Service, to replace the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. This will impact how you apply to responsive mode opportunities. Find out more about the transition timeline and our pathway for change.

Who can apply

You can apply if you are an early career researcher defined as either of the following:

  • within eight years of receiving your PhD or equivalent professional training (measured from the date of successful PhD viva to the point of applying)
  • within six years of your first academic appointment (paid contract of employment which lists research or teaching as the primary role).

These durations should exclude any period of career break. We define a career break as an extended period of time when you have not been actively engaged in scholarly research or teaching at a higher education institution. The career break could be, for example, for family care or health reasons.

Your proposal must include a principal investigator and at least one co-investigator. Each team member must contribute to:

  • the development of the research proposal
  • project leadership and management
  • joint publication of authored research.

If you have already been a principal applicant or investigator on an AHRC-funded research grant, you will not be eligible to apply. Co-investigators do not have to be early-career researchers.

You can find more information on eligibility in our research funding guide.

What we're looking for

We’re looking for early-stage researchers with proposals for well-defined research projects.

This scheme is not intended to support individual scholarship. You must be willing to collaborate with other individuals or organisations.

Collaboration in proposals can involve a single institution or a combination of institutions, and may involve people from the same or from different research areas. This can include collaboration between disciplines within the arts and humanities, or between an arts and humanities discipline and another subject area. In such collaborations the arts and humanities element of the project should lead in shaping the research questions, methods etc.

The project may involve researchers collaborating with researchers overseas or with colleagues within other sectors. The proposed collaboration should be appropriate for the specific needs of the research project.

We strongly encourage you to follow the principles of The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

How to apply

You must apply using the joint electronic submission (Je-S) system.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘New document’, then:

  • council: Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • call/type/mode: research grants (open call).

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

Je-S will forward your proposal to your research organisation, which in turn will submit your proposal to AHRC – please allow sufficient time prior to AHRC deadlines for this process.

Mandatory attachments include:

  • a case for support
  • CV(s)
  • your publications list
  • a data management plan
  • justification of resources
  • international co-investigator head of department statement (if applicable)
  • project partner letter of support (if applicable).

Optional attachments include:

  • visual evidence
  • work plan.

For more information on application requirements, read our research funding guide.

If you need help with the application process, contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email

How we will assess your application

All proposals will be considered by a minimum of two members of the AHRC’s peer review college. We may include reviewers from outside the college if suitable college members are not available, or where input is required as part of agreements with other funding bodies. We may also seek reviews from specialists if college members lack the necessary knowledge and expertise.

The sifting process for the applications goes through two stages, and panel comments are sent to the principal investigator for response through Je-S.

At the point of submission, each proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • all applicants and named staff must be eligible under the scheme requirements
  • the proposal must meet the aims and criteria of the funding scheme
  • all application documents must be eligible under the scheme requirements.

Proposals which do not meet these criteria will be rejected with feedback on why it could not proceed.

For the peer review we will consider the following criteria:

  • research quality and importance (whether the project meets the aims of the scheme, contribution to knowledge, definition of research questions and issues, feasibility of methods)
  • people (the quality of your work, demonstrated ability to manage the project, balance of team staff, co-investigator’s experience
  • proposed leadership activities
  • management of the project
  • data management
  • value for money
  • outputs, dissemination and impact.

The assessment process usually takes around 30 weeks. We will contact you if it’s going to take any longer than this. The proposed start date of your project must be at least nine months after the date of your application.

Supporting documents

AHRC research funding guide

Contact details

For general enquiries about early career research grants, contact us by phone – 01793 416060 or email –

If you need help with the application process, contact the Je-S help desk by phone – 01793 444164 or by email –

Additional info

Supporting documents

AHRC research funding guide

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