Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: AHRC research, development and engagement fellowships: early career researchers route

This fellowship scheme allows early-career researchers to carry out high-quality innovative research that moves significantly beyond doctoral projects, in any area covered by AHRC. It provides the opportunity to develop experience and capabilities as research specialists and to undertake innovative and collaborative development activities.


  • for early career researchers at eligible research organisations
  • funding is available for projects with full economic costs of between £50,000 and £250,000 lasting between six months and two years
  • research can be at various stages of development

Please note the announcement outlining changes to the research, development and engagement fellowships early career route. Notably the closure of the scheme on 29 March 2023 and the aims and objectives of this scheme will transfer to and will be incorporated within the new curiosity or catalyst awards opportunities.

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

This scheme is designed to support early-career arts and humanities researchers, providing opportunities to undertake ambitious, innovative research and to develop as researchers.

You can apply if you are a postdoctoral researcher with at least two years’ experience and have worked at least one year at an eligible organisation that has identified you as a research leader or a potential future research leader. You will need to demonstrate your host organisation’s commitment and support through the head of department statement and the mentor statement.

Read the AHRC research funding guide.

What we're looking for

We are looking for individuals who are able to:

  • carry out high-quality individual research which has the potential to generate a significant impact on their discipline
  • develop capabilities as research specialists and to create opportunities for outreach beyond their research field
  • undertake innovative and collaborative development activities, including the initiation of new research, which will result in benefits for their own discipline(s) and beyond
  • develop their experience and capabilities in a crucial phase of their careers as they establish themselves and develop beyond doctoral and immediate post-doctoral work
  • enable the production of high-quality innovative research that moves significantly beyond doctoral projects

Enhancing the fellow’s skillset is a core element of this scheme. The types of activity that you may want to follow will vary depending on your research area and career stage, but might include:

  • developing new methodologies, or introducing emerging techniques, technologies or methodologies into your field
  • supporting or inspiring the development of other researchers in your field
  • establishing new lines of enquiry
  • moving into a new field
  • leading research networks

Our main research areas are:

  • histories, cultures and heritage: archaeology, classics, cultural and museum studies, development studies, history, information and communication technologies, law and legal studies, library and information studies, philosophy, political science and international studies, theology and divinity and religion.
  • creative and performing arts: dance, design, drama and theatre studies, media, music and visual arts
  • languages and literature and linguistics

Find out more about areas and disciplines we support.

Before applying, read the AHRC research funding guide.

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

How to apply

You can apply for a research, development and engagement fellowship at any time. Your application must be made through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

We normally take 30 weeks to assess your proposal. You should start your fellowship no earlier than nine months and no later than 18 months after you submit your application.

You will need to attach to your application:

  • a case for support
  • curriculum vitae
  • publication lists
  • visual evidence, if applicable
  • data management plan
  • justification of resources
  • workplan
  • head of department statement
  • mentor statement (for early career researchers only)
  • letter of support from project partner if applicable.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook and the AHRC research funding guide.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be considered by a minimum of two members of our peer review college. You may be given the opportunity to respond to reviewers’ comments. Your research organisation will have access to an anonymised review.

Your application will then go to a peer review panel which will make recommendations to AHRC on funding decisions.

We will assess your proposal on:

  • the quality and importance of the research
  • your ability or potential to provide leadership in your field of research
  • the appropriateness and potential of your leadership activities
  • the support already shown and planned by your institution for your leadership development
  • relevance of the research project and leadership activities to your career development if you are an early career researcher
  • management of the project
  • data management
  • value for money
  • outputs, dissemination and impact.

Find out more about peer review and our assessment criteria in the AHRC research funding guide.

Contact details

Additional info

Supporting documents

AHRC research funding guide

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