Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Engage the public with research about the BBC

Apply for funding to engage the public in the context of the centenary of the BBC in 2022.

You must:

  • be a UK-based researcher at doctoral level or higher
  • have a primary research focus in arts and humanities.

We welcome applications from researchers working in UKRI’s wider remit but your work must focus on the arts and humanities.

You may choose to partner with organisations, including:

  • the National Science and Media Museum (NSMM)
  • the BBC
  • both of these.

Your primary engagement activity must take place between May and November 2022.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £20,000. AHRC will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

This opportunity is part of the ‘What does the BBC mean to me? 100 years of BBC broadcasting’ public engagement fund.

Who can apply

To apply for the ‘What does BBC mean to me? 100 years of BBC broadcasting’ public engagement fund, you must be:

  • a UK resident
  • over the age of 18
  • currently working or studying at doctoral level or higher at a UK research organisation that is described as eligible to receive funding from UKRI in section 2 of the AHRC research funding guide
  • working in a relevant area of research in or related to the arts and humanities
  • proposing activity that will take place between May and November 2022.

We require that applicants have plans that are adaptable and workable in the face of any potential coronavirus-related restrictions. Applicants must consider safe, accessible and inclusive activity and are encouraged to consider how they might adapt their activity to potential restrictions (for example, social distancing or the need to use digital methods).

We welcome applications which engage in interdisciplinary research and collaborate outside of arts and humanities. However, your project must demonstrate at least a 50% arts and humanities remit. You can:

We encourage applicants from a diverse range of:

  • backgrounds
  • experiences
  • expertise
  • career stages.

What we're looking for

2022 is the centenary of the BBC. To mark this major moment in the UK’s cultural calendar, AHRC, in partnership with the BBC and the NSMM in Bradford, is supporting public engagement activity relating to research around the centenary.

Arts and humanities researchers are well-placed to engage public audiences to understand and explore:

  • their connection to the BBC
  • the BBC’s role in the UK’s cultural life.

Public engagement grants of up to £20,000 are available to support researchers to deliver innovative and creative projects that actively engage the public in research related to the BBC centenary and the research process. Projects can be delivered at any time between 9 May and 30 November 2022, linking into the timeframe of a major exhibition in the NSMM in Bradford.

Option to partner with the BBC or NSMM

We welcome applications that demonstrate excellent public engagement and partnership working that is:

  • equitable
  • collaborative
  • mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

As part of this scheme, we are helping you to match up with the BBC or NSMM (or both), should you wish to work with them on your project.

Applications are also open to researchers who do not wish to work with the BBC or NSMM. Applications submitted in partnership with the BBC, NSMM or both will not be favoured more highly at the assessment stage than those submitted in partnership with other third-party organisations.

Partner guidance documents

In addition to the criteria outlined in this funding opportunity, the BBC and NSMM have specific criteria for how researchers might work with them, including a list of possible activities. Please consult the partner guidance documents for guidance before completing your application form:

Engage with the theme

We encourage you to think widely about how you might engage with the theme: ‘What does the BBC mean to me? 100 years of BBC broadcasting’.

Potential topics or themes could include:

  • the role of broadcast media in our daily lives and consumption habits past, present and future, for example exploring the BBC news app in the world of smartphones
  • the role of the BBC in the development of different technologies, for example from colour TV to iPlayer
  • the BBC’s contribution to life and culture in the UK, for example, from covering elections across the UK to major men’s and women’s sporting events
  • the role of the BBC in times of crisis, for example from the Second World War to the global COVID-19 pandemic
  • how broadcasting has played a role in reflecting and influencing social change, for example from Blue Planet 2 to Call the Midwife
  • diversity and the BBC, for example representing regional accents or the diversity of presenters on TV and radio
  • development of channels and programmes, for example from popular Saturday night entertainment to the role of local BBC radio
  • sports coverage and how this has changed, for example from the prominence of women’s professional sport to the Sports Personality of the Year
  • the development and growth of online broadcasting
  • how the arts, culture and science has been covered and engaged audiences
  • music coverage and the music industry, for example from the Radio 1 Big Weekend to the Proms
  • the changing nature of big set-piece TV moments
  • the profile of radio and television personalities.

The above list is intended to be illustrative and to not constrain innovation. We also welcome proposals that address other relevant themes related to the BBC centenary.

What your project must demonstrate

Your project must demonstrate:

  • a clearly defined public audience group (for example, ‘the general public’ is too vague, but ‘18 to 25 year olds living in Leeds’ is defined)
  • excellent public engagement methods and activities that are:
    • collaborative and actively engage a public audience or audiences in the research or research process (or both)
    • inspiring, creative or innovative
    • appropriate and relevant to the needs and interests of the public audience or audiences
  • engagement activity may be based on existing or new research and must be adaptable to potential changing coronavirus-related restrictions
  • excellent partnership working that is equitable and uses collaborative, consultative or co-production methods
  • a strong access to participation, diversity and inclusion. We welcome proposals that engage diverse audiences across the UK, either place-based or interest-based
  • potential for positive long-term impact on a public audience or audiences and partner organisation or organisations
  • that it represents good value for money, is well-structured, and has a feasible plan to get the public actively engaged in research
  • that it might lead to potential future research scoping and new partnerships
  • potential for learnings and successes to be shared with the public, researchers, partner organisations, and the BBC and NSMM once the project is complete, potentially via a shared website or social media presence
  • a rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan
  • public engagement activity that takes place between May and November 2022.

Example types of activities

You must demonstrate how you will deliver your activity in a safe way, providing a rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan that considers the health, safety and wellbeing of your public audience.

We encourage you to embrace a mix of digitally and socially distanced methods and to consider a contingency plan for your proposed activity, in the event of possible future government guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are looking for projects that embrace participatory public engagement with research methods to ensure that the public is actively involved in research related to the BBC centenary. You should consider how you might engage your public audiences in some or all stages of the research process. For example, by:

  • adopting collaborative, co-design or co-production methods, or a mixture of these
  • listening to a diverse range of public voices and involving public audiences in decision-making
  • encouraging peer-to-peer or intergenerational engagement, whereby conversations can be started in relation to the focus of the activity.

Activity should be off-campus and embedded in the community. For example, you may wish to engage with your audience through:

  • community groups
  • having a presence in shopping centres
  • through schools and colleges
  • connecting with interest groups (such as sports teams)
  • using social media channels to reach out to people.

Activities and outputs could include:

  • pop-up radio station or podcasts
  • social media campaign using Instagram or Facebook live
  • short seasons of thematic or place-based podcasts
  • thematic e-books
  • online or face-to-face memory bank, or oral history interviews
  • interviews, focus groups, surveys and consultation
  • design sprint activities
  • place-based participatory activity that relates to the BBC and broadcast media
  • film screenings with question and answer discussions or introductions
  • displays and exhibitions (virtual, physical or both)
  • creation of media outputs (vlogs, podcasts, radio and tv programming, films, apps or zines)
  • theatre, music, visual art and craft, or creative writing and poetry
  • schools’ sessions, workshops and educational packs that make relevant and creative use of the national curriculum, covering one or multiple subjects
  • activity that can be linked to the 2022 Being Human Festival and other place-based festivals.

This list is not exhaustive, and you may choose to select other methods beyond those listed.

What we will fund

These grants are offered at 100% full economic cost and cover:

  • staff time (for example covering the planning and delivery of the public engagement activities)
  • freelancer fees for delivery of project, for example for:
    • artists
    • musicians
    • performers
    • consultants
    • translators
    • non-staff speakers
    • brokers or mediators to support community engagement, for example support workers
  • out-of-pocket expenses for:
    • participants (for example travel and subsistence) where involvement in a project is significant or continuous (or both) over a long period of time
    • carers or guardians if the project involves working with young people or individuals who may need the support of a carer or guardian to participate
  • the cost of producing outputs and essential activity materials, for example:
    • equipment
    • props
    • costumes
  • venue hire
  • transport costs
  • marketing costs.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • activity that would have taken place without the support of this fund, for example pre-planned activity that has been upscaled or could be absorbed into institutional budgets
  • catering (unless consumables are essential to proposed activity)
  • activity designed primarily for the academic community (for example conferences, symposia or academic workshops).

How to apply

There are two parts to this funding opportunity:

  1. Optional application for applicants who wish to express an interest in working with the BBC, NSMM or both.
  2. Application to AHRC: main application process, for all applicants.


AHRC will be hosting an optional webinar on 26 October, 14:00 to 15:00 UK time, for you to find out more about the funding opportunity and the application process, and to ask questions.

Registration will close on 25 October at 17:00 UK time.

It is not compulsory for you to attend this webinar. The webinar will be recorded and shared on the AHRC YouTube page for applicants to watch back.

Optional application to BBC or NSMM

Submit your optional application to partner with the BBC, NSMM or both.

From 18 October 2021, applicants who wish to express an interest in working with the BBC, NSMM, or both, may do so by completing the application form.

This application process will close at 16:00 UK time on 12 November 2021.

In this form, you will be asked to:

  • provide your name, email address, job title and institution
  • state whether you wish to work with the BBC, NSMM or both
  • briefly describe your proposed project activity (250 words maximum).

The BBC and NSMM have specific criteria for how researchers might work with them, including a list of possible activities. We strongly encourage you to consult the ‘partner guidance documents’ before completing your application form:

Between 15 November 2021 and 26 November 2021, the BBC or NSMM may contact you to find out more about your proposed project and to potentially develop a joint bid with you as a project partner. It’s possible that they may only be able to support part of your project or, if you have expressed an interest in working with both organisations, that only one may be able to support your project.

This time period gives you the opportunity to discuss with the BBC or NSMM what might be possible. If you have not been contacted by the BBC or NSMM, you will be contacted by AHRC and will have the opportunity to apply for the funding opportunity with other partner organisations.

Application to AHRC (for all applicants)

You can submit an application through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) system from 30 November 2021 until the deadline of 1 February 2022.

Please make sure you leave sufficient time to create a Je-S account if you don’t already have one.

Please ensure that you gain any required approval from your organisation and ensure you submit before the deadline at 16:00 UK time on 1 February 2022.

How to apply using Je-S

Once you have logged in to Je-S, you should add a new proposal. Go to documents, select ‘New document’, then select ‘Create new document’ with the following details:

  • council: AHRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: development grants
  • call: BBC Public Engagement 1 February 2022.

The following are a list of attachments that are permitted for this opportunity. Unless otherwise stated, please see section four of the AHRC research funding guide for further information about these attachments.

Case for support

Compulsory. No more than seven sides of A4.

You should structure your case for support using the following headings:

  • project title
  • topic eligibility
  • project summary
  • public audience or audiences
  • partner organisation or organisations
  • programme of public engagement activity
  • outcomes and impact
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • ethics and safeguarding plan.
Project title

Please state your project title at the top of your case for support.

Topic eligibility (maximum 100 words)

Select and state the primary focus of your current research activity from within the list of AHRC disciplines. If your project is interdisciplinary, please specify if it has at least a 50% arts and humanities remit, and select further areas of research from the following council disciplines:

Project summary

Outline your project, briefly summarising:

  • your research and proposed public engagement activity and its relevance to the funding opportunity and the centenary of the BBC (please note that projects may be based on existing or new research)
  • the objectives and intended outcomes of your project
  • the public audience or audiences and project partner or partners you intend to work with (please note, you will have further opportunity to discuss these in the next two sections).

You must demonstrate:

  • public engagement activity and research that demonstrates strong relevance to the theme of the BBC
  • ambitious, creative and innovative projects that aim to inspire and engage the public around the theme of the BBC
  • clear objectives and positive outcomes.
Public audience or audiences

Tell us about your public audience or audiences:

  • explain the rationale behind how and why you have identified this public audience group and why you want to engage with them
  • explain how the project is relevant to this audience group’s needs and interests, telling us how it will benefit and engage them.

You must demonstrate:

  • clearly identified and relevant audience group
  • demonstration of relevance and benefit of project activity to public audience
  • project activity that actively engages the public audience in research and the research process.
Project partner or partners

Tell us about your project partner or partners. Describe:

  • how you identified your project partners
  • how the project partners are relevant to your project
  • how you intend to ensure this partnership is equitable.

You must demonstrate:

  • clearly identified partners, appropriate to the project
  • potential for excellent and equitable partnership working that is collaborative.
Programme of public engagement activity

Describe your public engagement activity and methods and explain how you plan to make your research, activity and methods engaging, accessible and relevant to your public audience or audiences.

Please provide estimated dates for each activity. Projects must take place between May and November 2022.

You must demonstrate:

  • public engagement methods and activities that are:
    • collaborative and actively engage a public audience or audiences in the research, the research process or both
    • inspiring, creative or innovative
    • appropriate and relevant to the needs and interests of the public audience or audiences
    • well-planned, achievable within the proposed time-frame and represent good value for money
    • adaptable to potential changing coronavirus-related restrictions
  • an understanding of potential barriers to access for public audiences and a plan of how to remove barriers.
Outcomes and impact

Describe how your project will make a change to the public audience or audiences and partner or partners it engages with.

You must demonstrate:

  • clear positive outcomes
  • potential for meaningful and positive long-term impact
  • potential for project learnings to be shared with the public, researchers and partner or partners
  • potential for scoping of future areas of research, partnership opportunities, public engagement, or more than one of these.
Monitoring and evaluation

Tell us how you will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your project.

You must demonstrate:

  • appropriate evaluation methods for the project activity that capture the impact of activity on the public audience or audiences, the partner organisation or organisations, and the research team
  • achievable and measurable outcomes
  • potential to share findings with the public audience or audiences, the partner organisation or organisations, and the research team.
Ethics and safeguarding plan

You must demonstrate:

  • plans to ensure health, safety and wellbeing of public audiences is effectively planned for and well-managed
  • appropriate safeguarding, consent and ethical processes are put in place which align with university and partner regulations
  • risk assessment.

Successful applicants will be expected to provide proof of an up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate if planning to work with children or young or vulnerable people.

Data management plan

No more than two sides of A4. The data management plan should outline the project’s approach to managing data. See our funding guide for writing the data management plan.

Justification of resources

Up to two sides of A4. This should be a description of the need for the resources requested. Please ensure you justify all of the resources you request. See our research funding guide for writing the justification of resources document.

You should:

  • explain why the indicated resources are needed (note that it is not sufficient merely to list what is required)
  • have regard for the breakdown of resources into the summary fund headings:
    • directly incurred
    • directly allocated
    • (where appropriate) exceptions.

AHRC is paying these awards at 100% full economic cost. For the award to be paid at 100% full economic cost, you must:

  • put all costs in ‘other directly incurred’
  • tick the ‘exceptions’ tick box in that section.

This will include staff costs. In the staff section, fill in all the relevant staff details and put a 0 for the cost, making sure to instead include the actual cost under ‘ODI exceptions’.

As the full costs of the proposed activities will be covered, estates and indirect costs are ineligible under this opportunity.


Summary curriculum vitae should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators. These should be no more than two sides of A4.

CVs should include basic information about:

  • education
  • employment history
  • academic responsibilities.

Summary lists of publications

Summary lists of publications or research outputs should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators. These should cover major publications or outputs in the last five years and should be no more than one side of A4 paper.

Project partner letter or letters of support for all named project partners

Each project partner must provide a project partner letter of support, of no more than two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper by email in exceptional circumstances. The letter should be written when the proposal is being prepared and should be targeted specifically to the project, it must therefore be dated within six months before submission (or resubmission) of the proposal.

The letter of support is intended to provide reassurance to AHRC and to its reviewers that the appropriate authorisation has been given to the proposed contribution or commitment from the project partner.

To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment the letter or email should be signed by the named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign off.

A well written project partner letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating:

  • the benefits of the collaboration
  • its relevance
  • potential impact.

The project partner letter should also identify:

  • the value, relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the partner
  • the period of support
  • the full nature of the collaboration or support
  • how the partner will provide added value.

Where relevant to the project, details should be provided of the projected market size, customers and sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project. Project partner contributions, whether in cash or in kind, should be explained in detail in the project partner letter of support.

You should attach all documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

For further details and help in applying, please read the research funding guide.

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email

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

After completing the application

You must click ‘Submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process.

Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

AHRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 1 February 2022.

Successful applicants

Successful applicants will be notified in early April 2022.

How we will assess your application

Before we assess an application, AHRC will check it for:

  • eligibility
  • research subject.

Applications which don’t adhere to these rules will be disqualified and will not progress any further. Incomplete, obscene or fraudulent entries will also be disqualified at this stage.

AHRC will then share the entirety of the content of the applications, excluding the applicant contact details (email address), with the selection panel via a secure online portal. The selection panel will represent diverse perspectives and specialisms and will include experts from representatives from the AHRC peer review college and other relevant public and community engagement experts.

The selection panel will then assess all remaining applications against the assessment criteria below and assign an initial grade (one to six), where one is unsatisfactory and six is exceptional.

After considering all proposals, the selection panel will select the highest grading applications that meet our assessment and eligibility criteria.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications, we are not able to provide individual feedback if you are unsuccessful at the application stage.

Assessment criteria

The assessors will apply these criteria when reviewing your application.

Public audience is clearly identified, and engagement activity is relevant and beneficial to them

The project identifies a defined public audience and proposes public engagement activity that responds to their needs and interests. It must have the potential to positively impact them.

The audience group or groups must be specific to the project. ‘The general public’ is too vague, ‘18 to 25 year olds living in Leeds’ is clearer.

Equitable partnerships

The project demonstrates potential for excellent partnership working that incorporates collaboration, consultation or co-production methods (or a mixture of these) that are fair and mutually beneficial.

Collaborative public engagement methodologies

The project engages its public audience and partners using collaborative methods (for example co-production or co-design) to generate a two-way conversation about the research and research process. These methods must be relevant and appropriate for engaging the audience group, partners, or both.

Engagement activity may be based on existing research or new research projects.

Facilitating access, diversity and inclusion

The project demonstrates an understanding of potential barriers to access, diversity and inclusion for communities and provides a plan of how to remove these barriers.

Projects are logically and realistically planned

Projects must take place between May and November 2022. They must:

  • represent good value for money
  • present a clear delivery plan which is adaptable to changing coronavirus-related restrictions, an evaluation plan, and outcomes that are achievable and measurable, within budget and timeframe
  • demonstrate a rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan for managing the health, safety and wellbeing of public audiences.

Projects show potential for positive impact and legacy

Projects must demonstrate potential for:

  • learnings to be shared with the public, researchers and partners
  • meaningful and positive long-term impact
  • the scoping of future areas of research, partnership opportunities or public engagement.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity


Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

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Additional info

What we expect from successful applicants

Successful applicants will:

  • be expected to demonstrate proof of an up-to-date DBS certificate if working with children, young people or vulnerable people
  • be expected to update AHRC on their activity to allow us to help promote their project
  • have the opportunity to get involved with other AHRC public engagement activities
  • work with AHRC, the NSMM and BBC on communications and branding activity to support engagement projects, with guidance and information supplied on press releases, social media and digital
  • be expected to provide updates about engagement activity during the lifetime of the projects, and to evaluate their projects and share their findings with AHRC by February 2023
  • be invited to participate in an optional roundtable after the delivery period to share their experiences and learnings with AHRC, the BBC and the NSMM
  • be expected to engage with the BBC and the NSMM where there may be opportunities for legacy projects or to share project findings.

As part of the evaluation, AHRC will provide successful applicants with a survey to measure their project impacts. Applicants will also be expected to:

  • provide AHRC with a brief end-of-project report
  • submit their project outcomes to Researchfish.

Terms and conditions

This guidance, and these terms, constitute the rules of the scheme.

AHRC reserves the right to alter or amend any of these rules or cancel the funding opportunity at any time in their absolute discretion.

Your participation and your data

Your offer to participate in this funding opportunity is subject to continued acceptance of these conditions. By applying to the funding opportunity, you accept these rules and guidance.

You must supply full details as required and comply with all rules of the funding opportunity.

You recognise that your application and personal data will be shared with AHRC for the purpose of administering this funding opportunity. You also recognise that if you are completing the optional application to the BBC or NSMM, your data will be shared with the BBC or NSMM for the purpose of administering the application. You should also note that if we identify a need to do so we may contact you at a later date for more information about you.

Supporting documents

NSMM partner guidance document (PDF, 265KB)

BBC partner guidance document (PDF, 135KB)

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