Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Engage the public with the BBC’s past and future

Apply for funding to develop ways to engage the public in the context of the BBC’s centenary.

You can be a researcher from any area of AHRC’s remit.

We’ll fund two fellows. You must focus on one of these:

  • the history of the BBC
  • the future of broadcast media.

We’ll fund your costs related to delivering the proposed activities. Your fellowship’s full economic cost can be up to £150,000. We’ll fund 80% of the full economic cost.

The fellowships will start on 1 January 2022 and last for 12 months.

Who can apply

Unless otherwise stated on this page, the eligibility criteria as published in section three of the AHRC research funding guide apply.

You do not need to have held previous AHRC funding to be eligible for a fellowship.

Applications from early career researchers are particularly encouraged. If you’re an early career researcher, you must briefly explain how you meet AHRC’s definition of early career in your case for support. An additional page in the case for support document is permissible to facilitate this.

You can only submit an application for one of the two fellowships. You must put the fellowship name in the title of your application (‘BBC History 100’ or ‘Future media’) and clearly state in the case for support which fellowship you’re applying for.

Co-investigators are not permitted on this scheme.

The fellowship project can include a small period of research assistance or technical assistance to support specific activities in support of your project. However, the fellow must be doing the majority of the proposed activity.

What we're looking for

We are looking for two researchers to be at the heart of the centenary of the BBC in 2022. The selected BBC engagement fellows will use their current research to amplify and explore one of two thematic fellowship areas through a range of innovative and exciting engagement activities across the centenary year.

One of the fellowships will be focused on the historical context of the BBC and the second fellowship will look at the future of the broadcast media.

The fellowship areas

BBC History 100

This fellowship should reflect on existing research and engage diverse audiences around the story of the BBC in its first 100 years. Whether focusing on:

  • the broadcast pioneers (in front of or behind the camera or microphone)
  • the role of the BBC in fulfilling its mission to ‘inform, educate and entertain’
  • the place that the organisation has played in connecting communities and diverse audiences.

Future media

This fellowship should use the opportunity of the BBC’s centenary to consider how the way we’re consuming and engaging with linear and interactive content is changing, and how that’s leading to technological innovation into the future. There will be opportunities to engage with:

  • AHRC major investments, such as the Creative Industries Clusters programme
  • Centre for Cultural Value
  • partners such as the Edinburgh Television Festival.

Opportunity aims

The aims of the opportunity will form the basis of our assessment of your application, and are as follows:

  • to deliver an innovative programme of public engagement, test new approaches and ambitiously build and develop networks
  • to be based on excellent original research that clearly speaks to the selected fellowship and that will enrich and amplify its stated focus
  • to challenge and engage with established narratives around the BBC as it marks its centenary
  • to clearly identify relevant audiences and their needs
  • to identify fellows with a flair for impact and engagement and to support their professional development and honing of their skills and expertise
  • to put in place clear and relevant plans for monitoring and evaluating the programme of proposed activity.

Examples of activities in scope

In terms of outputs for the fellowship, below is a list of some of the potential areas of activity that we’d be looking for the successful applicants to include:

  • a broad range of engagement activities that connect researchers and their research with communities through a blended approach of virtual gatherings or face-to-face networks using a range of different communication tools from podcasts to film and social media platforms
  • equitable engagement with a broad range of partner organisations at a local, regional or national level to deliver potential programming or community engagement activities (for example, this could include the Science and Media Museum in Bradford, the BBC or the Edinburgh Television Festival)
  • partnerships with festivals, such as Being Human or local place-based festivals, to develop new ideas around community engagement with people who can actively engage with research
  • building on existing or new networks to develop impact opportunities and inform and support further the professional development of researchers
  • potentially convene AHRC-funded researchers and large research investments as a catalyst for coordinating ideas and thinking which could help scope our potential new collaborative opportunities
  • collaborate with stakeholders through a potential placement or privileged access to the BBC to develop professional or transferable skills. For the historical-focused fellowship this could involve working with independent research organisations that hold BBC-related archival material, fellow researchers that have worked in this space, and with the BBC itself
  • potentially explore the scoping of future new research questions and ideas that could form the basis of a follow up AHRC discovery research open call proposal. Activities in this area should only be a small part of your fellowship and not come at the expense of delivering wider engagement activities.

Additional requirements

As these fellowships are impact and engagement focused, funding for substantial new research is not permissible. Synthesis of existing research may be in scope where the value and relevance to the proposed programme of engagement can be clearly demonstrated. Any programme of engagement should be built around existing outputs that the applicant feels would have further impact potential in the context of the BBC centenary.

A core part of the fellowships will be the use of partnerships at a local, regional, national or UK level to deliver activity.

Ideally, the fellows will have at least some existing relationships in place with the networks, platforms or partners necessary to deliver their programme of engagement, as the fellowship will not provide substantial time for the development of new partnerships. However, there is budget available in the opportunity to work with new partners and AHRC will be able to facilitate links with, for example:

  • the BBC
  • Science and Media Museum (which is hosting an exhibition in Bradford)
  • the Creative Industries Clusters programme
  • wider communities of AHRC-funded researchers in the creative industries
  • the Edinburgh Television Festival.

Applicants will need to evidence the networks and relationships that they already have in place when applying.

Applicants should outline how they plan to engage with partner organisations and communities (either place based or thematic). This could include, but is not limited to:

  • the general public
  • place-based communities and informal communities of interest
  • institutions, including businesses, cultural institutions, think tanks and the media
  • new disciplinary networks that have been identified as having potential for collaboration in the topic area.

Applicants do not need to engage with all these groups, but should ensure that all stakeholders relevant to their focus have been considered and that plans for engagement activities, tailored to the needs of the different stakeholders, are set out clearly in the application.

Applicants should make clear:

  • which audiences they plan to engage
  • how they plan to do so
  • how this interaction will benefit the communities they work with, their research and their discipline more widely.

The planned programme of engagement must evidence how it will advance discussions of the broadcast media more generally, and enrich and strengthen the project partners and communities involved.

We also encourage collaboration with other researchers and other disciplines, as well as the other fellow on this scheme. We anticipate that there will be opportunities for both fellows to come together and interact, as well as work individually.

Guidance on costs and project timescales

The duration of the fellowship must be 12 months.

The maximum limit for applications is £150,000 (full economic cost). AHRC will fund 80% of the costs.

The start date of the fellowship must be 1 January 2022.

No costs associated with generating new research outputs are permitted. Costs are predominantly expected to relate to the programme of impact and engagement activities proposed and should be fully justified in the application.

Costs associated with ensuring the accessibility of outputs and events are encouraged.

Salary costs for the fellow are permissible and should be proportionate to the proposed programme of activity.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 22 September 2021 16:00 and will need to go through the appropriate institution submission process.

When applying select:

  • council: AHRC
  • document type: Fellowship Proposal
  • scheme: AHRC Fellowships
  • call/type/mode: AHRC BBC Engagement Fellowships 22 September 2021.

The following are a list of attachments that are permitted for this opportunity. Unless otherwise stated, please see section 4 of the AHRC research funding guide for further information about these attachments.

Case for support


No more than seven sides of A4. Early career researchers are allowed an additional page to outline eligibility.

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

  1. Summary of the proposed fellowship
  2. How it addresses the aims of the opportunity
  3. Proposed programme of engagement
  4. Audience and partners
  5. Monitoring and evaluation
  6. Overall impact of the work
  7. Statement of eligibility (if early career researcher)

Curriculum vitae

Compulsory for the fellow and any named researchers.

No more than two sides of A4 each.

Please tailor to the aims of the scheme and outline any selected outputs, publications or engagement activity relevant to the fellowship.

Justification of resources

Compulsory, no more than two sides of A4.

Data management plan

Compulsory, no more than two sides of A4.

Project partner letter of support

Compulsory for each named project partner.

No more than two sides of A4 each.

Visual evidence

Optional: for non-textual evidence in support of the proposal.

Should not include Gantt charts of work plans.

No more than two sides of A4.

Work plan

Optional, no more than one side of A4

By submitting an application, you consent to AHRC sharing your information with the BBC for the purposes of this scheme.

How we will assess your application

Your proposal will be assessed against the aims of the opportunity with the following criteria taken into account:

  • the quality and appropriateness of the public engagement activities proposed
  • the distinctive arts and humanities contribution of the fellowship
  • the quality and importance of your research and public engagement work to date and its relevance to the proposed fellowship
  • how successfully you have articulated how you will use the fellowship to translate and transform existing research into valuable new forms
  • evidence of the strength, robustness and equitability of the relationships with the proposed partners to date, and your commitment and the commitment of your partners to the aims and objectives of the fellowship and its shared benefits
  • the significance and importance of the project, and of the contribution it will make, if successful, to enhancing or developing public and policy discourse on its chosen topic
  • the contribution the fellowship will make to generating a wider base of knowledge accessible to the public and any affected communities or interest group
  • your plans for monitoring and evaluating your proposed activities.

Applications will be considered by an assessment panel drawn from AHRC’s peer review college, along with other peer reviewers and other experts in areas relevant to the focus of this opportunity.

Applications will be assessed directly at the panel meeting. There will be no separate peer review or principal investigator response stage for this opportunity.

Contact details

For queries about this opportunity, such as eligible activities and costs or remit, please contact AHRC at

For queries on using Je-S, such as creating and submitting the application form or Je-S account creation, please contact the Je-S helpdesk at

Additional info


The BBC has become integral to our collective cultural life and has played an important part in telling the UK’s story since the first broadcast moment back in 1922, when the BBC started its first daily radio service in London.

The BBC’s broadcast eco-system touches all four nations of the UK, creating a sense of commonality and community. Its people, programmes and pioneering technology have helped to transform the way we get our news and understand the world around us.

Its TV programmes have also influenced and caught the imagination of viewers across the globe, from Top Gear to Blue Planet 2 which helped to fundamentally change attitudes to plastic waste in the oceans.

From its earliest days, the BBC has been at the forefront of technological changes that have affected the way that we live our lives, from the world’s first regular TV service in 1936, through the introduction of colour TV in the late 1960s, followed by the early adoption of the web and the groundbreaking iPlayer.

Today, new technological changes have emerged with the rise of online streaming competitors, podcasting, smartphones and tablets, and in the future may include augmented and virtual reality.

The BBC has a long history of interrogating and considering its own past, both internally and in collaboration with the research community, and these fellowships continue this tradition.

The centenary of the BBC provides an ideal opportunity for the fellows to engage communities and partners with the history of this broadcast institution and its role in the rapidly changing media landscape of the future, as well as how it is responding to an increasingly diverse and globally-focused Britain.

AHRC has funded many research projects with the BBC as a formal partner or with a link to the BBC as the subject of research. We also have links to the BBC through the Creative Industries Clusters programme, the New Generation Thinkers scheme and the Forgotten Composers series, as well as through the partnership with the Edinburgh Television Festival.

There would be an opportunity, with the support of AHRC, to convene and engage with the researchers that led on these projects to support community and partnership engagement.

Scheme requirements and post-award reporting

Unless otherwise stated, the scheme requirements and post award reporting as stated in the AHRC research funding guide will apply. This should include sharing regular updates with the AHRC public engagement team and ensuring the full credits linked to AHRC are used in all activities including:

  • social media
  • digital outputs
  • events or engagement activities.

Further guidance will be shared with the successful candidates.

Award holders will be required to submit outputs, outcomes and impacts that arise from AHRC’s funding through the researchfish system. Information can be added to researchfish at any point once the award has started, but award holders will also be required to ‘submit’ this information to AHRC at one ‘submission period’ each year.

Award holders will receive an email with log-in details to researchfish shortly after their award has started.

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