The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is deeply committed to doctoral training and securing the future of the next generation of arts and humanities researchers.
AHRC has been developing our provision for students who will commence from October 2026. In 2021 AHRC commissioned the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC)/Vitae to undertake a community engagement exercise to help inform our thinking around the future of doctoral provision in the arts and humanities.
In February 2023 we published CRAC/Vitae’s report of the key findings.
We have considered the findings in the wider and complex context of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) move towards collective talent funding, UKRI’s New Deal for Postgraduate Researchers and AHRC’s commitment to rebalancing our research portfolio. Further details of this context are available in Professor Christopher Smith’s blog released alongside the report.
We have developed a set of principles for our Future Doctoral Provision Programme:
- widening opportunities and welcoming innovative and diverse routes to doctoral training
- enabling collaborative learning and peer support
- enabling professional development and expanded skills capacity for the UK’s future workforce
- reducing bureaucracy
- supporting and advocating for arts and humanities doctoral students in UKRI’s Collective Talent Fund to deliver doctoral training in accordance with the AHRC vision
The principles have formed the basis for our new funding mechanisms for doctoral training (see Student experience is at the heart of our new doctoral awards for more context).
These opportunities will be supporting studentships from October 2026. They align with the UKRI doctoral investment framework and fall into the broader categories of doctoral landscape awards and doctoral focal awards.
The programme comprises:
- doctoral focal awards
- doctoral landscape awards, which include:
- landscape awards
- Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships
Doctoral focal awards
Doctoral focal awards in the arts and humanities support postgraduate studentships focused on strategically important areas of research skills needs, closely linked to the AHRC vision, mission, and theory of change.
We will provide them as block grant awards to consortia of higher education institutions (HEIs). There will be mandatory inclusion of partner organisations beyond academia, to enable the students to acquire skills for a wide range of careers. We are looking for equitable partnerships between HEIs and non-HEIs. We will award these grants on a competitive basis.
There are two strategic areas in the 2023 funding opportunity:
- the arts and humanities for a healthy planet, people and place
- the arts and humanities for creative economy
See the current funding opportunity in the AHRC Future Doctoral Provision programme.
Doctoral landscape awards
The doctoral landscape awards will support postgraduate studentships across the breadth of AHRC’s subject remit. We will provide them as block grant awards made to higher education institutions (HEIs).
We will be introducing a formula approach to determine which HEIs will be allocated these awards in the Future Doctoral Provision programme. This funding formula has been designed to ensure good regional coverage across the UK. We will be running the funding formula process in spring 2024 and aim to inform successful HEIs in the summer of 2024.
Alongside the landscape awards, we will be supporting regional hubs. The hubs will provide added value training for students, opportunities for networking and a route for sharing good practice.
Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDP)
The awards scheme enables non-higher education institutions to support collaborative doctoral projects aligned to their strategy.
These studentships give students opportunities to acquire skills for a wide range of careers by undertaking a joint research project with a university and non-university partner, including a period working in the CDP award-holding organisation, gaining direct experience in the sector.
We will continue our support for the CDP scheme in the Future Doctoral Provision programme, with block grants awarded on a competitive basis.
Read about the history of Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships, student feedback and CDP partners before the commencement of the Future Doctoral Provision programme.
Last updated: 20 December 2023