Who AHRC is

At the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) we fund world-class, independent research in subjects from philosophy and the creative industries, to art conservation and product design.

Our research addresses some of society’s biggest challenges, such as tackling modern slavery, exploring the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, and understanding what it is to be human. See the full range of the research we fund on our remit, programmes and priorities page.

Our vision

Everything humans have ever thought, said, designed or performed falls into the remit of arts and humanities. We study what it is to be human, and the conditions that allow us to flourish or falter. All human history is in our scope, but so are the challenges of the present and the possibilities for the future.

AHRC is the UK’s largest provider of response-led and strategic funding, advanced skills training and career development across the whole range of arts and humanities.

AHRC vision objectives

Our ambition is to sustain a rich, diverse and creative research ecosystem, which will engage with other constituents of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and stakeholders across the UK and the world.

AHRC is committed to UKRI’s holistic vision of science, in which arts and humanities research is enriched and emboldened by engagement with technology, medicine and our environment, and informs and enriches those disciplines in turn.

We will place our values, creativity and imagination at the heart of the reinvention of public life, successful economies, constructive civil discourse and a rich cultural infrastructure.

AHRC reflects and supports a hugely diverse research community. We fund world-class research in all the UK’s regions and nations, distributing funds without detriment to excellence. We are committed to international connectivity and to promoting and embodying values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

We have spearheaded a successful collaboration of public and private partners in the creative industries. This draws on the strength of content and creativity among our researchers and independent research organisations (IROs) to provide business-facing and innovative outcomes, many of which have proved essential through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will embed this success into transforming AHRC’s aims and objectives, to carry forward UKRI’s mission to convene, catalyse and invest to build a thriving and inclusive research and innovation system, involving research that connects discovery to prosperity and public good.

Read about our objectives.

Theory of change

To help us to achieve our vision and deliver on our strategic delivery plan, we have developed a theory of change.

This theory of change sets out the differences that we want to make as an organisation. It details how, through new activities, new thinking, and close working with partners and our research community, we plan to get there.

It has been crafted in partnership with key stakeholders and, while aspirational, it is grounded in the reality of AHRC’s available resources and capitalises on our existing strengths.

We will use the theory of change to guide us over the coming years in fundamental ways. It will help us to answer questions of strategic prioritisation and to help maximise the impact of the activities that we fund. We will use it to:

  • help inform our monitoring and evaluation processes
  • keep our investments on track
  • ensure that we can tell the best stories about their value and importance

Crucially, we invite our partners and collaborators to use our theory of change to:

  • engage with our goals as an organisation
  • help us deliver shared priorities
  • help to hold us accountable

The vision and theory of change show how AHRC, as part of UKRI, can work with the research and innovation community to make a difference in the world.

Read more about AHRC’s theory of change.

What we do

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class researchers in a wide range of arts and humanities areas, from philosophy and the creative industries to art conservation and product design.

Our research addresses some of society’s biggest challenges such as tackling modern slavery and understanding the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. It also drives growth in the creative economy, and reveals new stories from the national collections held in the UK’s world-renowned museums and galleries.

Our priorities

  • Contemporary challenges: analysing the present, and learning lessons from the past to shape a better future
  • Creative economy: research supporting the recovery and growth of the cultural and creative economy
  • Cultural assets: conserving, curating and maximising the impact of our museums, galleries, libraries and archives so our national collections are accessible to all
  • Discovering ourselves: supporting cutting-edge rigorous enquiry-led research with international impact that leads to new discoveries and helps us understand ourselves and the world.

Our funding

AHRC awards around £110 million of funding each year to researchers at higher education institutions including UK universities and independent research organisations such as the British Library, Tate, and Historic Environment Scotland.

Our funding is provided by the UK government through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, via UK Research and Innovation, which brings together the UK’s nine leading academic and industrial funding councils, including AHRC.

Applications for funding are reviewed by AHRC’s Peer Review College, around 1,000 academics with expertise in areas of research relevant to each submission. AHRC funds around 300 research projects every year.

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Last updated: 28 November 2023

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