AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

CDP students British Library

AHRC PhD studentships are available each year to support collaborative research projects drawing on our collections, resources and expertise.

Collaborative doctoral research projects allow us to:

  • capitalise on the breadth, depth and cross-disciplinary relevance of our collection;
  • support and stimulate emerging research methodologies;
  • generate accessible research resources which open up the British Library to broad user audiences;
  • explore the contemporary resonance of our collection in national and international contexts;
  • promote use of our collection in combination with collections based at other Independent Research Organisations;
  • engage staff and researchers from backgrounds or communities that are currently under-represented in the programme (and/or within UK humanities PhD research more generally).

Research themes 

We select a limited number of strategic CDP research themes each year through internal staff consultation. This takes account of wider strategic commitments as outlined in our strategy Living Knowledge

External call for Higher Education Partners  

Following selection of our research themes, we  issue an open call for proposals from academics at UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) interested in co-supervising doctoral research around one of these themes. Academics are invited to develop the theme according to their own research interests and expertise. The call window is usually open in the autumn, for projects starting in October of the following year.

The selection of academic partners (one for each of the CDP studentships) is overseen by a panel comprised of Library staff and one or more external academic representatives.

The assessment panel will consider the following criteria:

  • the development of the research theme by the applicant and how well this complements British Library collections, resources or expertise;
  • how well the proposal fits the overarching aims and objectives of the AHRC CDP scheme;
  • how well the proposal fits the applicant’s research interests and expertise;
  • the ability of the applicant/the HEI to manage co-supervision with the Library, and the track record of the applicant/the HEI in collaborating with non-HEI partners;
  • the ability of the applicant/the HEI to support the student’s academic progress, and promote research engagement and impact;
  • the ability of the applicant/the HEI to support the student’s wider training and development needs and offer overall support and pastoral care;
  • the applicant’s/HEI’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in its student recruitment processes.

Once selected, the HEI academic supervisor(s) may further refine the research topic with the Library supervisor(s) in order for each partner to gain maximum benefit from the collaboration.

Student recruitment 

Our HEI partners receive and administer the funds from the AHRC for the studentship and, in collaboration with the Library, oversee the recruitment, research and training of the student. 

All our CDP studentships must be advertised in open competition. Standard UKRI eligibility criteria apply. Studentships are awarded for up to 4 years to allow time for the student to take up complementary training and skills development opportunities that are agreed as part of their PhD programme. 

We provide the student with staff-level access to our collections, expertise and facilities, as well as financial support for research-related costs of up to £1,000 a year. 

The student also benefits from the dedicated programme of professional development events delivered by the Library in tandem with the other museums, galleries and heritage organisations affiliated to the CDP scheme. 

Once recruited, the successful PhD candidate will contribute to the development of the final agreed research project.