AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

CDP students British Library

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

We are particularly keen to exploit the potential of collaborative doctoral research 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).

Application process 

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

The selection of HEI academic partners is overseen by a panel comprised of Library staff and external academic representatives. Assessment takes account of:

  • The academic validity and timeliness of the proposed development of the research theme
  • The expertise of the applicant, the wider research and training environment of the HEI, and how well this complements Library collections, resources or expertise;
  • Plans to manage co-supervision with the Library and support the student’s training and development needs;
  • The potential of the applicant and HEI to work with the British Library to promote research impact and support UKRI strategy and vision and the overarching aims of the AHRC CDP scheme;
  • The commitment of the HEI to PhD recruitment policies that aim to enhance student diversity

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

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

Student recruitment and funding 

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 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. 

Further details 

Our strategic research themes and the application timetable and full guidelines for the current round of CDP projects are available here.