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Funding Opportunities

Collaborative Doctoral Awards


Scheme Summary

Collaborative Doctoral Awards are intended to encourage and develop collaboration and partnerships between Higher Education Institution (HEI) departments and non-HEI organisations and businesses.

These awards provide opportunities for doctoral students to gain first hand experience of work outside the university environment. The support provided by both a university and non-university supervisor enhances the employment-related skills and training a research student gains during the course of their award.

The studentships also encourage and establish links that can have long-term benefits for both collaborating partners, providing access to resources and materials, knowledge and expertise that may not otherwise have been available and also provide social, cultural and economic benefits to wider society.

The AHRC are keen to see innovative applications that build diverse relationships with the non-HEI sectors. There have been many CDA awards made for collaborations with larger museums and organisations however the AHRC would like to encourage further proposals to work with businesses, regional museums, regional arts organisations and community groups.

Any topic within the AHRC’s subject domain is eligible. Selection of successful applications will not be subject to quota systems and there are no priority areas, however, PhD proposals which address AHRC’s research themes are encouraged.

Highlight Notices for 2015

We welcome applications across all subject areas within AHRC remit under the Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme.

For the 2015 round of the CDA scheme, we would like to encourage applications in the areas of Design and Connected Communities, so there are highlight notices in place in these two areas.  Up to 5 additional awards will be available to support high quality proposals in these fields. 

Design Highlight Notice

Under this highlight notice we are particularly interested in receiving proposals for PhD research within AHRC remit that explores the role of design in service innovation and social innovation. This could involve embedding a design doctoral student in a business or public sector organisation where the application of ‘design thinking’ principles to business challenges can be of mutual benefit to both parties. The successful doctoral student will be able to undertake their research in the context of the resources, experience and challenges of the partner organisation, while the organisation will benefit from having access to a research student who can bring the specialist knowledge, understanding of the user perspective and problem-solving skills of their discipline to the organisation’s operations. The collaboration might focus on demonstrating the value of design thinking to business and public service delivery, to policy development or to social innovation.

CDA partner organisations on Design proposals may be in the public, private or third sectors. We appreciate that smaller businesses may not have the capacity to host a CDA award individually, so we would encourage small groups of businesses to collaborate to support a single CDA award. These can be built on existing links or completely new partnerships.

Connected Communities Highlight Notice

Under this highlight notice, we are particularly interested in receiving proposals for PhD research within the AHRC remit that addresses the aims, objectives and themes of the Connected Communities programme.  Further information on the Connected Communties Programme can be found on our website

Each HEI can submit up to two proposals to this call (though each proposal may request funding for multiple, linked PhD projects). For those HEIs submitting one or more applications under the Design or Connected Communities highlight notices they will be allowed to submit up to three applications (or up to four, if proposals are submitted under both). Please note that in order to be eligible to submit three proposals, at least one application must fall within one of the highlight notices; in order to be eligible to submit four proposals, there must be at least one proposal under each of the two highlight notices.

The guidance for the CDA Open Call for awards starting in October 2015 can now be found below. 

CDA 2015 Scheme Guidance (PDF 212KB, opens in new window)

Closing Dates


In response to feedback from previous applicants and Universities, and in the harmonisation of timetables for CDA/CASE awards across the research councils, the CDA scheme opening and closing dates have been moved to be earlier this year than in previous rounds.  This allows for a significantly earlier outcome date which we hope will allow organisations more time to recruit the best quality applicants to the studentships.

How to make an application

Proposals are submitted using the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic Submission - (JE-S) System (opens in a new window). The application form will be available in JeS from Tuesday 6th May 2014.  The closing date for applications is 4.00pm on Wednesday 9th July 2014.

Please take care to select the JeS call: “Collaborative Doctoral Awards Open Call 9 July 2014” as you will not be able to submit proposals prepared under another heading.

If you need any further assistance to use the system, please contact the Je-s Helpdesk on 01793 444164 or on JeSHelp@rcuk.ac.uk.

AHRC, MRC, STFC, NERC and BBSRC have aligned their annual call dates to allow applicants time to re-submit their proposal to the current round and to the specified Research Council should their proposal be considered to be out of remit.

Applicants are reminded that their project must be within the remit of the Council to which they are applying. Applicants may not have the same application under consideration by more than one Research Council at any time. If in doubt, applicants should consult the relevant Council’s contact well before the submission deadline to confirm which Research Council is best placed to consider their proposal. 

Further Information

Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDP)

In addition to the existing Open call the AHRC has now made awards for Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDP). Through this route Non-HEI Organisations with a strong track record in the CDA scheme, are allocated a cohort of CDA studentships for the next three academic years for which they will then be able to nominate projects with academic partners. The AHRC have made 55 studentships per year available through this route with the intention of giving partners greater autonomy and the ability to develop strong programmes of PhD study.

Applications prepared in collaboration with Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award holders should be submitted directly to the partner organisation as they will not be eligible to the open call.

The following attachment shows the organisations successful in gaining a CDP award, the number of studentships they have been allocated in their annual cohort and contact details for enquires.

Download outcomes with Contact Details (PDF 69kb) (opens in a new window)

The call for applications for Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships has now closed, a list of successful award holders can be found below.

Collaborative Doctoral Awards 2014

Download outcomes from the tenth round of CDA - 2014 (PDF 18.7kb) (opens in new window)

Projects funded in previous rounds of the Collaborative Doctoral Awards


Download outcomes from the eighth round of CDA- 2012 (PDF 88kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the seventh round of CDA- 2011 (PDF 103kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the sixth round of CDA- 2010 (PDF 142kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the fifth round of CDA- 2009 (PDF 94kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the fourth round of CDA- 2008 (PDF 19kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the third round of CDA- 2007 (PDF 26kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the second round of CDA- 2006 (PDF 26kb) (opens in a new window)

Download outcomes from the first round of CDA- 2005 (PDF 28kb) (opens in a new window)

Research Training Framework

In 2004 the AHRC introduced a framework of research training requirements for its doctoral award holders.

Training Grant Funding Guide (PDF 498kb) (opens in new window)

Terms and Conditions of RCUK Training Grants (PDF 255kb) (opens in new window)

RCUK Training Grant Guide (PDF 174kb) (opens in new window)

Guidelines for Use of Research Training Support Grant (PDF 78kb) (opens in a new window)


​The AHRC work with the UK Shared Business Services (UK SBS)  to deliver all of our funding activities. All queries regarding eligibility for funding and applications in progress and also queries regarding current awards, should be directed to the UK SBS team dealing with your subject area using the contacts page.