​This site uses cookies. By continuing, you consent to the placement of cookies on your computer or device.
Twitter - opens in a new window Facebook - opens in a new window YouTube - opens in a new window Email - opens in an email client RSS Feeds - opens in a new window

Design Research

Design has been identified by the AHRC as a strategic priority in our 2011-15 delivery plan and we have developed a programme of complementary activity to explore this. The AHRC strategy 2013-18 restates this commitment through enhanced partnership working with related organisations and bodies and it is in this collaborative context that the current programme of funding opportunities has been formulated.  

Design Council Collaboration

AHRC have been working in partnership with the Design Council over the last two years to look at design research in UK universities, and its connection with businesses and policymakers. Together we commissioned a wide-ranging review of the design landscape and available literature. Following an initial broad scoping study, we decided to focus our attention on service design and innovation in services. Both studies can be found on the Design Council website here:

Initial scoping study (Design Council pdf 307KB opens in new window)

You can view the full Scoping Study on Service Design report here (PDF 716KB, opens in new window)

We have produced an animation to illustrate one of the key aims of the partnership:

The Value of Design (opens in new window) 

Innovate UK Design Special Interest Group

The AHRC is also working with Innouvate UK on their Design Special Interest Group, looking at the ways in which Design contributes to innovation in the UK’s business and industrial sectors:

Design Special Interest Group (opens in new window)  

Funding Schemes

Bristol and Bath design research project

The AHRC are looking for a multi-disciplinary research team, including design expertise, to carry out an in-depth study examining how businesses and public sector organisations in the Bristol and Bath area use design to drive innovation and increase economic performance. View the Bristol and Bath design research funding opportunity page. 

Design Fellowships

This call offers design researchers the chance to work in collaboration with a business or public sector organisation that is interested in putting design principles into practice. The Fellowship will fund design researchers to spend up to 12 months embedded in such organisations. The successful fellows will be able to undertake a research project whilst having unique access to the resources, experiences and networks of the partner organisation. The AHRC and ESRC have developed a partnership with three organisations that are interested in hosting a funded Design Fellow within their organisation: The Design Council, Skills Development Scotland and The Cabinet Office Open Policy Making Team. Applicants are also able to apply to this call in collaboration with an alternative host organisation or business of their choice.

View the Design Fellowships funding opportunity page

Closing date – 24/4/2014

Research Grants highlight for Connected Communities and design

The aim of this highlight notice is to encourage innovative applications which further explore the contributions that design can make to the Connected Communities Programme. It seeks to encourage the development of research proposals that connect communities, designers and arts and humanities researchers in the co-design and co-production of research.

View the Connected Communities and Design page

Call is now closed and currently under assessment.

Responsive Mode 

We are keen to point out that the above calls are not the extent of AHRC support for design. We are always happy to see design proposals come in via our Responsive Mode schemes: Research Grants, Fellowships and Research Networking, all of which operate without formal deadlines so proposals can be submitted at any time.

AHRC funded research in design

UnBox 2014: The UnBox LABS 2014 is an exciting project that brings together creative practitioners, artists and researchers from the UK & India for a 10-day lab experience that explores the theme of 'FUTURE CITIES'. The project is a collaboration between UnBox, British Council, the AHRC, Science & Innovation Network, supported by the REACT Creative Economy Hub and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. Find out more about successful applicants.

Design in Action: KE Hub led by the University of Dundee in partnership with Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Gray’s School of Art, University of Abertay and the University of St Andrews. Design in Action website (opens in new window).

The Creative Exchange: KE Hub led by Lancaster University in partnership with the University of Newcastle and the Royal College of Art. The Creative Exchange website (opens in new window).

Design Against Crime led by UaL: Central Saint Martins. Find out about Design Against Crime.

Design for Wellbeing: Ageing and Mobility in the Built Environment: in partnership with the EPSRC and ESRC. EPSRC Design for Wellbeing webpage

Designing for the 21st Century: in partnership with the EPSRC, led by the University of Dundee. Find out about Designing for the 21st Century.

Collaborative Doctoral Awards in Design 2014: Click here to see a list of funded projects (PDF 90KB, opens in new window).

Design in Innovation: Research Development Funding: Click here to see a list of funded projects (PDF 115KB, opens in new window).


Dylan Law, Portfolio Manager (Creative and Performing Arts)

d.law@ahrc.ac.uk or 01793 416028

Russell Leake, Programme Co-ordinator (Creative and Performing Arts)

r.leake@ahrc.ac.uk or 01793 416039

The AHRC works with the UK SBS (Shared Business Service) to deliver all of our funding activities.

Enquiries about Je-S registration or completing proposal forms should be directed to grants@ssc.rcuk.ac.uk or 01793 444 164