Highlight Notice: Public Policy in the Leadership Fellows Scheme

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AHRC has launched a highlight notice in its Leadership Fellow scheme as part of a range of activities to support the contribution which arts and humanities research can make to public policy. The Highlight notice will run until 30 September 2016.

Highlight notices are intended to stimulate proposals under specified themes /strategic priorities in order to rapidly advance thinking or collaboration in these areas. Highlight notices are offered as opportunities within existing AHRC research schemes and are therefore assessed under the same criteria and assessment process. Find out more about our current Highlight Notices.

The aim of this highlight notice is to encourage applications to the Leadership Fellows scheme which propose innovative ways to exercise leadership through engaging policy makers in their research, and explore the potential for impact in policy development. This can be in connection with any area of public policy.

Public policy in this context is understood broadly to include government at local, regional or national levels, as well as in connection with international governance bodies. Equally it covers the policies adopted by major civil society and third-sector organisations, such as major charities or charity partnerships, professional associations etc., which effectively have a role in setting policy in areas which impact public life.

While proposals are welcome in any area of public policy, AHRC has been working with the Chief Scientific Advisors in Whitehall and devolved administrations to identify policy areas where input from arts and humanities researchers are particularly welcome. These areas, along with contact details for the Departments involved, are available in this Highlight Notice document (PDF, 157KB).

The Leadership Fellows scheme is well suited to enabling researchers to explore new research alongside collaborative engagement with policy makers. It is designed to support research leadership in a flexible way, through, for example:

  • funding for sustained engagement with a policy body, or government department, and a period of embedded work with them
  • developing a suite of research seminars within a department
  • bringing policy makers into universities to build relationships with researchers
  • activities to bring policy makers or wider community stakeholders together to participate in discussions linked to the Fellow’s research

Applicants will need to clearly articulate leadership activities connected to their research proposal, demonstrating how these activities enhance the transformational potential of their research, and its policy influence and importance. In keeping with the RCUK commitment to maintain the highest standards in research integrity, proposals should include a declaration of any affiliations which may give rise to the perception of a potential conflict of interest in regard to the independence of their proposed research.

AHRC’s Leadership Fellows scheme has Early Career and Standard routes, and operates as a partnership with the Research Organisation. Applicants should discuss any potential application with their Research Organisation at an early stage, as strong evidence of institutional support for the individual and their proposal is required as part of the application process. Equally, for proposals under this highlight notice, clear support from the policy bodies involved should be provided through a letter of support.

Closing Dates

Closing Date: 30/09/2016

This highlight notice runs in the Leadership Fellows scheme until 30 September 2016.

Applications are now being accepted. 

Please note that the assessment process for applications submitted to the scheme (Standard and Early Career routes) takes approximately 30 weeks and the earliest start date for a project should be no earlier than 9 months after submission to the AHRC. 

On occasions, there might be a delay in obtaining the peer reviews for an application and this may result in the assessment process taking longer. In such circumstances, the AHRC will contact the applicant to inform them of any delay.

How to make an application

For both routes of the Fellowships scheme you must submit an application through the cross-council Joint Electronic Submission - (JE-S) System. If you need any assistance to use the system, please contact the JE-S helpdesk by telephoning 01793 444164 or on JesHelp@rcuk.ac.uk.

Further Information

The Research Funding Guide

Leadership and Peer Review College: Members of the Strategic Reviewer Group of the AHRC’s Peer Review College met in February at two separate meetings. One of the areas they discussed was leadership in the context of the Fellowship Scheme and a PDF has been produced to summarise their comments (PDF) (PDF, 121KB).

Impact Summary and Pathways to Impact: - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) (PDF, 178KB)

RCUK Impact Requirements - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Examples of Impact from AHRC-funded projects (PDF) (PDF, 296KB)

Support for Research Leadership

The AHRC has produced a film on Leadership in the Arts and Humanities, which is available here.


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 SBS team dealing with your subject area using the contacts page.

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