UCL News


UCL excellence recognised by Arts & Humanities Research Council

9 March 2009


The Wilkins Library ucl.ac.uk/research/" target="_self">UCL ResearchAHRC

The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the principal funding body for postgraduate research in the Arts and Humanities in the UK, has awarded UCL with funding for 447 research posts over the next five years as part of new Block Grant Partnership (BGP) Scheme. 

Although comparative data will not be published for another month, the AHRC has confirmed that UCL was "one of the most successful" of the 48 institutions which will be receiving BGP funding, winning 81% of posts submitted.

Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector, and the news follows an announcement made by Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation, that the Government will be investing £199 million in the Arts and Humanities over the next five years, to create a total of over 6,500 new MA and PhD places.

The UCL allocation will fund 176 PhD and 271 MA awards. UCL's bid for one of the AHRC's BGPs was deemed to have "shown strong evidence of excellent strategic planning for, and delivery of, high-quality postgraduate research and training in the arts and humanities".

Professor Henry Woudhuysen, Dean of UCL Arts & Humanities, says: "Our success in gaining such a high percentage of awards recognizes the quality of research in the Arts and Humanities at UCL and richly reflects the Faculty's commitment to graduate teaching and research."

UCL submitted a bid for 554 posts for the five-year period, of which a substantial 81% were granted. The final allocations were made after an exhaustive peer review process followed by a three-day review session by a Moderating Panel of 18 members from across the UK Arts and Humanities research community. The Panel praised UCL's "large and complex bid", which "provid[ed] evidence of strengths in many areas".

Head of the UCL Graduate School, Professor David Bogle, who led the UCL team in this process, said: "In the context of a drop in the overall number of awards (made in total by the AHRC this year), I think we can be justly proud of the bid and the strength of the Arts and Humanities at UCL."

The BPG not only enables UCL to design long-term plans for postgraduate research and training, but also allows it to exercise a greater degree of freedom in their selection of those candidates who are best served with funding for their MA and PhD degrees in the course of the next five years.

Areas in which UCL particularly excelled on this occasion were:

  • Archaeology
  • English Language & Literature
  • History
  • History of Art, Architecture & Design
  • Linguistics and
  • Philosophy.

Posts were allocated in 23 of the 33 AHRC categories, corresponding to 25 of UCL's departments. These fall mainly within the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, with significant numbers in the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and Social & Historical Sciences, and some in the Built Environment, Laws, Life Sciences, and Mathematical & Physical Sciences.


UCL Context

The funding granted to UCL in the 23 AHRC categories benefits the following UCL departments: Anthropology, Institute of Archaeology, Bartlett School of Architecture, Dutch, East European Languages & Culture (SSEES), English Language & Literature, Centre for European Studies, French, Geography, German, Greek & Latin, Hebrew & Jewish Studies, History, History of Art, Centre for Intercultural Studies, Information Studies, Italian, Laws, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, Russian Studies (SSEES), Scandinavian Studies, Science & Technology Studies, Slade School of Fine Art, South-East European Studies (SSEES), Spanish & Latin American Studies, and the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. To find out how to apply for funding from UCL's BGP allocation, please see the individual departments' web pages.

Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.


Comments from some of the Heads of the successful departments and schools:

Dr Robin Aizlewood, Director of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)

"With the award of 15 studentships in the field of Russian, Slavonic and East European language and culture, the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies has confirmed its position as the major centre of excellence in the UK for postgraduate training in our field. SSEES also joined with UCL History in the successful award in this subject area too.

SSEES's success in other recent postgraduate initiatives, such as the UCL-led inter-university Centre for East European Language Based Area Studies and an international Master's recognised by Erasmus Mundus, shows how we lead the way not only in our various disciplines but also in advancing interdisciplinarity - and I was delighted that the strategic thinking underlying such success helped inform UCL's overarching strategy for the humanities in the Block Grant bid."

Professor Stephen Shennan, Head of the UCL Institute of Archaeology

"It's great to see the long-standing success of Institute of Archaeology students in obtaining AHRC awards recognised in the allocation of the new Block Grant studentships."

Professor Susan Irvine, Head of UCL English Language & Literature

"My colleagues and I are very pleased that English has received a substantial number of awards for the next five years as part of the AHRC's Block Grant Partnership scheme. The result will ensure that we can continue to provide high-quality postgraduate research and training across the whole subject area of English language and literature."

Professor Nicola Miller, Head of UCL History

"It is good to see that the strength of the research culture in History at UCL has been recognised by the decision to grant this comparatively high number of awards. Historians in the Department of History, the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, and Science and Technology Studies offer a remarkable range of expertise for students wishing to pursue postgraduate study. Graduate students make an invaluable contribution both to their departments and to the vitality of the discipline as a whole. In a context in which the contribution of the arts and humanities not only to the cultural life of the UK but also to its economic wellbeing is increasingly being recognised, we trust that funding for both taught MA students and research students will remain a top priority for the AHRC and the government."

Professor Tamar Garb, Head of UCL History of Art

"I was chair of the group for History of Art, Architecture and Design which represented my own department (Art History) and the Slade and the Bartlett. We were delighted to have been awarded six studentships for our PhD programmes and are confident that the awards will contribute considerably to our flourishing research culture by funding home students. A core group of properly funded home students is essential for the future of our disciplines in this country and for the benefits that highly qualified graduates will bring to our society.

We were disappointed, though, at only being awarded 2 MA studentships. This we feel will harm prospects for research in our area at UCL and will not help to produce the cohort from which PhD students will be chosen in future years. For those we will have to depend on our competitors in other universities from whose graduates we will have to recruit."

Dr Hans van de Koot, Head of the UCL Research Department of Linguistics

"UCL Linguistics offers a vibrant environment for young researchers and we are pleased that the AHRC have recognised our strength in UCL's block grant award."