The Student Room Group

Future AHRC applicant - when can I start?

This is my first post here, so please forgive me if what I'm asking is obvious or has been asked before.

I am interested in pursuing a PhD in English Literature in the near future, and if at all possible, I would like to secure funding for this. I understand that the deadline for applying for AHRC funding this year was in January, so the earliest I would be able to start would be 2024.

The university where I would likely study (Leicester) has PhD intakes in January, April, July, and September each year. What isn't clear to me is whether I will now need to wait until September 2024 to start if I wish to apply for AHRC funding, or if it would be possible to apply for funding for a Jan/April/July start. Presumably applications will open again this autumn and I understand candidates are typically informed of the outcome of their application in April. Does this mean an April start would theoretically be possible, or have I completely missed the boat for the 2023/24 academic year, meaning I'll need to wait until September '24?

I am very confused about this and have struggled to find an answer online, so any advice that can be provided would be greatly appreciated.
(edited 10 months ago)
I only have experience with SGSAH, but it likely applies to all other AHRC consortia.

DTP funding is only granted for those starting their PhDs in the autumn semester. And normally you'll have two application processes running somewhat in parallel: an application for a PhD offer from your university, and an application for funding from the relevant AHRC consortium. In order to apply for AHRC funding with the consortia, you first need to apply for a place with the university and normally join an internal competition to have the university nominate you for AHRC funding. This normally happens between November and January, and IF the university nominates you, then you'll be able to apply for funding at around late January/early February, for a PhD starting in the next autumn semester. Then funding results typically come out between April/May, which is why there are so many stressed out people in this forum right now (myself included).

So yeah, it's a really drawn out process where we're expected to do everything far in advance and do a LOT of waiting. If you want to apply for the 24/25 cycle, I suggest you start contacting prospective supervisors and working on your application now, as you'll be expected to have a well-rounded proposal by November.

I realise I may not have been very clear, so:
November-December of the previous year: apply for a place in the university and enter the internal competition for an AHRC nomination
January-February: hopefully get an offer and a nomination, apply for AHRC funding with relevant consortia
April-May: hopefully get a funding offer and celebrate like crazy
September-October: start the PhD you applied for a year ago
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 2
Thanks so much, Victor - that's really helpful.
Original post by PlainsOfCement
Thanks so much, Victor - that's really helpful.


No worries! Writing this actually helped me take my mind away from SGSAH for five minutes, so thank you haha!
Reply 4
I succeeded on the second try. I applied for the cultural geography pathway at Durham, funded by Northern Bridge Consortium DTP (also AHRC). Below is my timeline for the second try (I already got a PhD unconditional offer during my first try. I deferred it for a year so I did not need to apply again):

early Oct 2022: contact the potential supervisor (the same one as my first try)
Oct 2022 - early Jan 2023: write/revise research proposal (~20 drafts☠️) >> I was doing a master's at the same time so definitely doable if you are free
early Nov 2022: NBC DTP information session & contact second supervisor
early Jan 2023: contact the organization that I want to collaborate with and secure letter of support (don't do that -- contact them as early as possible! I only decided to swtich to collaborative award in late December)
10 Jan 2023: submit nomination form to the department administrator
early Feb 2023: got feedback from the subject lead, revised and resubmitted
late April 2023: know that I succeeded through email (this was delayed due to strike)
early May 2023: got the formal award letter through email
Reply 5
I was awarded AHRC funding (specifically through Midlands4Cities, so the one you would be applying through for Leicester) to start in 2022, so am currently in the first year of my PhD. Like the previous poster mentioned, this was also my second attempt.

Applications tend to open in the first week or so of October. The deadline for M4C is normally the second week of January, but this deadline also includes your references submitting their part of the form. They can only write their references once you've submitted this, so you'll need to make sure you submit it in advance of the deadine to allow them time (especially as it falls very soon after the Christmas break). If they're still running the same system, you will have a interview in February (I think) with the head of PGRs from your prospective department, one of your supervisors and another academic working on a roughly related topic. This is to allow them to get a better idea of your project, and after this will determine whether you're going to be shortlisted for M4C funding. You'll find out whether you have been shortlisted towards the end of Feburary, and then final decisions normally come out in the last two weeks of April.

No matter what time of year you start your PhD, you need to apply for your funding by the January deadline so you unfortunately wouldn't be able to get M4C funding for the next academic year now. You can start your PhD and self-fund for a year and then apply for funding for your second year onwards, but a lot of supervisors don't recommend this as it means a) you have to self-fund for a year and b) there is no guarantee you will get the funding in your second year, and you can't apply for funding after this (unless you go part-time potentially? I don't know for sure though) as M4C will only allow you to apply for funding if you're less than 50% of the way through your programme by the time your funding starts.

Feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about M4C!
(edited 10 months ago)
Thank you both for your insights - much appreciated!
Reply 7
Seconding what the above posters said--no matter when you apply, AHRC funding only starts in the autumn (on my offer letter it says it starts in October). I imagine if you apply to your institution earlier you'll have the advantage of being able to work on your AHRC application more with your prospective supervisor.

I was fortunate to secure LAHP funding recently, and my timeline went something like this:
Late Nov: Submit PhD application to my institution (my program specified not to contact prospective supervisors before applying, some are different)
Early Jan: Interview for PhD at institution
Mid Jan: Got accepted for PhD at institution, they said I had to accept my offer before my supervisor starts helping with LAHP application
Late Jan: Submit LAHP application (research proposal+personal statement+supervisor statement) (my supervisor looked over about 3 drafts I think of my research proposal?)
~radio silence~
Early May: Offer letter from LAHP (no additional interview)
That’s helpful, thank you!
Hi @PlainsOfCement

Best of luck with your applications and sorry this may be coming to you a little late but do feel free to reach out to the academics in the relevant School you're looking at and also the Doctoral College ([email protected]). PhD funding landscape can be a little complicated and tricky but these people should be able to give you the most up to date opportunities and some guidance!

-Alisha (UK Postgraduate Recruitment Officer) and Leicester alumni (PhD and undergraduate degree!) :smile:

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