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Key facts and figures

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class research in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and many more. Each year the AHRC spends approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training often in collaboration with partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds provide considerable economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK.
  • The AHRC has more than 50 disciplines within its remit. For a full list of discipline areas covered by the AHRC see our subject coverage page
  • Since receiving its Royal Charter in 2005, the AHRC has made a total of more than £700m of funding available for arts and humanities research.
  • The AHRC’s Delivery Plan 2011-15 commits us to spend 72% of research funding in responsive mode schemes and 24% on targeted programmes, including International and Knowledge Exchange activities.
  • Since 2005, more than 16,400 research outputs have been published as a result of AHRC funding.
  • The RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) 2008 revealed the scale of the arts and humanities research base, with 14,000 active researchers, representing 27% of researchers in the UK. Across all disciplines, arts and humanities researchers achieved the highest proportion of top-rated 4* work, defined as ‘world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.’
  • Of all disciplines in the UK, the humanities produce the largest world share of published articles at nearly 11%.

According to independent analysis commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the AHRC publication Leading the World: The Economic Impact of UK Arts and Humanities Research (2009):

  • the immediate benefit generated by a £1 investment in arts and humanities research is £10
  • the long-term benefit of a £1 investment in arts and humanities research is £15-20
  • The annual value generated by overseas students studying the arts and humanities in the UK is £1.3 billion.

Peer review

  • The AHRC’s Peer Review College was launched in 2004 and currently has over 1,500 members.
  • More than 2,500 peer reviews were undertaken in the year 2011-12.
  • A Strategic Reviewer Group within the College was established in 2011 which advises AHRC on major schemes such as BGP2, the review of programmes such as Fellowships, and overall delivery. Their role will be expanded 2013-18.


  • In the seven years since becoming a Research Council in 2005, the AHRC funded 5325 doctoral students.
  • Since the scheme began in 2004/05, the AHRC has funded 500 Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs). These are doctorates that students undertake at with both an HEI and a collaborating organisation. Since 2008, 24% have been with Independent Research Organisations such as major libraries, galleries and archives; 23% with local or public authorities; 21% with charities; and 15% with the commercial sector.

Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange

  • Between 2012-16 the AHRC will fund four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy, totalling £16m of investment.
  • Nearly a third of academics from the arts and humanities are engaged with private sector businesses as part of their research and knowledge exchange activities, and close to half of academics from the creative arts and media are engaged with the private sector.
  • Since 2005 the AHRC has funded 2,766 projects which included project partners. Of 1,116 named project partners, 918 were identified as non-academic.
  • Around two-fifths of arts and humanities academics have connections to a wider public through external engagement activities, and nearly half interact with the third sector – more than any other group of disciplines.
  • Of the 10 top visitor attractions in the UK, 7 are Independent Research Organisations of the AHRC. These organisations attracted 28.5 million visitors in 2011.
  • The New Generation Thinkers partnership with BBC Radio 3 first ran in 2011 with over 1,100 applications from early career researchers. In 18 months, the NGT’s have made more than 30 broadcasts for the BBC based on their research, communicating with a worldwide audience.


  • HERA: of €16.5m pooled from European and individual national funders, UK researchers had access to €15.5m from 2010. UK researchers were included in 18 of the 19 funded projects, leading 11 of them.
  • The AHRC currently supports international placements opportunities in India, Japan and the USA and will extend these.
  • Since 2005 the International Placement Scheme has enabled 182 early career researchers to undertake research at prestigious institutions abroad.