Vision, Strategy and Governance

The UK is a world leader in arts and humanities research. The AHRC will enhance our global distinction by focusing on excellence of achievement, extending opportunity and building capacity through partnerships.

The AHRC’s Vision and Strategy set out our purpose and priorities for 2013-2018. Further detail can be found in the AHRC Strategy 2013-2018 the Human World (PDF, 3.6MB).

Responsibility for the AHRC’s overall strategic direction and financial management is the remit of the AHRC Council. More information about Council and Senior Management is in the Structure section.


The AHRC’s vision is to:

  • fund excellent research projects not fully supported from other sources, including those of field-defining or transformative potential and deploying interdisciplinary and thematic approaches
  • take an overview of research in the arts and humanities in order to support new areas and important but vulnerable disciplines
  • provide opportunities for outstanding researchers at key stages of their careers to develop intellectual leadership in their own disciplines and beyond
  • support postgraduate research to ensure that capability across the disciplines is maintained and the best possible training is provided
  • enable the exchange of knowledge to deliver civic, cultural and economic benefits
  • on behalf of the UK, develop international opportunities to further arts and humanities research


In testing times, we think hard about the range of what we offer and efficient ways of doing it. Our priorities are as follows:

  1. Research
    1. To support the best ideas and projects emerging from researchers.
    2. To enable larger projects, including facilitating collaboration and interdisciplinary.
    3. To bring scholars together to address new research questions and agendas in themes and strategic initiatives.
    4. To develop both the assessment and formative role of peer reviewers to ensure that funding is directed toward research of the highest quality and greatest ambition.
  2. People
    1. To develop postgraduate support to provide the strongest possible foundation for capacity, quality and creativity.
    2. To support researchers through skills development, networks and projects.
    3. To promote intellectual leadership through fellowships and large and thematic projects.
    4. To develop our engagement with the research community through the measures highlighted under ‘AHRC Commons’ and, in tandem, to enhance the role of the AHRC Peer Review College as outlined below.
  3. Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange
    1. To extend our contribution to the UK’s creative economy through Knowledge Exchange and other means.
    2. To deepen engagement with public, private and third sector partners to enlarge the contribution to the arts, public engagement and policy formation nationally and internationally.
  4. International
    1. To support and strengthen international research in the arts and humanities through strategic partnerships.
    2. To increase researcher mobility through schemes such as International Placement.
    3. To increase research participation in co-funded international programmes.
  5. Advocacy and leadership
    1. To provide opportunities for individuals, representative bodies and users of arts and humanities research to address issues of common interest and concern.
    2. To share often dispersed information and exchange new insights and ideas.
    3. To develop better ways of explaining and evidencing the value and importance of research in the arts and humanities.
  6. Savings and Efficiency
    1. To provide efficient and effective use of resources developing the widest possible range of achievements and benefits from the research we support.
    2. The AHRC is mindful of constraints on public spending, which are likely to operate for the foreseeable future. Throughout the period covered by the Strategy, we will continually assess the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of operation and change modes of working if necessary.
    3. We will promote savings from integration of ‘back-office’ operations across the research councils and shared services to release as much money as possible for research and training.
    4. With the other Research Councils, we will work with Research Organisations to ensure appropriate savings are made in indirect costs and to streamline the process of application to avoid the work-load burden all-round.
    5. In the development of research, we will make effective us of digital media in support of, for example, the Peer Review College and in general communications; we will use evaluation to identify further opportunities to improve process; and we will establish  national mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of best practice and (where appropriate) resources.
    6. Through AHRC Council, we will periodically review the Strategy to determine its continuing relevance and the effectiveness of its implementation.