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New Generation Thinkers 2018


This pioneering scheme aims to develop a new generation of academics who can bring the best of university research and scholarly ideas to a broad audience through working with the media. It’s a chance for early career researchers to cultivate the skills to communicate their research findings to those outside the academic community.

Each year, up to 60 successful applicants have a chance to develop their media skills, including programme-making ideas with experienced BBC producers at a series of dedicated workshops. Of these up to ten will become BBC Radio 3’s resident New Generation Thinkers and benefit from a unique opportunity to develop their own programmes for the station and a chance to regularly appear on air. There will also be the possibility of working with BBC TV, a number of speak opportunities and the chance to become a regular blogger.

BBC Radio 3 and its programmes Free Thinking, the Verb, the Essay and the Sunday Feature have provided a platform for debate and commentary from scholars across the world. You can listen to current New Generation Thinkers delivering Free Thinking Essays online now. You could eventually join them on air.

A short film has been produced which follows the journey of NGT applicants. This short film includes useful tips and advice from successful NGT finalists including what to expect from the BBC-led workshops: New Generation Thinkers Film

Applicants do not have to be funded by the AHRC to apply; the scheme is open to all early career researchers based in a UK Research Organisation (either Higher Education Institution or Independent Research Organisation [IRO]). We also encourage those people who have previously applied unsuccessfully to the scheme, even if they made it to the workshop. For guidance on eligibility, please see the Research Funding Guide

We welcome applications from researchers working in all areas of the arts and humanities. This year we are again extending the call for researchers who work in areas of social sciences and medical science whose work intersects with the arts and humanities. There are a series of interfaces, and many areas of common ground between. This can be seen in both Cross-council programmes, Connected Communities and Life Long Health and Wellbeing.

Aims of the scheme

The aim of the scheme is to provide a development opportunity for early career researchers to cultivate the skills to communicate their research findings to those outside the academic community. The scheme wants to find the new generation of academics who can bring the best of the latest university research and scholarly ideas to a broad audience.

Applications should demonstrate an engaging and stimulating programme but also demonstrate an ability to talk about other subjects areas within the arts and humanities in an accessible and refreshing manner, with awareness of the wider listening audience. We would recommend that you listen to the 2017 winners’ programmes on BBC iPlayer Radio and read both the Call Guidance (PDF, 218KB) and Conditions of Entry (PDF, 108KB).

There are also many opportunities to listen to Winners from previous years - many of whom are still making programmes, writing and recording for the BBC.

Successful workshop applicants

Up to sixty applicants chosen to attend one of three workshops

  • Delegates will gain a perspective from BBC staff on how they commission, produce and present both Radio and TV
  • The delegates will bring their ideas to a follow up workshop, and develop these with the help of other delegates and producers
  • They will take part in an interactive practice session to showcase their programme ideas and demonstrate their ability to communicate with the listening audience

Final applicants

Up to ten successful applicants chosen from the workshops will become Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers for 2018.

Who's Eligible?

To apply for the New Generation Thinkers scheme, you must be: A UK resident over 18 currently working or studying at a UK Research Organisation.

You will be either: a) Currently a PhD student. If you are a doctoral candidate you should have made considerable progress on your research, for example be within one year of submission.


b) Within eight years of the award of your PhD (this duration should exclude any period of career break, for example, family care or health reasons)


c) Within six years of your first academic appointment (this is a paid contract of employment, either full-time or part-time, which lists research and/or teaching as the primary function)

Anyone who has applied in previous years is free to apply again except the previously selected researchers who became the final 10 New Generation Thinkers in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Employees of the BBC and the AHRC are not eligible to apply.

  • Work with BBC Producers to develop their own Programme ideas for BBC Radio 3
  • Be invited to a winners event to showcase their research and trail their programme idea at the BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas
  • Appear regularly on air in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers slots
  • Have a chance to make a short taster film for BBC TV Arts
  • Have the chance to speak at AHRC events to both senior academics and the public
  • Have features of their research on the AHRC website
  • Be offered further media training and support from the AHRC
  • Have travel and subsistence reimbursed for the winners event in accordance with AHRC policy

To enter, please see the Call Guidance (PDF, 218KB) and Conditions of Entry (PDF, 108KB). Entries must be submitted via Je-S