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New Generation Thinkers 2019

The call for applications closed on 4 October 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 and public engagement.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 10 will become New Generation Thinkers and benefit from a series of unique opportunities such as media and public engagement training with the AHRC and developing their own programmes for BBC Radio 3 including a chance to regularly appear on air. There will also be the possibility of working with BBC TV, putting on events for the Being Human Festival and the chance to become a regular blogger.

Clip of film

We've spoken to NGTs and people at the AHRC and Radio 3 to get their advice for those who were thinking of applying.

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. Many of these feature current and past NGTs, many of whom are still making programmes, writing and recording for the BBC. You can listen online to the 2017 New Generation Thinkers (NGTs) recent Essays delivered at the Free Thinking Festival.


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 a 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 subject areas in an accessible and refreshing manner, with awareness of the wider listening audience. We recommend you listen to the 2018 NGTs’ introduction at the Free Thinking Festival this year on the BBC website and read both the Call Guidance (PDF, 184KB) and Conditions of Entry (PDF, 351KB).

Clip of film

This short film follows the journey of the 2015 NGT applicants and includes useful tips and advice from successful NGT finalists including what to expect from the BBC-led workshops.

Successful workshop applicants

Up to 60 applicants are chosen to attend one of three workshops in London and Salford.

  • 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 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 10 successful applicants chosen from the workshops will become New Generation Thinkers for 2019. They will:

  • Receive media training on 19 February 2019 - including broadcast, writing and social media - and support from the AHRC
  • 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, including the Being Human Festival
  • Write blogs for the AHRC and have their research featured on the Council website.

Who can apply?

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 a higher education institution or Independent Research Organisation). 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. In addition, we welcome applications from researchers working in all academic disciplines whose work fuses with arts and humanities research.

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 previous years. Employees of the BBC and the AHRC are not eligible to apply.

To enter, please see the Call Guidance (PDF, 184KB) and Conditions of Entry. Entries must be submitted via Je-S.

Applicants from UCL

Please visit the AHRC BBC New Generation Thinkers Scheme Briefing Session page for further details.