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Policy Impact case studies

Case studies archive

The following are a selection of examples of how arts and humanities research contributes to public policy development. Over the course of 2015, we will be publishing new policy-related case studies.

AIDS and English law

As part of a collaboration between Dr Matthew Weait of Keele University and Dr Yusef Azad of The National AIDS Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) recently funded a PhD for Mr Robert James entitled The Response of the English Legal System to People Living with AIDS/HIV. The research examines the impact of law on people living with the disease, and will utilise Mr James’ wealth of experience in the field; particularly his time spent in the last five years advising NHS Trusts on drafting and implementing policies after legislative changes.

Foreign Office (FO) and Cuba

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Dr Elizabeth Dore of the University of Southampton to complete a research project entitled Memories of the Cuban Revolution. The research examined life for ordinary Cubans under the revolution, and asked questions about the problems and possibilities of socialist participation and democracy. Dr Dore was invited by the FO to several workshops about Cuba and gave advice to officials based on the projects research findings

Intellectual Property

The AHRC Centre for Studies, Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the University of Edinburgh has developed research themes to examine the synergies between intellectual property law and information technology law together with work on media law, medical law and ethics, and forensic evidence. Its remit is to consider the relationship between law, policy and technologies and it engages actively within the field of policy development. In the last 12 months, the centre has responded to the UKIPO’s consultation Taking Forward the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property; Proposed Changes to Copyright Exceptions and also European Commission’s Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy. Director of the Centre, Professor Graeme Laurie, Chairs the Ethics and Governance Committee of UK Biobank.

Innovative design

The Design Against Crime Research Centre has a strong and focused public value rationale. Its research generates greater understanding of how to tackle the public policy issue of crime, while also creating tested products that directly address this problem and has had various projects funded by the AHRC. It works in collaboration with the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Sciences at UCL, the UK Designing Out Crime Association and Secured by Design, which is the UK Police flagship initiative supporting the principles of designing out crime. It has also provided guidance on crime reduction to the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit and the European Forum on Urban Safety. The Centre’s Director, Professor Lorraine Gamman, is part of the Home Office’s anti-crime Design Technology Alliance.

Preventing torture

A three year AHRC-funded project entitled Evaluating the Effectiveness of the National Institutions under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Torture is led by Professor Rachel Murray from the University of Bristol. This project investigates a particular international document, the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture, which requires, among other things, states to set up national bodies to prevent torture through visits to places of detention. Numerous seminars have been held, which prompted the Ministry of Justice to approach the project team to hold further workshops involving various stakeholders including Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons. Professor Murray has also worked with the UN Sub Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the FCO on the global adoption of the protocol, as well as responding to consultations held by the Joint Committee of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Religion and Society

The Religion and Society Research Programme (with the Economic Science and Research Council (ESRC) brings together arts and humanities scholars with social scientists, to address complex and topical issues of belief, culture, society and religion. Projects vary in type and scope, looking at issues such as whether or not religious education in the UK works, the history of religious division in Ireland, the development of partnership approaches to challenge religiously endorsed violence (with close involvement from Muslim groups and the Metropolitan Police), the role of the state in a multi-faith society as well as the foundations of public policy in a multi-faith society. In 2007, the programme director, Professor Linda Woodhead, was a member of the commissioning panel on the joint ESRC/AHRC/FCO Programme on Islam, Radicalization and Violence – A Critical Reassessment.


Professor Kim Knott, the Director of the AHRC’s Diasporas, Migration and Identities Research Programme,  was commissioned by the Home Office in 2006 to conduct a review of arts and humanities research literature relating to The Roots, Practices and Consequences of Terrorism, the final report having been submitted in October that year.  The review provided a summary of arts and humanities research on the above subject, and focused on the importance of culture and identity for understanding the roots, practises and consequences of terrorism. The review provided a framework of contributory factors, in addition to analysis of the literature in response to the stated Home Office’s interests and also recommendations for future research and policy implications.