Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Collaborative Doctoral Awards

We are delighted to open applications for organisations to work in partnership with a Higher Education Institution as part of our Collaborative Doctoral Awards.

Collaborative Doctoral Awards provide funding for PhD-level research projects which are developed in partnership between Higher Education Institutions and non-HEI organisations or businesses. The funding is awarded to the HEI and the student receives a stipend.

The awards are intended to encourage and develop collaboration and partnerships providing opportunities for doctoral students to gain first-hand experience of work outside the university environment and enhance the employment-related skills and training a research student gains during the course of their award.

The projects also encourage and establish links that can have long-term benefits for both collaborating partners, providing access to resources and materials, knowledge and expertise that may not otherwise have been available and also provide social, cultural and economic benefits to wider society.

Organisational partners are invited to submit project proposals to the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH), which will then be circulated to member HEIs across ten universities. The individual HEIs will respond to those partners they are interested in working with. The organisational partner will then select an HEI to work with to take the proposal forward to the formal application stage.

Click here to download the CDA Industry Brief Form



May 2018 June/July September Oct/Nov 2018 Nov-Jan 2018

SGSAH workshops for industry partners 

June 8: Industries’ 500 word briefs circulated to DTP2 HEIs

June 29: HEIs respond to briefs.

July 30: Industries select HEIs. 

Sept 7: Two-page proposals submitted to CE Hub AB for review.

Sept 21: CE Hub Advisory Board shortlists projects.

Oct 1: Projects advertised to potential students

Nov 5: Students interviewed by HEIs/Industry.
Project teams complete full application. 
4 Feb 2019 16 Feb 2019 18 Feb-8 March 2019 1 Oct 2019  
Application portal opens. Application portal closes. Panels review and rank Students commence  



What will participating in a Collaborative Doctoral Award mean in practice for my organisation?

Partner organisations will be expected to nominate a member of staff to work with the student over the course of the three-and-a-half-year PhD research project (or seven years part-time). This should include the student working on the project within the organisation for at least six months, and up to 18 months. The exact duration and pattern of attendance (full-time/part-time/flexible) within the host organisation will be dependent on the individual project, and should be agreed by all parties at the outset.

Students should be provided with desk/work space and resources in line with standard staff arrangements.

Students are fully funded to undertake their PhD, including the time spent within the partner organisation. This period should be integral to the completion of the project and is not an optional extra or internship.

How are the Collaborative Doctoral Awards funded?

Funding decisions will be made by panels coordinated by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH). SGSAH receives funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to support doctoral training (i.e. PhD level research) in Scottish universities.

SGSAH is currently awaiting a decision from the AHRC on its funding for 2019-2024. This announcement is expected in early summer 2018. These Collaborative Doctoral Awards are dependent on the success of SGSAH’s overall funding award.

Do organisational partners provide any funding towards the Collaborative Doctoral Awards?

Organisational partners are expected to contribute £500 in each year of the project (i.e. £1,750 in total) towards student costs. In exceptional circumstances, the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) may consider applications from organisations that are unable to meet this cost.

How many Collaborative Doctoral Awards will be made each year?

The Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities will award up to 20% of the total FTE studentships to CDAs. This is dependent on the overall award that SGSAH received from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) but is likely to be between 10-16 CDAs.

Who is involved in a Collaborative Doctoral Award?

The partner should assign a member of staff to act as the organisational supervisor for the project. The Higher Education Institution (HEI) should assign one or more academic supervisors to the project. The student will undertake the project with the support of the supervisors. The Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH) will oversee the CDAs at national level and coordinate biannual meetings for all parties. SGSAH will also provide training for academic and organisational partner supervisors.

What are the benefits of Collaborative Doctoral Awards for organisational partners?

  • Increased capacity
  • New knowledge and skills
  • New products, processes or services
  • Improved quality
  • Prototype development
  • New networks/contacts
  • New audiences or customer bases
  • Increased turnover/sales/visitor numbers
  • Increased profile
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Skills development for employees
  • Press/media coverage
  • Potential to attract additional funding

What are the time commitments for organisational partners participating in Collaborative Doctoral Awards?

Partners commit to being fully engaged in the project as an active participant for the entire duration of the PhD (3.5 years full-time or 6/7 years part-time). Partners must have the capacity to host and support the PhD student within their organisation for a period of 6-18 months, depending on the requirements of the project. Partners should be involved in at least three formal meetings with the PhD student and students each year, and attend biannual SGSAH CDA Gatherings, which will bring participating students, partners and academics together as a cohort.

What is the process for applying for a Collaborative Doctoral Award?

A.      Organisational Partner Led

The organisational partner submits a 500 word proposal. The Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities circulates the proposal to its HEI members across 10 universities. The HEIs respond directly to partners. Partners select an HEI to work with. The project is advertised to students. Organisational partners and HEIs select a student to be attached to the project. All parties collaborate on the final application form. Appendix A outlines the timetable for the CDA process.

B.       HEI Led

The HEI supervisor will develop the initial proposal with an organisational partner. The process will then proceed as per route A above.

What scope do organisational partners have for defining the terms of the research?

Under route A (as outlined above), partners will have free reign to propose a research topic related to their work. Academic supervisors, once selected by partners, can provide assistance in framing the topic as a PhD question, as required.

What is a PhD?

A PhD is the highest academic award offered by universities. In order to undertake a PhD, a student must normally complete an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree. The duration of a PhD is normally 3.5 years full-time or 6/7 years part-time, at the end of which a thesis containing new knowledge will be produced. Candidates who are awarded a PhD may use the title ‘Doctor’. PhD students are also referred to as doctoral researchers.

The SGSAH AHRC-funded programme is highly competitive. The rigorous application and selection process ensures excellent PhD candidates.

Who can be an organisational partner for a Collaborative Doctoral Award?

Organisations across the public, private and third sectors based anywhere in the UK are eligible to apply as part of a Collaborative Doctoral Award.

What are the outputs of a Collaborative Doctoral Award?

The student will produce a PhD thesis containing new knowledge and undertake tasks agreed by the organisational partner in order to deliver a specific project related to the partner’s area of work.