Applied Research Collaborative Studentships

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**The online application system is now closed**

The ARCS scheme funds projects that are developed in collaboration with external organisations across creative, heritage, third and business sectors, normally based in Scotland. The ARCS scheme is open to applications from any of SGSAH’s 17 HEI members.

ARCS are intended to encourage and develop collaboration between SGSAH’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and non-HEI organisations and businesses across Scotland. ARCS provide opportunities for doctoral students to gain first hand professional experience outside the university environment. The support provided by both an HEI and non-HEI supervisor enhances the employment-related skills and training a research student gains during the course of their award.

It is important that the collaboration brings more to the student than enhanced access to an archive or collection, and that they are afforded real opportunities to develop career enhancing skills in addition to an academic qualification.

The studentships also encourage and establish longer-term links between the partners that can have benefits for both, 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.

Our ARCS-funded PhD projects will be markers of excellence and originality, enabled by environments where excellent research is supported and conducted.

Our prestigious 3½ year ARCS studentships offer:

  • Fully-funded PhD studentships with a stipend of around £18,000 per annum plus fees at UKRI rate
  • Partnership with a non-academic organisation and cross-institutional supervisory team where beneficial including a minimum of six months working within the non-academic organisation
  • Access to additional funding to cover travel between partner organisations
  • A core training programme to develop the doctoral researcher’s skills as a future research leader
  • Access to advanced inter/disciplinary training through SGSAH’s innovative Discipline+ Catalysts
  • Connection and collaboration with organisations across the creative, cultural and heritage sectors through SGSAH’s three Knowledge Exchange Hubs.
  • Extra funds to gain additional skills through training and internships
  • Opportunities to travel abroad to carry out research and fieldwork
  • Access to the richness of Scotland’s research expertise and collections
  • The chance to join an engaged and committed cohort of doctoral researchers working across the full range of arts & humanities disciplines
  • Opportunities to lead the development of networks and funded training events across Scotland
  • Membership of the SGSAH – a partnership of 17 HEIs in Scotland supporting 1,750 doctoral researchers in the Arts & Humanities

Click here to view and download the ARCS Application Form Templates and Guidance documents for 2023

You can view a zoom recording of a SGSAH information session on applying for collaborative PhDs from September 2023 by clicking here and entering password Y5cWN1^?


Full applications submitted (student may be attached at this stage or after studentship is funded). Application system open between 1-13 Feb 2023.

13 Feb 2023

Successful partnerships informed

May 2023

Studentship opportunity advertised (if no student attached)

May/June 2023

Student profiles to SGSAH for panel review (if no student attached at point of application) and students appointed to projects

June 2023

Studentships begin

October 2023


Can we resubmit applications which were unsuccessful in the SGSAH CDAs?

Partnership projects submitted to the SGSAH AHRC DTP competition at any stage of that process cannot be submitted to the ARCS scheme in the same year. We are unable to accept revised projects. Please confirm that the project proposal was not submitted in any form to the SGSAH AHRC DTP competition this year.

How are the costs of an ARCS divided?

ARCS are supported by the Scottish Funding Council, which is meeting 50% of the costs of each 3½ year studentship, this includes fees (at UK rate) and a stipend at UKRI rate (approx. £15,500). The remaining 50% of costs will be met by the HEI(s). We expect to make between 3-5 ARCS awards each year, with all funding awarded by 2023.

The non-academic partner contribution is £500 per annum. This is used by SGSAH to support additional travel and accommodation costs which might be incurred by the doctoral researcher. In-kind support is also expected – for example, in addition to supervisory expertise and project management, the provision of a desk space, access to appropriate resources including email, formal mentoring, tailored training opportunities, etc.

Which HEI are eligible to be part of an ARCS project?

ARCS are doctoral projects designed and supervised by at least two SGSAH Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and at least one other non-academic partner. At least one of the HEIs must be from outside of the SGSAH AHRC DTP consortium (i.e. Abertay, Heriot-Watt, Napier, Queen Margaret University, Robert Gordon and University of West of Scotland).

Please note that each HEI may only apply for a maximum of two studentships where they are lead HEI.

What the eligibility criteria for non-HEI partner organisations?

Any HEI that is a member of the SGSAH is eligible to submit an application with at least one academic member organisation of the SGSAH and at least one other external partner.

Partner organisations must be located in Scotland or have operations of some kind in Scotland.  They can be any size and from the public, private or voluntary sectors but must have sufficient capacity to be able to support a doctoral researcher for the duration of their programme of study and the placement experience must be meaningful and valuable.

Partnerships may be with any organisation and priority will not be given to particular types or sectors.

Where will an ARCS project be based?

Whilst studentships are principally based within the academic partner institution, there is a mandatory placement, which must be relevant to the research project, at the non-academic partner for a minimum of six months and up to 18 months.

All other arrangements for supervision, and the split of stipendiary and fee support between partner HEIs, are matters for each partnership to determine. The lead institution will be responsible for ensuring that the agreed supervision plan for the project is adhered to and that appropriate monitoring and progress meetings and reports are taking place. 

What students are eligible for ARCS?

EU and international students may take up an ARCS studentship and are eligible for the full stipend. SFC’s maximum contribution to fees will be 50% of the home/EU rate only, i.e. partnerships would have to make up the difference in international fees.

What mechanisms are in place for recruiting students to projects?

ARCS are awarded to HEIs and their partners, not to students. SGSAH will co-ordinate a joint advertisement for the studentships; in addition, successful applicants will need to agree and implement a recruitment campaign and process that is fair and transparent. It is the responsibility of the HEIs and partners to recruit an excellent student to the project. The successful student must meet the requirements for the PhD programme of study at the lead HEI prior to being awarded the studentship. SGSAH will need to confirm that the proposed candidate meets the qualifications criteria prior to the appointment being confirmed. (Normally, a doctoral candidate will hold at least a 2:1 UG degree in a relevant subject and will have finished or be on course to finish a Masters degree in a relevant subject. Where a candidate does not have a Masters degree and is not on course to complete one, they may have equivalent relevant professional experience.) 

Where a student has been actively involved in developing the application for an ARCS, they may be attached to the application. They should complete the Student Details section of the form and include a 3-page CV.

What previous projects have been funded through ARCS?

Film Bang: communities of practice, cross media interconnections, and sectoral growth within Scotland's film and television industries 

Exploring Virtual Worlds with Disabled Communities: Care Challenges and Cultural Benefits

Gender and Mental Health in the West of Scotland c.1970 - c.1990

Living Tradition and Cultural Revival: Scottish Folk Drama in the 21st Century

Multisensory Interpretation in Museum Displays: Evaluating Digital Engagement with Burrell's Late Medieval Collections

Trust, Audit and Public Engagement

British Sign Language and video-mediated interpreting: Proximity in police settings

Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland's Northern Isles

Glasgow Girls Revisited: Designing, Making, and Exhibiting Women's Industrial Design of the Gilded Age

Runic writing in the Viking diaspora: expression of the Norse identity?

Testing the limits of the 'hard man' in film: Masculinity and male health behaviour in Scotland's public health films, 1934 – 2000

Archiving and historicising the feminist anti-violence movement in Scotland

Books and Borrowers, 1747 – 1857: Innerpeffray Library and the History of Scottish Reading

Connecting Performance and Play: interdisciplinary design methods for the development of games and performance

Improving the Nation: investigating the principles of improvement in the new planned settlements of rural Scotland, c. 1750 – c. 1905

Human Rights Film Festivals: Politics, Programmes and Practices

Hunting Whales and Making Knowledge: Dundee’s Globalisation through Trans-Maritime Whaling, 1750 – 1914

Placing Sound: the Role of Aurality and Visuality in Locating Identities