Midlands4Cities Open Doctoral Award

Qualification: PhD

Departments: Archaeology and Ancient History School of Criminology English Geography History History of Art and Film Leicester Law School Media and Communication Modern Languages Museum Studies

Application deadline: To be confirmed for 2021 entry

Start date: September 2021


midlands4cities logoThe Midlands4Cities Open Doctoral Award applications are now closed for 2020

The Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C) brings together eight leading universities across the Midlands to support the professional and personal development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), this is a collaboration between the University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University of Birmingham, De Montfort University, Nottingham Trent University, Birmingham City University, University of Warwick, and University of Coventry, and will provide research candidates with enhanced mentoring, subject, and skills training (including cross-institutional training), and support in preparing for a career.

The University of Leicester is keen to receive applications from prospective research students looking to complete a PhD with research focusing around Arts and Humanities topics, which are available to receive funding from the AHRC.

Our Open Doctoral Awards are student-led, and we invite high-quality applications within any disciplinary and interdisciplinary area of the arts and humanities. You will:

  • Agree a research proposal with academic supervisors within the M4C partnership, with the potential to build cross-institutional supervisory teams to maximise fit and expertise.
  • Be accepted for study at a particular institution (your ‘home’ university).
  • Produce a quality thesis and take advantage of personal, professional, and career development opportunities through M4C’s commitment to ‘quality thesis plus’.

In addition to the Open Doctoral Award, M4C also offer an alternative Collaborative Doctoral Award in which you will work with an external partner. 

Duration of study

The normal maximum award tenure is 3.5 years (42 months) for full-time study and six years (72 months) for part-time study. These periods can be extended if you make a case to the AHRC. You can do this as part of your AHRC M4C application.

Advice and support with your application

There is advice and support with your application is available at one of the writing workshops aimed at potential students who are planning to submit an application for PhD research to Midlands4Cities. To be confirmed for 2021 entry.

Consult the application guidance notes.

Contact the M4C central team if there is anything you are unsure of in the guidance notes.

Doctoral training partnerships

Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) are multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional schemes designed to support the training of the next generation of world-class researchers. The University of Leicester is a lead partner in four DTPs/CDTs through which we can offer funded PhD studentships in a wide range of research areas. 

Studentships are available to highly motivated and qualified applicants and provide a generous support package usually including a full fee waiver, annual stipend, and research training support grant. Studentships are in most cases offered early in the year for October start. Enquiries outside of the main application periods are welcomed.



Full-time studentships

  • Payment of approved fees (as set and agreed by UK Research and Innovation), currently £4,327 p.a. for 2019/20
  • Maintenance grant (or stipend) for the student, currently £15,009 p.a. for 2019 entry
  • Research Development Fund (RDF) and Engagement Fund (EF) which support UK/overseas fieldwork/archive visits, attendance at conferences and skills training
  • Collaborative Doctoral Award holders will receive an additional £500 per annum to facilitate partnership working

Part-time studentships

  • Payment of approved pro-rata part-time fees
  • A pro-rata maintenance grant at 50% (stipend)
  • Research Development Fund (RDF) and Engagement Fund (EF) which support UK/overseas fieldwork/archive visits, attendance at conferences and skills training

EU fees-only studentships

Where institutional funds allow, M4C may be able to offer a fully-funded studentship to EU applicants. This is not guaranteed but we hope to be able to offer stipends whenever possible.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

You should either hold a Master's qualification at the time of application or be able to state that you will have completed one by the time your PhD begins (even though the result may not be known and the final examination board may not yet have taken place). You can also apply on the basis of having equivalent relevant professional experience in lieu of a Master's qualification.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

University of Leicester Site Directors

Leicester funding and application enquiries


How to apply

How to apply

Applications for 2020 are now closed. Applications for 2021 to be confirmed 

To apply for AHRC Midlands4Cities Open Doctoral Awards 

Step 1 Submit your University of Leicester application

Apply for your Leicester PhD using the relevant subject Apply button at the bottom of the page.

  • If you apply for more than one studentship in the same department, please only submit one University application form, but indicate both projects/funding sources. 
  • If you are applying for projects in different departments, please complete separate University application form for each department/project.
  • Under the funding section select Studentship and in the drop-down list select AHRC Midlands4Cities.
  • In the References section, do not include your referee's email address. Instead, in the tab provided use pgradmissions@le.ac.uk as the email for both referees. References are requested as part of the AHRC M4C application only.

We would recommend you try, where possible, to submit your PhD application to Leicester before Christmas or at the very latest by TBC. This will allow you time to submit your M4C funding application (Step 2) in good time for your referees to submit their references before TBC.

Step 2 Submit your Midlands4Cities application

Complete the Midlands4Cities application form

For more details please refer to the M4C website and please read the M4C guidance notes.



  • Funding is only available for students who are UK or EU citizens beginning a PhD at one of the M4C member universities in September 2019
  • UK students are eligible for a ‘Full Award’
  • EU students are generally eligible for a ‘Fees Only Award’. However, if you have been resident in the UK for three years immediately prior to the beginning of your studies, you are eligible for a ‘Full Award’