AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDPs) at MOLA

Project partner: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council

From October 2020 we are supporting new research students to study for a PhD at a UK university, co-supervised by members of our staff. Through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) award we hope to develop future leaders, specialists and advocates for archaeology, as well as extend our strong record for academic collaboration and engagement.

We are now accepting outline project proposals from UK university supervisors to be co-developed with our staff. Following a selection process, two CDP projects will be advertised to potential doctoral students next spring, and successful candidates will begin their studentships in October 2022. This will be the third of four annual cohorts of PhD research students, and a further call for studentship projects will be announced in summer 2022.

We are particularly keen to encourage project proposals that address our three key research themes:

  • Our discoveries: The new knowledge, techniques and specialisms that are created through our archaeological work
  • Citizen science: Diversity and engagement, education and citizen science, public programming, and evaluation of our own citizen science projects
  • Archaeology and the contemporary: Exploring the value of an archaeological approach to the contemporary world and the impact of archaeology on contemporary society

In addition, this year we particularly seek proposals focused on matters of Activism and Social Justice. We are keen to examine archaeology as a crucial field of practice for challenging issues of historical bias, exploring ethics and morality, enabling equal opportunities to participate in society, and acting as a philosophical lens through which we can ask difficult questions, and explore complex responses to those questions. MOLA operates as a nexus between the charitable, academic, governmental, and business sectors, actively pursuing partnerships that draw together and extend archaeology for the benefit of wider society and culture. Through such partnerships, we aim to critically test and rigorously evaluate new ways of doing, interpreting, and presenting archaeology. This means we are also interested to support proposals that link activism and social justice to archaeological science and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

To submit a project proposal you must be a current member of academic staff at a Research Organisation directly supported by the UK funding councils. This includes most UK universities and PhD-awarding colleges. Please note, prospective students cannot apply for the scheme at this stage.



Interest in the CDP scheme is likely to be high, and we are only able to select two studentships to nominate to the AHRC. The selection process will therefore be very competitive.

The selection process will take place in two stages. The first stage is a call for outline proposals from UK university supervisors. These should be submitted using our outline project proposal form, by 21 September 2021.

It is recommended that you discuss your project idea with the Research and Engagement team at MOLA, and co-design your project with a member of MOLA staff before completing and submitting this form. MOLA is happy to work with HEI applicants to identify suitable members of staff and queries should be sent in the first instance to cdp@mola.org.uk.

We will review all outline proposals received by the deadline of 21 September, and will select outline proposals to be worked into full CDP proposals. Outline proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.

Decisions will be made based on the following selection criteria:

  • Availability of member(s) of staff at MOLA with expertise to co-supervise the PhD
  • Importance, originality, innovativeness and feasibility of the proposed research
  • Demonstrable links to MOLA’s research priorities
  • Likely contribution to MOLA’s strategic objectives and plans

We will contact all project proposers in early October 2021 to inform them of the outcome.

The second stage of the process will involve shortlisted project proposers being invited to complete a full proposal in collaboration with a MOLA staff member(s). In addition to an expanded case for support and information about the qualifications and experience of the supervisory team, the full proposal will also need to include details of training and career development opportunities that would be available to a student ultimately undertaking the project, and how the opportunity would be  advertised in order to attract the widest possible pool of applicants.

A panel comprising MOLA staff, trustees, and representatives from universities and other CDP-holding organisations will review the full CDP proposals and make the final selection of two studentships to nominate to the AHRC. This panel will score each proposal based on the AHRC’s grading scale and consider its academic quality, the suitability of the proposed project to PhD-level research, and the potential benefits to MOLA and the student.

Only in Spring 2022, when the two selected studentship projects are approved by the AHRC, will the opportunities be advertised to prospective students.

MOLA Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships 2022-23 - Frequently Asked Questions

MOLA Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships 2022-23 - Outline Project Proposal Form



Our first cohort of students began their studentships in October 2020. They are:

  • Grace Conium, Canterbury Christ Church University (‘Shifting sands: coastal Kentish heritage and communities in transition’, supervised by Dr Ellie Williams and Prof Peter Vujakovic, co-supervised by Lara Band and Helen Johnston)
  • Elizabeth Knox, University of Sheffield (‘An interdisciplinary exploration of the social impact of foetal and perinatal mortality during the industrialisation of England’, supervised by Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins and Dr Chris Millard, co-supervised by Rob Hartle and Diego Rodrigo Maganto)