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Our offer

Be part of a thriving community of doctoral students

M4C’s commitment to postgraduate training and support offers students creative opportunities to develop skills and attributes for research, life and work. Our vision is to be a major catalyst for arts and humanities postgraduate research in the Midlands and beyond.
Place of Tenure: Students are required to be resident in the UK for the majority of their studies. The student must live within a reasonable travel time of their Research Organisation or collaborative organisation to ensure that they are able to maintain regular contact with their department and their supervisor. This is to ensure that the student is not isolated and receives the full support, mentoring, training and access to facilities required to complete their research successfully and to a high standard. The only exceptions to these requirements are to cover periods of absence that are an essential part of their study e.g., fieldwork, study visits or conference attendance.


Through our Open Doctoral and Collaborative Doctoral Awards Midlands4Cities will fund and support outstanding research for up to 86 doctoral researchers across the breadth of Arts and Humanities starting in October 2024. We support discipline-based and interdisciplinary research and creative practice projects.

M4C studentships can be undertaken full-time and part-time. A full-time Open Doctoral Award receives 3.5 years funding as standard; a full-time Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) receives 4 years funding (a maximum of 7 years and 8 years respectively for part-time study).

Awards for UK residents cover UK tuition fees and provide a stipend at the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate.  AHRC/UKRI funding is open to International applicants and Midlands4Cities are able to offer a limited number of awards to international student. All international students are eligible for tuition fees at the UK rate and a stipend to support living costs. UKRI (AHRC) funding will not cover international fees set by universities. For further details please read the UKRI Guidance: International Eligibility.

Some of the M4C universities  can offer funding towards the international fee rate, check with the university you are applying to for a place to study to find out.

A studentship consists of three elements:

        • Payment of tuition fees for UK and international applicants of £4,712 per annum 2023/24.
        • A maintenance grant (or stipend), this is a tax-free payment for UK and international applicants of £18,622 per annum. Total package for 2023/24 is £23,334 tax-free + other funding opportunities see below.
        • Additional funding opportunities which include a Research Development Fund (RDF) to support primary research activities, an Engagement Fund (EF) to enable students to undertake placements and other professional development activity and a Cohort Development Fund (CDF) which supports groups of M4C students to design training, development and research activities.

      Expert supervision

      Applicants for an Open Doctoral Award design their own project, defining the research questions and identifying methodologies, normally in discussion with prospective supervisors. You can draw on supervisory expertise within and across any of the Midlands4Cities universities or across more than one M4C institution. Where relevant, your supervisory team may also include a member from a non-university partner organisation (for example from the cultural, creative or heritage sector).

      Open Competition Awards offer:

      • individually designed projects undertaken with world class supervision;
      • access to training, supported research visits and activities;
      • the opportunity to develop skills and experience that significantly enhance future employability.

      Applicants for a Collaborative Doctoral Award pursue a PhD research project which has been jointly developed by a Midlands4Cities university and an external partner organisation.

      Collaborative Doctoral Awards offer:
      • Projects which respond to particular needs in the cultural, creative and heritage sectors, and expert supervision to support students undertaking them;
      • Access to training, facilities and expertise beyond a purely academic setting
      • The opportunity to develop skills and experience that significantly enhance future employability


      Midlands4Cities has an extensive range of regional, national and international partners who provide training and placement opportunities for our students. A placement is an excellent opportunity for personal and professional development, enabling you to develop skills, apply research expertise outside of academia and gain valuable experience to add to your CV.
      During the period of your PhD study you will have the opportunity to develop a placement for up to six months with one of the many organisations that collaborate with Midlands4Cities. Alternatively, we will support you to develop a placement with an organisation which is part of your own research network. A placement will provide access to new resources, contacts and organisational cultures (for example you could be based in a museum, gallery, studio, archive, heritage organisation or specialist laboratory).
      Working on Journey to Justice: Nottingham was an amazing experience. I learnt a lot during my time as postgraduate project lead and developed a range of skills that will prove invaluable in years to come.
      “The M4C placement helped me gain skills, experience and knowledge which are relevant to my future career plans […] it influenced me to pursue my post-PhD career path but also provided a lot of the experience I needed for my application, so I’m really glad I did it” – M4C student, 2020 cohort, University of Nottingham.
      Thanks to the close correlation between this placement and my own practice-led research into sound design, the placement has significantly contributed towards my research […] It has not only to my wider career development, but also to my PhD, and my written and practical work carried out since the placement has directly benefited from these skills and insights.” – M4C student, 2020 cohort, De Montfort University.
      “The placement has been an absolutely brilliant experience […] Networking with school leaders and academics has been an excellent opportunity and has given me the opportunity to raise my profile both as an educationalist and as a researcher. When I apply for jobs in the fourth year of my doctoral studies, these new connections will be of invaluable help.” M4C student, 2019 cohort, University of Birmingham.
      The placement helped me to focus on the digital capture expertise of my research…and to further my understanding of how these knowledge and skills can be used in both my thesis development and my career goals as an artist.” – M3C part-time student, 2016 cohort, Birmingham City University.


      Midlands4Cities provides a collaborative research training environment by combining the postgraduate training offer at each M4C university with an extensive and customised programme of research and employability training that connects the M4C community.

      The Midlands4Cities ethos of ‘Quality Thesis Plus’ enables students to develop arts and humanities research skills, explore interdisciplinary methods, discover research networks, and path-find professional careers via the Midlands Arts Programme (MAP).This includes cohort development initiatives that range from writing workshops with The British School at Rome, the Royal Literary Fund and Policy Engagement training with the Institute for Government, to workshops with creative practitioners that ‘Lift the Lid’ on work and careers in the cultural industries.

      “The British School at Rome workshop was successful in teaching me the value and relevance of approaching research from a variety of disciplines and sources. It provided me with a fresh perspective on my research and highlighted the benefits of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach.” Arbaz Muzaffer (Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham)
      “The one week spent at the workshop helped stimulate more ideas for my research than I would have imagined. Although I was away from my own work, the inspiration from the city, BSR seminars, conversations with fellow researchers, professors, staff and fellows at the BSR sparked a new fire of interest in my own research.” Salome Chitaia
      “Tina & Anna’s one-on-one advice and immersive training helped me overcome a long-lasting writing block, I have taken a different approach to writing and feel more in control and able to think creatively”. (Royal Literary Fund Writing Workshop)

      Virtual Postgraduate Platform (VPP)

      To build and support the Midlands4Cities community we have a digital online platform – the Virtual Postgraduate Platform (VPP). This is a single online space for M4C doctoral researchers and supervisors that provides a shared point of access for:
      • Student resources, help and guidance
      • Sharing profiles, records, and communication
      • Catalysing cohort activities and training
      • Facilitating cross-institutional community-building

Equality Diversity and Inclusion

Midlands4Cities recognises it’s responsibility to operate in a way which creates equal opportunities for all our applicants and students. We have an EDI Policy, and we are working to develop a more extended strategy for recruitment and ongoing student support.

Next steps

We offer two routes for PhD study (to ensure you access the documents for 2024 Entry please clear your browsing history) :
  1. Open Doctoral Awards: These awards invite you to design and agree a research project with academic supervisors within the M4C partnership. There is the potential to build cross-institutional supervisory teams to maximise fit and expertise.
  2. Collaborative Doctoral Awards: These awards are jointly developed and co-supervised between an M4C university and an external partner organisation. CDAs offer diverse and unique projects that respond to particular needs in the cultural, creative and heritage sectors.
Information & apply