Further guidance on the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP review process and on completing the OOC DTP Application Form is available below, or can be downloaded as a Word document

The review process


There are three stages to the selection process for OOC DTP studentships: i) institutional review, ii) consortium-level review, and iii) confirmation of awards by the OOC DTP Management Board.

Stage 1: Institutional review

The first stage of the selection process will be completed by the university through which you have applied for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP studentship. On the basis of local recruitment and selection procedures, each university will nominate a select number of applicants to be considered by the DTP.

For the standard route competition only, the admitting university will submit a statement of support for each candidate that they nominate. Completed by a member of the department or faculty to which you have applied for doctoral study, this will comprise a 250 word subject-level assessment of the quality and feasibility of your research proposal, in relation to (a) its originality and the current state of the field and (b) its feasibility in the context of the time and resource limitations of AHRC-funded doctoral study.

Stage 2: Consortium-level review

At the second stage of the selection process, your application will be assessed by one of four OOC DTP Studentship Selection Panels, which will comprise senior academics from the Open University and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The Studentship Selection Panel members will review and score applications individually before meeting to discuss and rank the applications.

Assessment by the Studentship Selection Panel members is on the basis of your OOC DTP Application Form, and will be made in reference to the subject-level assessment provided by your university. Panel members will not have access to academic references or any other documents that you might have submitted during your application for admission.

Stage 3: Confirmation of awards

At the final stage of the selection process, the Studentship Selection Panels’ scores will be moderated and combined into two ranked lists by the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP Management Board: one list for the standard route studentship applications, another for CDA studentship applications. The Board will then determine the number of awards to be made from each list.



DTP Studentship Selection Panels will look for evidence that your proposed research is clearly articulated and well-conceived (‘quality and feasibility of proposal’) and that you have the appropriate skills and experience to complete a doctorate in the field proposed (‘preparedness for research’). This evidence will be evaluated in relation to sections sections three and four of the OOC DTP Application form, i.e. the ‘Research proposal’ and the ‘Preparedness for research’ sections.

Please note, scores are weighted, with 60% of a total score attributed to the ‘quality and feasibility of proposal’ and 40% to ‘preparedness for research’.

Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP scoring criteria and descriptors





Quality and Feasibility of Proposal (60%)

Promising, ambitious and original project, matched by the applicant’s strengths. This is highest priority for funding. The proposal has clearly articulated aims and focus, and is feasible within the given time and resource limitations. The research proposed is well situated in the relevant literatures, and the project is well conceived. The research methodology is appropriate. The proposal clearly shows the potential impact of the research



Well-conceived and viable project which also demonstrates the applicant’s potential. The proposal is original and rigorous. It is feasible within the timeframe.


Very Good

Project requires honing and development but has clear potential and viability. The proposal has originality and rigour but could be better designed or elaborated. Despite good potential, there are one or more areas for obvious improvement.



Poorly-conceived project or overworked subject. The proposal does not display originality. It does not engage with the relevant literature; weak methodology. Should not be funded.



The proposal has significant and serious flaws, and should not be funded.



No identified project; general indication of interests only. Should not be funded.



Preparedness for Research (40%)

Excellent background knowledge and research-related skills for the proposed project. Applicant demonstrates outstanding potential and preparedness in relation to skills (such as languages or transferrable skills), training and previous research or fieldwork experience. Any skills gaps have been identified and there is a feasible plan to address them early in the proposed project.



Solid background knowledge but may require further specific training. Applicant demonstrates strong potential and preparedness in relation to skills, training and previous research or fieldwork experience. Any crucial skills gaps have been identified and there is a plausible plan to address them.


Very Good

Gaps in background knowledge, which could be remedied by guided reading. The applicant shows satisfactory potential and preparedness in relation to skills, training and previous research or fieldwork experience. Most of the small and large skills gaps have been identified and there is a plausible plan to address them. 



The applicant shows some potential and preparedness in relation to skills, training and previous research or fieldwork experience. Some skills gaps have not been identified or the plans for addressing such gaps may not be plausible within the timeframe.



The applicant has not identified the skills or preparation necessary to the project, and there are significant gaps that mean the project is unlikely to reach a successful conclusion.



Serious lack of subject-specific or relevant training and/or generally short on background knowledge and skills.




Guidance on completing the OOC DTP Application Form


The application process and timeline varies depending on which institution you are applying to for funding. Please follow the guidance given in the How to Apply pages.



The OOC DTP Application Form is a fillable Microsoft Word document that includes a number of free text fields and some drop-down menus. You should be able to complete the form using Microsoft Word (desktop or online version) or other word processing software. Please only enter text into the form fields. Do not edit other parts of the form or its formatting. 

Rich text formatting is enabled in certain fields, e.g. in the Research Proposal section. You may copy and paste text into the form fields. Text that is copied and pasted into the form will retain your original formatting. Text typed directly into the form will default to the paragraph font and size used in the form. Please adhere to the word count limits where given.

Once you have downloaded the file, please use the 'save as' function to save the file and name using the following convention ‘Surname, initial(s)_University’. 

The file may open initially in 'protected view'. Consequently, you may need to select ‘view’ and ‘edit document’ or 'enable editing' before you are able to fill in the form. You should then be able to click into a field and start typing. What you type will replace the existing field help text that displays in grey.

Some applicants using Apple Pages have reported difficulty with the drop-down menus used in section 2 'Subject Area'. If you encounter this, please identify the most appropriate AHRC subject areas for your research project, as listed in the eligibility tab on our website, and overwrite the field or enter into the ‘Other’ field.

If you have any technical issues accessing or completing the form, please get in touch with the DTP on


Answers in Section 1 will not be used in the evaluation of your application for studentship funding. Guidance on completing each field is given below.

  • Surname and initial(s): Please give your surname or family name and initial(s). Please do not include your title or full first name.
  • University: Please list the university through which you are applying for an OOC DTP studentship: Open University; University of Oxford; University of Cambridge. Please note: you may not apply for studentship funding through more than one university in the consortium in any one year.
  • Department/Faculty/School: Please list your department, faculty or school, e.g. Faculty of History.
  • Degree programme: Please give the name of the doctoral programme to which you have applied or are currently taking (if applying as an on-course student), e.g. PhD in Music.
  • Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) title: If you are applying for an award in association with one of the Collaborative Doctoral Award projects advertised by the OOC DTP, please give the title of the project as listed on the OOC DTP website. If you are applying for a studentship via the standard route, please leave this field blank or write N/A.


Your application will be checked for subject eligibility during the first stage of review, which is conducted by the university through which you are applying to the DTP. Information used to assess subject eligibility includes: your doctoral programme; the primary subject area(s) selected on your OOC DTP Application Form; your research proposal.

The Open-Oxford-Cambridge DTP supports discipline-based projects in all of the subjects covered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), but also welcomes interdisciplinary research and research in emerging fields of study and creative practice. To be eligible for support an application must clearly demonstrate that at least 50% of the proposed research falls within an AHRC Primary Research Area, as demonstrated by the focus of the research questions and/or concerns. The project’s principal academic audience should also fall within the AHRC’s remit, i.e. the research should seek to contribute predominantly to an AHRC subject. See Annex A for a list of eligible subject areas.

  • Primary area: Please use the drop-down menu to select the primary subject area of your proposed research. If your subject is not listed in the drop-down menu, please select ‘Other’ and specify in the space below.
  • Secondary area: If your project is interdisciplinary, please use the drop-down menu to select the secondary subject area of your proposed research. If your subject is not listed in the drop-down menu, please select ‘Other’ and specify in the space below.

Please note

  • The use of research methods associated with the Arts and Humanities is insufficient justification for eligibility, if your project’s main concerns and expected contributions lie outside AHRC subject areas.
  • You should not submit the same doctoral research proposal to more than one DTP associated with a single university in the OOC DTP consortium. So, for example, a candidate should not seek support for doctoral research at Oxford from both the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP and the Grand Union ESRC DTP, unless applying for two different research projects.

For a full list of eligible subject areas, see our page on eligibility.


Answers in this section of the form will be used to assess the quality and feasibility of your research proposal. You are advised to discuss your proposed project with a prospective supervisor.

Your proposal should clearly articulate the aims, objectives, originality and significance of the research. It should engage with appropriate literature, outline methods and address potential impact. It should also include a plan for completion. Please note that in-text citations count towards the word limit. You may wish to use a short author-date style for referencing; please do not use footnotes.

It is important that you write in clear, precise English, and that you express your ideas in a way that is accessible to non-specialists. The Studentship Selection Panel members will not necessarily be experts in your particular field, so it is advisable to avoid or explain discipline-specific jargon or terminology.

If you are applying for one of the OOC DTP’s Collaborative Doctoral Awards, you are expected to discuss your approach to the project with the university and/or partner supervisor ahead of submitting your application. The advertised project details should inform your own research proposal, but should not be copied verbatim into the application form.

Please adhere to the word count limits where given.

  • Research project title: Please give a brief working title for your proposed research project. The assessors understand that this is likely to change during the course of your studies.
  • Introduction: Please introduce your proposed research project (in no more than 200 words). This section should succinctly outline: the main research question and/or issue that you intend to address; the broad field of study within which your research falls; the significance of your project, e.g. how it might contribute to scholarship in your particular field.
  • Research context, questions and significance: Elaborating on the introduction, please explain (in no more than 500 words) the context, questions and significance of your proposed research. This section should identify the key literature in the field and explain how your research seeks to intervene in, and/or contribute to, this area of scholarship. You should set out your research questions clearly and explain why they are important. When considering the significance of your research, you should identify which disciplines and/or fields of study will benefit from this project. If relevant, you could also indicate the significance of your research to organisations and audiences outside academia, e.g. if there is potential for impact in the cultural sector or in policy. If you are applying for one of the OOC DTP’s Collaboration Doctoral Awards, you should address the potential impact and benefit of the project on the partner organisation and its audiences.
  • Research methods, project plan and timetable: Please explain (in no more than 500 words) how you intend to answer your research questions as set out in the previous section. This should address you research methods and a project plan and timetable.
    • Methods: Your focus here will vary depending on your discipline and research topic. This section may address: key materials and/or sources for your research (e.g. texts, archives, collections, databases, field sites, research participants); specific research methods and/or methodological approaches; any ethical issues that you will need to address in undertaking your research
    • Plan: You should include a short plan for completing the project within the period of the award. This should outline the time it will take to research and write up each section of your proposed project.
    • Please note, the AHRC expects students to submit their thesis for examination by their award end date. Award holders who are new to doctoral study are normally funded for three years and three months in the first instance (pro rata, if part-time); award holders may be eligible for extensions to funding on the basis of research and/or training needs, up to a maximum of four years total.
  • Reference list: Use this section to provide details of key works referred to in your research proposal, up to a maximum of twenty.



Use this section of the form to demonstrate that you have the core qualifications, skills and experience required to successfully undertake your proposed doctorate, as well as a plan to acquire and/or develop your skills for this purpose. The Studentship Selection Panel assessing your application will not have access to all of the documents you submitted to your university for admission. It is important that you outline your prior qualifications and experience in this section, and relate how these have equipped you with the skills and knowledge to enable you to undertake your proposed course of study. If you have professional experience which informs your ability to conduct the research successfully, please include here.

  • University education or equivalent: Please use the table to provide details of up to three university or professional qualifications, including information on the institution, the qualification, years of study and result (if known).
  • Research-related skills: qualifications, training and achievements: Please list up to three language and/or other research-related skills that you have acquired and that are directly relevant to your proposed project. Please do not include any other CV information here. For each, please list (in no more than 30 words) any professional qualifications, training courses and/or achievements (e.g. publication) that evidence these skills. For example, if your research involves work on 18th-century French archives, you should indicate your competency in French and any training you may have had in palaeography. Please give brief details of any professional qualifications, training courses and/or academic achievements (e.g. prize, award or publication) that evidence these skills, with institutions and dates where relevant. Studentship Selection Panel members understand that you will need to acquire and/or develop skills during your programme of doctoral study and training. In the next section of the form you should outline any training needs for skills you need to develop.
  • Preparedness for research statement: Expanding on the summary CV information outlined above, please explain (in no more than 500 words) how your academic and professional background equips you to undertake your proposed project. You should refer to the skills and experience that will enable you to complete your doctorate successfully, whether gained via academic study or in other ways (e.g. via work experience). The DTP offers generic and tailored skills training. Please identify any research skills you would need to acquire for the successful completion of your doctorate and how you plan to address them during the course of your studies. Please ensure that you clearly relate your skills and experience to the proposed research.



The Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP is committed to ensuring that all candidates are considered fairly and equally for funding. You may use this section of the form to outline (in no more than 200 words) any individual or personal circumstances that have significantly affected prior educational opportunity and/or attainment, and which have materially affected the preparation of this application. There is no need to include details of circumstances that you have effectively overcome in the past, but you may describe (for example) details of disability, chronic or acute illness, caring responsibilities, educational or socio-economic background, where the impact is recent and/or ongoing. The Studentship Selection Panel will then make allowance for this when evaluating your application, particularly in terms of ‘preparedness for research’.

Information provided here will not be used in the initial scoring of your application by the Studentship Selection Panels, but might be taken into consideration during the ranking of applicants. It will not be used by the DTP for any other purposes.


You are advised to save the form as a pdf before submission.

Please save using the following naming convention: ‘Surname, initial(s)_University’.