(Wolfson Scholars in the Humanities, 2019 cohort at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

The Wolfson Foundation is pleased to announce that the Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships in the Humanities programme has been renewed for the 2021/22 academic year, at which point over £20 million will have been awarded to some 300 scholars since it was launched in 2012.

The Wolfson Foundation has a long history of supporting higher education. The programme was established, both to recognise the intrinsic importance of this area – and as a response to concerns about the impact of high undergraduate debt on the transition to postgraduate studies for students.

As higher education faces difficult financial challenges brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic, the need to support postgraduate studies is greater than ever.  At a time of pressure on the humanities, Wolfson also wants to make a statement about the importance of this area of academic research. The commitment for a further round of funding – awarding nine partnership universities in the UK £270,000 each – is part of a wider response by the Foundation to Covid-19 and includes allowing greater flexibility with its grants than ever before.

Partner universities (Birmingham, Cambridge, University College London, Durham, Oxford, Southampton, St Andrews, Warwick and York) nominate students who demonstrate the potential to make an impact in their chosen field, both nationally and internationally, based on the quality of their research. Scholarships of up to £30,000pa per student cover the cost of a PhD, including a travel and training allowance.

Previous scholarships have covered areas as diverse as; Greek tragedy, American politics, Soviet children in care, post-colonial Zambia, Muslim women, 17th century Fenland drainage, and a huge variety of other specialist subjects.

Scholars report that they value the flexibility of the funding and the opportunity it allows for training and research, both in the UK and abroad – offering opportunities to engage with others and increase knowledge and networks. 

John Shepherd 2nd Year Wolfson Scholar at Durham University said, “When I submitted my application for a doctoral place at Durham, I knew that without funding I would not be able to afford PhD study. Thanks to the Wolfson scholarship I have been able to benefit from excellent training and follow my research ambitions.”

Siobhan Dooley about to start her 3rd Year as a Wolfson Scholar at the University of St Andrews said, “I am coming towards the end of the second year of my PhD programme, two years of study that have only been made possible because of the generosity of the Wolfson Foundation. Without the scholarship they provide, I would never have been able to afford the international student tuition fees, as well as the associated costs of living in the United Kingdom.

Liam Harrison 3rd year Wolfson Scholar at the University of Birmingham said, “My Wolfson scholarship has enabled me to attend academic conferences nationally and internationally – from Norwich to Nijmegen. Through these I have grown in confidence engaging with other academics and sharing my own research, receiving invaluable feedback during the formative stages of my thesis. The scholarship has also facilitated my engagement with other research groups, such as the British Association for Modernist Studies, Modernist Studies Ireland, and the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies. Presenting at the conferences of these organisations has also inspired me to start a new postgraduate-led research network.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said, “Funding for postgraduate scholarships in the humanities is crucial. Our commitment to this field is demonstrated by committing over £20 million to scholarships, and we are delighted to be announcing the renewal of this programme. The sheer range of topics covered by these immensely talented scholars is dazzling. On a personal note, it has been wonderful to see individuals use the funding to produce brilliant pieces of research, growing in confidence along the way. Many of them are going on to remarkable academic careers.”

One such scholar who has pursued an academic career is Robert Stagg a 2013 Wolfson Scholar from the University of Southampton who is now a Lecturer in English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford.  “The Wolfson postgraduate scholarships provide the best humanities funding in the UK, but they also provide opportunities for doctoral students to share and talk about their research. Those opportunities, and the funding that supports them, helped me towards my first academic employment as a Lecturer in English at the University of Oxford and to further research funding in the form of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at the Shakespeare Institute.”

The Foundation has committed a total of £2,430,000 for the 2021/22 cohort of Wolfson Scholars.

Please note: This programme is administered by our partner universities on behalf of the Foundation. Any enquiries about Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships starting in 2021/22 should be directed to the relevant university.