Fellowships & Grants

Guidance & FAQ

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art offers a variety of fellowships (for individuals) and grants (for institutions and individuals) twice a year in a strictly timetabled schedule. There are no discretionary funds outside the stated programme.

Am I eligible?

Our funding programme supports scholarship, academic research and the dissemination of knowledge in the fields of British art and architectural history, and of British visual culture understood more broadly, from the medieval period to the present day. There are funding opportunities designed for academics, scholars, authors, postgraduate students and independent researchers as well as some designed for institutions, organisations and publishers. Each of our funding opportunities have individual eligibility requirements - please check these carefully before applying. 

All of our funding opportunities are open to international applicants.

All supported topics must have a clear art-historical perspective, including those that focus on recent or contemporary artistic practice and all applications must demonstrate that British art, architecture or visual culture provides a substantial focus for their project.

Applications will be assessed according to their academic rigour, originality, and contribution to scholarship. 

We do not offer fellowships and grants in the fields of archaeology, the current practice of architecture or the performing arts.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible then please contact the Fellowships & Grants Manager at grants@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk to discuss further.

How are successful applications decided?

All applications are initially checked to ensure they meet the required funding rubric. If your application does not demonstrate that your project has a clear art-historical perspective or that British art, architecture or visual culture provides a substantial focus for the project then you will be informed and your application withdrawn.

All accepted applications will then be evaluated by our advisory council made up of 16 art history and architecture professionals. These meetings take place in March (for the Spring round) and in October (for the Autumn round). Applicants are informed of the outcome shortly after the meetings take place.

What are the timings of the awards?

Applications for spring funding opportunities (all Fellowships, Research Support Grants and Event Support Grants) open mid-November and close 31 January.

Applications for autumn funding opportunities (all grants categories) open mid-August and close 30 September.

The deadline for referees to submit their references is 10 February for the spring round and 10 October for the autumn round. Referee details need to be provided when the application is submitted.

How can I apply?

Applications are only accepted through our online system – grants.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk

Once registered you can start an application. You do not have to complete it in one go and can return to your form and submit it once you are satisfied with it. Referee details need to be provided when the application is submitted.

An outline of each application form is available to download as a PDF document at the bottom of each rubric page.

Can I apply for more than one award?

Individuals and institutions can apply for two different grant categories each per award round (e.g. a Publication Grant and a Curatorial Research Grant in the autumn).

Individuals cannot apply for more than one award category in the same round if they are applying for a Fellowship.

How many referees do I need?

All Fellowship applications, Curatorial Research Grant, Collaborative Project Grant and Digital Project Grant applications require the details of two referees. All other grant categories require one referee. The Event Support Grant does not require any referee. 

For individuals referees should have first-hand knowledge of the applicant’s academic career and the subject area for which funding is being sought. Advisory Council would like to be informed of the originality of the subject matter and the applicant’s suitability to pursue such research.

For institutions referees ideally should have specialist knowledge of the topic and subject matter and/or have first-hand knowledge of the nominated research curator’s academic career. We do not accept references from individuals who are directly involved in the project or individuals who are affiliated with the institution (employee, trustee etc.) unless it is a large institution, such as a University, and the individual is not personally associated with the project. If you have any questions about your choice of referee, please emailed the Fellowships & Grants Manager at grants@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.

Once you have submitted the details of your referee(s) they will be emailed by our online system and invited to register a profile to submit the reference online. We do not accept references in any other format. 

Guidance & FAQ for referees

Like applications, all references must be submitted online via our grants system – grants.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk. Once registered you will be able to access the applicant’s application and complete the reference. 

If you know you have been asked to be a referee but have not received an email, please check junk/spam folders. 

Only attempt to submit a reference once you’ve received an email notifying you that you have been nominated as a referee.

Referees have an extra 10 days after the application closing dates to submit their references. For the spring round the deadline for referees is 10 February and for the autumn round the deadline is 10 October.

Guidance for content

The references which support individuals and institutions in all categories of our Fellowships and Grants programme are an extremely important aspect of the application process. The Paul Mellon Centre’s Advisory Council places considerable weight on the information and opinions which referees are able to provide in their letters of support.

Your comments should be no longer than 500 words.

It should be remembered that a letter of reference provides additional information to that contained in the application form itself. The reference should flesh out the application and should include a candid discussion of an applicant’s weaknesses as well as strengths.

All applicants to our awards programme will have provided the PMC with an outline of their research; their specific aims within the scope of the award being sought; and a curriculum vitae.

References in support of individuals

Referees should have first-hand knowledge of the applicant’s academic career and the subject area for which funding is being sought. Advisory Council would like to be informed of the originality of the subject matter and the applicant’s suitability to pursue such research.

The reference should be focussed on the type of Fellowship or Grant being sought by the applicant and on the specific topic being pursued. We would not expect the referee to review the whole of applicant’s career as the applicant will have supplied their curriculum vitae.

We would like a candid appraisal from which our Advisory Council can make an informed decision.

References in support of institutions and publishers

There are no hard and fast rules on who may give references in support of institutions but normally we would expect referees to have specialist knowledge of the topic and subject matter, and this may well be an academic or museum/arts professional.

We would not expect internal references from within an institution itself, although a reference from a specialist in a large museum or gallery may be appropriate.

We would like a candid appraisal from which our Advisory Council can make an informed decision.

If you have any trouble with the online system then please email the Fellowships & Grants Manager at grants@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.