Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module HIST46115: Grant-writing for Masters students

Department: History

HIST46115: Grant-writing for Masters students

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • NONE


  • NONE

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • NONE


  • To develop students skills in writing grant applications, including doctoral funding applications, through a sustained focus on project development, design and presentation
  • To develop students understanding of the importance of research questions, research methods, awareness of research context, research impact, research management , research ethics and research outcomes.
  • To develop students critical engagement with the wider literature in their chosen field of research through a focus on formulating research projects


  • Grant applications are a central part of research, from doctoral funding competitions to large grants involving international collaboration. This career preparation module draws on staff expertise across the faculties of Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences and Health to prepare students in the skills of grant-writing, with a specific bifocal emphasis on doctoral studentship applications and project design for dissertations. The module adopts UKRI standards with particular emphasis on AHRC and ESRC expectations in grant applications, but will also take account of other funding bodies expectations. The five main sessions of this first-term module will focus on: the formulation of research questions; the effective presentation of research context; the evaluation, selection and justification of research methods; the importance of considering ethics and impact in research; and the skills of grant-writing. Students meet with prospective supervisors in the second half of the module to prepare for the final course workshop, where student presentations are pitched to peers and teaching staff for overall feedback and evaluation, prior to the prescribed deadlines for locally- and nationally-run doctoral funding competitions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of the current funding landscape and application processes
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of the key elements of project design and development
  • an advanced understanding of the relevance of ethics and pathways to impact in grant application processes
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the ability to develop research questions for funded projects
  • the ability to identify and evaluate appropriate research methods for funded projects
  • the ability to delineate the research context of a funded project
  • the ability to write effective prose in grant applications
Key Skills:
  • the ability to communicate complex information and argument in a clear and ordered manner, both verbally and in writing
  • the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for one’s own learning through planning and reflexion
  • the ability to understand the value of research and research ethics to society
  • the ability to demonstrate the skills necessary in original research

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching and assessment methods, including a significant amount of directed reading and preparation.
  • Seminars and group discussion based on the organisation, design, components and societal as well as ethical implications of funded research require students to reflect on the specific skills required in grant-writing, including formulating research questions, evaluating research methods, delineating a research context, and writing effective prose in applications. Through this work, students learn how to communicate clearly at an advanced level, and to work independently in preparing for seminars and in project design. One-to-one meetings with assigned supervisors allow students to deepen their learning of the knowledge and skills acquired in seminars, and a final pitch-to-peers conference allows students to demonstrate the full range of subject-specific and key skills (including verbal presentation skills) acquired.
  • After an initial one-to-one meeting with an assigned supervisor, students write a formative assessment consisting of a "case for support", submitted no later than the sixth week of term, 750 to 1000 words in length. This is formatively assessed by the supervisor, and feedback is given in a second one-to-one meeting. Summative assessment is integrated within the final pitch-to-peers conference. Students each make a 20-minute presentation, based on a 1,500 word text which is submitted at the end of the conference. Staff and fellow students draft anonymised feedback on the presentation using an agreed evaluation and feedback template (with accompanying guidelines) which is completed after each presentation. Feedback is then moderated and, alongside the written text, the work is given a final evaluation by a small panel which is led by the course convenor. Evaluation criteria will be based on existing AHRC and ESRC practices. It is in the nature of the work of this module that student assignments are not assessed anonymously.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 5 Every 2 weeks 2 hours 10
One-to-one supervision 2 weeks 4, 9 1 hour 2
Conference 1 week 10 3 hours 3
Prep time for contact hours 40
Prep time for assessments 95
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Pitch to peers conference Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Conference paper 1500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Written assignment 750-1000 words max

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University