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Institute of Advanced Study

Support the Institute


The Institute of Advanced Study is Durham University's prestigious, multi-disciplinary research institute, whose principal purpose is to gather together scholars, intellectuals and public figures of world-class standing from all disciplines, to address topics of major academic, public and policy interest.

With its community of fellows, its annual research themes, and its programme of free-standing activities, the IAS helps frame future research agendas and enhances the multi-disciplinary research portfolio and international standing of the University, and of the region as a whole. The IAS also serves as a policy forum, enabling key decision takers and experts to engage with some of the world's most innovative thinkers and to use their imaginative ideas to make a difference to people's lives. The IAS is one of few arenas designed to view matters of pressing social, economic and scientific concern from all disciplinary perspectives, in an intellectually stimulating and unrestricted manner.

Strategic Priority

The Durham IAS promotes innovative, multi-disciplinary research across all the University's subject disciplines. Whilst recognising the research strengths of the individual departments at Durham, the Institute is focused on enabling scholars from all disciplines to work together on major research themes, topics or projects, in the belief that this is how new ideas and new thinking emerge. The strategic aim of the Institute is to change the way things are imagined and done on a world stage, thereby significantly raising the international reputation and role of the university.

The Institute's Three Core Strands

There are three core strands to the Institute's activities that create a focused and substantial environment for world-leading research activity:

1. Cross-disciplinary annual themes and projects: The most recent research themes sponsored by the IAS are: 'Structure2017/18); 'Scale' (2016/17); 'Evidence' (2015/16); 'Emergence' (2014/15), ‘Light' (2013-14) and 'Time.' (2012-13). Themes speak to major contemporary intellectual, public or policy issues while drawing on established or emerging research excellence at Durham, including that of Durham's vibrant postgraduate community. The annual theme has underpinned the Institute's fellowship scheme in recent years.

From 2018/19, the IAS will be sponsoring four major research projects instead of one overarching theme (see: The IAS Fellowship scheme now requires Fellows to undertake collaborative work with Durham's academic community, either focussed around the four major projects during the year, or to undertake a collaborative endeavor with other Durham researchers.

2. The IAS fellowship scheme allows the university to attract the very best academic minds in the world to come and engage creatively with researchers at Durham. The Institute provides a haven for its fellows to concentrate on their research and to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue with other fellows and with Durham academics. It also creates an intellectually stimulating environment that encourages collaborations and new research networks to become established, culminating in new publications, joint research grant applications, and ultimately, new knowledge.

3. By providing seed-corn funding for inter- or intra-disciplinary events and activities that will develop cutting-edge research at the University, the Institute is able to support academics in their research and encourage them to think beyond the boundaries of their respective disciplines.

Funding the Vision

Durham University has undertaken to invest substantially in the IAS through the provision of core budget, personnel, facilities and accommodation. The IAS seeks endowed funding to put the Institute on a firm and permanent footing. A priority is to secure financial support for the IAS fellowship scheme. This funding will enable the University to attract extraordinary researchers, especially those from particular world regions and in early career, to work with colleagues at Durham on a wide range of innovative research initiatives. Additional support is sought to provide seed-corn funding for a range of exciting research ventures organised around the Institute's annual themes, and to establish new and engaging research projects and endeavours, such as international art exhibitions, public debates, and high-level policy workshops. Philanthropic support is essential for the Institute to deliver its full promise and potential.


We are extremely grateful to a number of sponsors who have demonstrated their commitment to the aims, values and ambitions of the IAS by funding Fellows or research activities. Their support allows us to attract the most distinguished individuals in the world to Durham, support an exciting programme of new interdisciplinary research, and maximise public and poliy engagement. The Directors wish to warmly thank the Sir James Knott Trust and the Durham University Society-Association for Durham Alumni for their support, as well as the individual donors who have sponsored specific IAS Fellows or provided support for the Fellowship scheme in general. Without their kind generosity it would not have been possible for the IAS to achieved all that it has to date.

Anyone interested in receiving further information about opportunities for supporting the Institute should contact IAS Administrator on 0191 334 4686 or