With the academic job market being as difficult as it is, will being self-funded for my PhD massively inhibit my ability to enter an academic career? (I am a humanities student btw).
I don't think so, I know self-funded people in academic careers, although I'd maybe say, on balance, that they've struggled a bit more to get jobs.
The question is a bit more complicated than that, though. The funding issue plays into the question of whether the PhD is a good value proposition for you. Is it a good idea to spend, say, £75,000 of your own money on fees and living expenses over three years for a humanities PhD? Bear in mind that starting salaries, if you manage to get an academic job, are low, especially in humanities - and jobs are increasingly few and far between. My PhD (in the social sciences) was funded and I've still incurred a huge opportunity cost in lost potential earnings over that time, given that I could have spent 4 years in another field making a ton more money. That didn't bother me because I didn't want to do anything else, but it's relevant.
The other issue is - and I don't want to sound harsh or mean here, so please don't take it this way - academia is about securing funding. For many people, getting PhD funding is the first time they'll demonstrate that they can do that. If you can't get funding for your PhD, you might want to sit down and ask yourself why that is. Like I said above, it's perfectly possible for people with self-funded PhDs to have fulfilling and decent academic careers - but if you're falling down at the first funding hurdle, you might want to question whether this is the path you are best suited to take.
I suspect you probably can get PhD funding, unless your research proposal has serious and fundamental shortcomings. Given the massive costs of self-funding, I'd be inclined to wait a year until the next admissions cycle and beef up your chances of getting funding. It's competitive but it is very much still possible - especially if you have a supportive prospective supervisor and institution that is willing to help you out.
Minor point, but I do think that right at the start of your career, PhD funding from a big research council (AHRC in your case) does add a little bit of sparkle to your CV, but yes, it's quickly dwarfed by publications and professional experience.
Edit: sorry about the formatting, edited the post and it's taken out all the paragraphs.
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