Category Archives: Available studentships

Available studentships

The CDP institutions and their partner Higher Education Institutions will usually announce available studentships in the first quarter of each year, though some may be announced later.

The currently advertised studentships (with closing dates for applications shown in brackets) are listed below.  Previously advertised studentships (applications now closed) are shown further down the page.  Click on a title to find out more:

Previously advertised studentships (applications now closed)

Democratising knowledge: Chambers’s illustrated encyclopaedia, 1860–1892

Closing date for applications: 30 June 2014

More information: Find out more about this studentship including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors

About the research project

Driven by an investigation of the collection of W&R Chambers wood engravings held by National Museums Scotland, this project will examine first two editions of Chambers’s encyclopaedia (1860–68 and 1888–92). It will explore how these were affected by changes in technology and working practices in the printing and publishing industries. It will also consider the philosophy, implicit in its publication, of a democratisation of knowledge made explicit in the Encyclopaedia’s sub-title: ‘a dictionary of universal knowledge for the people’.

In order to truly be a ‘dictionary of universal knowledge’ Chambers’s Encyclopaedia needed to be approachable as well as affordable. The aim of this project is to assess the extent to which Chambers succeeded in this attempt to democratise knowledge. In order to do this it will need to undertake research in several areas relating to the design and production of the Encyclopaedia.

Ploughzone archaeology: interpreting loss of data from metal artefact decay (rates, reasons and conservation management implications)

Closing date for applications: 27 June 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • English Heritage: Dr Amanda Chadburn
  • University of Cambridge: Dr Glenn Foard

About the research project:

Many sites include metal artefacts in the topsoil. They may be the primary evidence or complement stratified deposits, also indicating ongoing erosion of stratigraphy. Artefacts have suffered varying decay since deposition, rates depending on metal composition and environmental conditions, accelerating with agricultural intensification since the 1950s. Decay is poorly understood, yet is a major threat to the archaeological record. It determines which artefacts remain of those originally deposited and their condition, and hence what may be deduced from them and their spatial distribution. The research will involve the analysis of existing assemblages and the collection of new samples, through metal detecting survey on carefully selected sites, to assess the factors influencing decay, thus enabling appropriate conservation management action to be designed.


English Office Buildings c. 1900-1939

Closing date for applications: 27 June 2014

More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • English Heritage: Kathryn Morrison
  • University of Cambridge: Dr Frank Salmon

About the research project:

The aim of this doctoral study, which has evolved from the Historic Towns and Suburbs section of the National Heritage Protection Plan, is to make a contribution towards developing contexts in which English Heritage can assess the significance of office buildings of the period c.1900-1939 as a basis for future designation or planning guidance. There is, however, plenty of scope for the successful candidate to define and produce their particular subject as a self-contained piece of academic work.

One area in which proposals are especially invited is in speculative office building in inter-war London (or part of London), perhaps juxtaposing this with comparative study of one or more of the English regional cities. However, proposals to work on other aspects of office building – perhaps defined by a particular type of occupation – are welcome (except that central governmental and local authority offices are excluded).

The Research Life of the Established ‘Station’ in the ‘long Cold War’: Analogue and Digital Era

Closing date for applications: 20 June 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • Science Museum: Tilly Blyth
  • University of Manchester: Jeff Hughes

About the research project:

Have you completed or are you close to completing a Master’s degree in History of Science and Technology, Modern History or a related field? Are you interested in twentieth century history and the role that technological R&D played in it? Do you enjoy investigating the personal stories and histories behind major developments? Would you relish the opportunity to work within a national museum? Then this could be the project for you!

Owned and managed by the General Post Office, the UK’s largest state bureaucracy in the twentieth century, Dollis Hill was one of the government’s most important research establishments in electrical engineering, telecommunications and computing. By the late 1930s, it had an international reputation in an extensive network of telecommunications research, testing and manufacturing facilities encompassing other state civil and military establishments, research associations and industry. With privileged access to the rich collections of the Science Museum and BT Archives this project will explore the institution’s organisational development, its technical work and its changing relationship with the state and other institutions from the mid-1930s through WW2, the post-war years and the Cold War up to the 1960s.It will also consider the social history of the station, exploring the hierarchies within the organisation, informal and formal methods for building and sharing knowledge and the day-to-day experiences of life at Dollis Hill.

The collection, display and reception of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Sienese paintings in Britain, 1850-1950

Deadline for applications: 20 June 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including how to apply [scroll down to the section headed "Collaborative degrees"]

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • The Courtauld Institute of Art: Dr Joanna Cannon
  • The National Gallery: Dr Caroline Campbell

About the research project:

There is to date no proper study of the collecting, display and reception of Sienese ‘primitive’ paintings in Britain. During the period in question Florentine and Sienese art were considered to be foils. It was often argued that early Renaissance Sienese painting retained an archaic purity and integrity missing from Florentine art. The majority of the material the student will need to consult is found at the NG and the Courtauld. The methodology for this PhD is broadly empirical, relying heavily on archival sources. The student will also benefit from the Courtauld Institute’s compulsory Methodology and Theory seminars for 1st year research students. The provenance of all relevant paintings will be collated in a data spreadsheet (using Excel), noting ownership before entering a British collection, and (if relevant) subsequent history. The data will be presented in select form as part of the thesis. This thesis is focused on painting, but Sienese art in other media will be discussed when relevant. The data collected in this thesis will constitute an important new scholarly resource.

While it will be essential for the student to determine the parameters of their research, and to formulate their research questions and approaches, we anticipate the following to be rich lines of enquiry:

  • Why did British collectors begin to collect Sienese painting in the mid-19th century? Is there a difference between the collecting policies of institutions, and private collectors with public interests? How do these intersect, such as in the person of Lord Lee of Fareham?
  • How and why did the taste for Sienese painting change and develop during the period in question? How did exhibitions and publications impact on the perception of Sienese art in Britain?
  • How can we measure the National Gallery’s developing attitudes to the collection and display of Sienese painting?
  • How did the art market intersect with the developing scholarship about painting in Siena? In particular, what role did Fairfax-Murray and Langton Douglas play in the creation of a market in which they were also actively involved? Was Sienese painting displayed and framed in different ways, and subjected to different types of conservation treatments, to paintings from other Italian schools?

Westminster on Sea: the political and cultural significance of Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Closing date for applications: 20 June 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • English Heritage: Dr Andrew Hann
  • King’s College London: Professor David R Green and Dr Ruth Craggs

About the research project:

The aim of this research is to understand better the relationships between place, politics, culture and the monarchy through the analysis of the social networks that were created and reproduced at Osborne House (OH).  As one of the critical spaces of the monarchy, OH functioned both as a domestic residence, a place of cultural reproduction but, more significantly, as a political space in which to discuss matters of state beyond the confines of Westminster. The research will revolve around the suggestion that domesticity – represented most strongly by Queen Victoria as ‘mother’ of the nation and head of the empire − was a crucial component in understanding state politics. Constructing the image of domesticity, and investing OH with the function of a domestic residence, allowed matters of state to be discussed and alliances to be forged in what appears to have been a place removed from political connotations. Rather than being seen as separate to politics, however, royal domesticity was arguably central to the political process.

The research will rely on three main sources to identify the pattern of visitors to illustrate the networks of contacts that were created: The Times; Queen Victoria’s Journals and the range of personal papers belonging to visitors to Osborne House.

Mannequins for the Twenty-first Century

Closing date for applications: 7pm (CUT) Wednesday 14 May 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • Royal College of Art: Dr Ashley Hall (School of Design, RCA) and Dr Sarah Cheang (School of Humanities, RCA).
  • Victoria & Albert Museum: Sam Gatley (V&A Conservation Department).

About the research project:

This practice-based research project is concerned with innovation in the design and development of mannequins for exhibiting historical dress and theatrical costume. The work will also yield insights in aspects of historic costume, in collection and historiography, and in relation to the body in history.

Through the use of digital technologies, this study will focus on data-capture from existing costumes and the design and development of digital body-models and physical mannequins.

Core research questions:

  1. In what ways can new technologies applied to the measurement and recording of garment collections contribute to a more accurate understanding of body size and proportion?
  2. In what ways is the comparison of these measurements with existing data valuable to costume historians, and to a range of other disciplines?
  3. How might the resulting data and technical innovations be used to develop customisable, adjustable mannequins that fulfil all the requirements of museum conservation and display?

Androgyny and Cross-dressing in British Pop and Performance (c. 1967- 1990): a material history

Closing date for applications: 19:00 (CUT) Wednesday 14 May 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • The Royal College of Art (School of Humanities): Professor Jane Pavitt, Dr Marquard Smith
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (Theatre & Performance Collections): Victoria Broackes

About the research project:

This research project will explore ideas of gender experimentation, including androgyny, cross-dressing and transgender in pop performance in Britain in the late twentieth century. The project will utilise a cross-disciplinary approach, drawing from design history, history of performance, fashion studies and dress history, the material culture of performance (including stage and set design, video direction and production and costume); gender studies and queer theory.

The central research question is: how were experimentations in cross-dressing and transgendered performance materialised through pop music in the later twentieth century  by way of costume, live stage performance, set design and video? Further considerations could include:

  • What is a ‘history of materiality’ in relation to pop and performance in the period?
  • What role do gender and sexuality play in ‘fashioning’ the performing (and performative) body?
  • How can a history of androgyny and cross-dressing be understood through material culture, by way of (for instance) ’home’ or amateur making processes used in the process of ‘self-fashioning’, or the role of costume designers, stylists etc., commissioned to work on live or video performance?

Sustainable rural settlement in the Post-Medieval Scottish Highlands

Deadline for applications: Midnight, 30 April 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process (PDF)

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • Scottish Heritage Consortium – Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: Dr Piers Dixon and Dave Cowley (Survey and Recording Dept.)
  • University of the Highlands and Islands: Prof. Jane Downes, Dr Keir Strickland (Dept. of Archaeology), and Dr Elizabeth Ritchie (Centre for History).

About the research project:

The Highland Clearances are one of the most high profile episodes of Scottish history, and brought to an end centuries of sustained rural settlement for almost half the population of Scotland. However, despite the high profile of the Clearances, we know remarkably little about the rural settlement dynamics of the Highlands during the 17th and 18th centuries.

This PhD aims to critically describe, contextualise, and characterise rural settlement dynamics across the 17th and 18th centuries through field archaeology and documentary analysis, using three case-study landscapes within the Scottish Highlands. In particular, it aims to address the following research questions:

  • What made rural settlement within the Scottish Highlands sustainable in the centuries leading up to the Clearances?
  • Can period, function or social status of settlements be identified through non-intrusive methods?
  • How did the Improvements of the 18th century alter rural settlement dynamics in the Highlands? Particularly their; Form, Character, Distribution,

This project will involve the collation of material held by the RCAHMS, and material held in historical archives and collections, and the integration of this with new fieldwork.
The project is intended to focus upon the eastern Highlands, utilising three case study regions; the Strath of Kildonan and Rogart, both Sutherland, and the Cairngorms. In all cases these areas feature excellent preservation of the abandoned landscapes, a wealth of archaeological surveys, aerial photography, historical archives and cartographic sources. However, although the supervisory team have identified key methodologies, it is hoped that the student will be active in shaping the nature of fieldwork that is undertaken and the supervisors will be both supportive and guiding within this process.

Home on the Rails: The design, fitting and decoration of train interiors in Britain, c.1920-1955

Closing date for applications: 24 April 2014
More information: Find out more about this studentship, including application process

Collaborating organisations and supervisors:

  • National Railway Museum: Anthony Coulls and Ed Bartholomew
  • Open University: Dr Clare Taylor and Dr Susie West

About the project:

This project is an opportunity to examine the connections between the design, fitting out and choice of decoration in train interiors in Britain, c.1920-1955 and the shifting concept of home.

Carriages played a key role in the movement of passengers over short, intermediate and long distances around Britain, and needed to combine durability with accommodating familiar domestic activities. Although much has been written on train exteriors from the standpoint of railway history, little attention has been paid to the construction of ideas of home in this transient context, nor to the design making process and networks which underpinned carriage design.

Accordingly the collaborative PhD might address the following research questions:
Firstly, it could examine the nature of domesticity within the railway carriage, and the extent to which their layout, fittings and decoration enabled social interaction to be mediated by domestic norms, or subverted barriers of class and gender. Secondly, it could consider the nature of the decision-making process in the train interior, testing claims that furnishings were often the result of choices by individuals based on gender, technological knowledge or their hierarchy in the company. This could also involve investigating the networks used by different companies to design and supply goods such as decorative textiles, flatware, glass and ceramics. Thirdly, the project offers opportunities to consider how far these networks reflected wider concerns to improve standards of design and public taste and the role of public exhibitions as part this discourse. In particular it might examine the tensions between interiors designed in historicist styles, rooted in the domestic, and experiments in the design of modernist spaces.

There is flexibility to shape the study according to individual interests. Interviews will be held on the 16 May 2014.