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Collaborative doctoral awards

AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship Proposals for the Science Museums and Archives Consortium—2021 Call

The Science Museums and Archives Consortium is delighted to announce the 2021 Call for Proposals for AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Awards to be supported through our Collaborative Doctoral Partnership.

About the programme

The Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) programme provides funding for doctoral projects jointly proposed by a university-based academic in collaboration with a member of staff at the Science Museums and Archives Consortium (SMAC).

Following appointment, doctoral candidates are jointly supervised by subject and collections specialists at both their Higher Education Institute (HEI) and at one or more of the institutions of the SMAC Consortium, comprising BT Archives, Science Museum Group (National Science and Media Museum, Science and Industry Museum, the National Railway Museum and Locomotion), The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), the Royal Society and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

We encourage CDP applications on topics that are grounded in the studies of objects and practices relevant to the SMAC sites and institutions. Research topics should critically relate to the organisation’s collections, strategy, policy for future projects and collecting areas, conservation and collections management, as well as aspirations for new audiences.

We are keen to explore innovative methodologies in the theory and practice of curation and collecting, digitisation, archiving and preservation, object and collections discovery, and access and re-use in historical and contemporary organisational and societal contexts, including via digital humanities. Specific research priorities for the Consortium include:

  • Making use of digitised collections and/or projects with a digital humanities focus. Proposals are encouraged that develop links between Consortium members’ collections— and beyond (supporting the AHRC research programme ‘Towards a National Collection’).
  • Practical and theoretical approaches to community engagement and participatory methodologies.
  • Addressing under-representation, diversity and inclusion across Science, Technology and Medicine collections and their audiences
  • Places and Spaces of Science, Technology, Transport, Communications and Medicine as a tool for historical analysis and interpretation
  • Imperial and colonial origins of collections, and addressing the legacies of colonialism
  • Understanding sustainability in relation to collections, interpretation, display and storytelling.
  • Understanding audiences and education in science museums and archives (proposals with a focus on Early Years and Maths education are particularly encouraged)

However, we also strongly encourage you to contact individual partners to discuss their specific interests in more detail. Proposed projects must demonstrate academic originality, be appropriate for collaborative study at doctoral level, and fall into the AHRC subject remit. Projects will be funded for up to four years to allow for up to 12 months of professional development activities, which should also be outlined in the proposal.

The scheme provides a special opportunity for doctoral students to work across both university and research-led museum and archives environments. Students are able to develop a significant PhD research project while developing a range of valuable professional skills. Research projects establish lasting relationships that benefit student and collaborating partners alike, providing access to resources and materials, knowledge and expertise that might not otherwise be available.


This is a two-stage collaborative process that may be initiated by either an HEI academic or member of staff at SMAC.

The deadline for the first stage is Friday 24 September 2021 and we therefore recommend making initial contact as soon as possible.

Requirements for stage 1—Expressions of Interest

Please supply no more than two sides of A4 that answer the following:

  • What is the project title?
  • What is the project about?
  • What are the likely research questions?
  • What is the research context?
  • What are the main works or collections in this area?
  • What is the proposed approach?
  • Why is this a doctoral project (suitable scale and level)?
  • Is a named student included for this project?
  • What professional development opportunities might be available during this project?
  • Who will supervise the project(normally a lead and background supervisor at both organisations, though only leads need to be listed at EoI stage)??

Stage 1 proposals should be submitted as a Word document to no later than midnight on Friday 24 September 2021.

Candidates selected for stage 2 will be notified and supplied with a form for the full proposal.

The deadline for Stage 2 is Friday 26 November 2021, with successful candidates being notified in January 2022, and expected to commence student-recruitment by end of March.


Those interested in developing a research project are encouraged to contact Alison Hess, Research Manager at the Science Museum ( to discuss ideas in the first instance. You can also contact the Consortium members directly to inquire about possible areas of interest and request further details about priority research areas.