Skip to content

Collaborative doctoral awards

We host a growing number of doctoral students engaged in research across the Science Museum Group. Our students work in a variety of ways to develop knowledge, gain professional experience and contribute to a range of programmes and projects.

We also coordinate the Science Museums and Archives Consortium, which offers AHRC-funded collaborative doctoral partnership studentships with us and other leading science museums and archives.


Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Science Museums and Archives Consortium’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme offers fully funded studentships for study towards a doctoral degree.

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

Proposals for new studentships are made jointly by a member of SMAC staff and a member of academic staff at a UK HEI (and, in some cases, a named student in collaboration with a full supervisory team).

We encourage CDP applications on topics that are grounded in the studies of objects and practices relevant to our sites and institutions. Research topics should critically relate to organisations’ 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 SMAC research priorities 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 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 within AHRC subject remit.

The scheme provides a special opportunity for doctoral students to work across both university and research-led museum and archives environments. Projects are funded for up to four years to allow for up to 12 months of professional development activities. Students can therefore develop a significant PhD research project while developing a range of valuable professional skills. These 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.

Applying for a CDP project

We operate a two-stage collaborative application process, that may be initiated by either an HEI academic or member of staff at SMAC.

The annual deadline for jointly written expressions of interest is the beginning of September, for studentships to start in October of the following year. Applications are assessed by a panel with members drawn from HEIs and other cultural heritage organisations as well as SMAC.

Those interested in developing a research project are encouraged to contact the Science Museum’s Research Manager to discuss ideas in the first instance. You can also contact CDP Consortium members directly to inquire about possible areas of interest and request further details about priority research areas: ·

*Please note as of 2022 we are currently not accepting new CDP project applications*

About other types of Collaborative Doctoral Awards

In addition to the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme, the Science Museum Group has other PhD students with us working on placements. We also jointly supervise students funded through AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards awarded through Doctoral Training Partnerships, and we welcome enquiries about partnering on new Collaborative Doctoral Award applications to Doctoral Training Partnerships.