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.
COLLABORATIVE DOCTORAL PARTNERSHIPS AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUMS AND ARCHIVES CONSORTIUM (SMAC)
The SMAC consists of the UK’s leading cultural institutions for the historical study of science. Our PhD students engage with interdisciplinary collections, develop innovative methodologies, and address key issues on science’s role in past, present and future societies.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the SMAC’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 Group Archives
- Science Museum Group (National Science and Media Museum, Science Museum, Science and Industry Museum, National Railway Museum and Locomotion)
- Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)
- Royal Society
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The scheme provides a special opportunity for doctoral students to work across both university and research-led museum and archives environments. Studentships are four years (FT), including up to six months’ professional development activities (e.g. placements, training). Students can therefore undertake a significant PhD research project while developing a range of valuable professional skills.
CDP ROUND 4
In spring 2023, we received funding to support nine studentships over three years, with the first cohort of students starting from October 2024. We will prioritise projects that will benefit the organisations within the SMAC in multiple areas, including:
- How we understand, care for, and/or communicate our collections
- How research can enhance our public programmes
- The skills, knowledge, and professional development of people in our organisations
- How different communities engage with our organisations, be they visitors to our physical or online spaces, or professionals across different sectors.
We are keen to support projects that work across more than one organisation within the SMAC and align with our current research priorities:
ENVIRONMENT & SOCIETY
Our past, present, and future relationship with the natural world, which may include:
- Histories and technologies of the natural world, including climate, plants, food, and oceans
- Sustainability of our collections
- Environmental exploration past, present and future
ACCESS & IDENTITY
Who can access our collections and who is represented in them, which may include:
- Colonial legacies in our collections or organisations
- Collections and histories of gender and/or sexuality
- Disability in our collections, spaces, or communities
DIGITAL COLLECTIONS, INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION
Our scientific and collections data, from paper circulation to digital communities, which may include:
- Machine learning, research and collections management
- Collections, audiences, and science communication
- Digital preservation and historical information management
PROJECT SELECTION PROCESS
Proposals for new studentships are made jointly by a member of staff within a SMAC organisation and a member of academic staff at a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI). Named students can also apply in collaboration with a full supervisory team, as can partner organisations outside the SMAC.
Applications can be initiated by eligible members of staff at either a SMAC organisation or a HEI; but completed applications must be submitted by the member of staff based at the SMAC organisation.
BEFORE YOU DEVELOP YOUR PROJECT
If you are interested in developing a project, we encourage you to get in touch with the named contacts at each organisation in the first instance:
- Scott Anthony, Science Museum Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Elder, BT Group Archives: email@example.com
- Sarah Evans, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Keith Moore, The Royal Society: email@example.com
- Mark Nesbitt, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO APPLY
We operate a two-stage application process.
- Stage 1 comprises a brief case for support of up to 1,000 words, focusing on the quality of the project and its expected impact on the SMAC’s organisations.
Download an application form
- Completed application forms should be sent to Tejala Rao, Science Museum Group: email@example.com.
- The deadline for Stage 1 applications is 12 noon on Friday 29 September. Up to nine projects will be selected to proceed to the next stage of the competition (Stage 2).
- Stage 2 comprises a more detailed case for support of up to 2,000 words, plus further statements on support and professional development opportunities for the student and the suitability of the supervisory team.
- Applicants will also be required to complete an Equality Impact Assessment, for which additional guidance will be made available. Application forms will be provided directly to applicants and completed application forms should be sent to Tejala Rao, Science Museum Group: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The deadline for Stage 2 applications is 12 noon on Friday 24 November.
PROJECT SELECTION ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
All project proposals will be scored on a 1-5 scale.
Projects will be scored against the following criteria:
- Key research questions, context, and methods
- Main collections or activities associated with the project
- How the project will contribute to the SMAC’s research priorities
- The benefits the project will bring to the partner organisation(s)
Projects will be scored against the criteria from Stage 1 plus the following criteria:
- Feasibility as a 3.5-year doctoral project
- Timeliness of the project
- Professional development opportunities for the student (e.g. placements, training, public engagement)
- Suitability of the project’s supervisory team
EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
(Assessed via an Equality Impact Assessment)
- Equitable opportunity & merit-based recruitment of students to projects
- Support to promote inclusive research, training & working environments
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.