Fully-Funded PhD Opportunities in Cultural Heritage / World Heritage

Posted on Friday 9th May 2014

Photo of a jar of coins

Applications are invited for four studentships based at the University of Birmingham’s Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage. The studentships are funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council and are in collaboration with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and UNESCO World Heritage Centre, to commence in the 2014/15 academic year.

The four studentships are designed to examine the relationships that World Heritage Sites share with different communities of interest. They are as follows:

  1. The ways in which the local communities of Ironbridge Gorge engage with the World Heritage Site and the extent to which resident populations absorb, resist and negotiate the meanings and practices of it ‘being’ World Heritage
  2. The ways in which a World Heritage Site is implicated/active in education programmes and the learning processes relating not only to site histories but to the ideas of transnational, universal value implied through World Heritage status and the discursive agendas of UNESCO
  3. How tourists, from increasingly diverse cultural backgrounds, experience this cultural landscape and the ways in which its ‘World Heritage-ness’ is consumed, communicated and enacted
  4. The issues of communicating the specific values of industrial heritage to audiences increasingly remote from the material realities and narratives of the industrial past

Each of the projects are designed to provide the successful students with a combination of both academic training of the highest quality and training through direct experience of working with the heritage sector.

The studentships will fall under the overall guidance of Professor Mike Robinson, Chair of Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham, and will enable four coordinated PhD students to undertake pioneering research on the meanings and values of World Heritage, focussing on the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, and with the support of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

The students will be based at the University of Birmingham but will be expected to spend most of their second year of fieldwork at Ironbridge Gorge some 40 miles from the University of Birmingham campus. In year three, the students will divide their time between Birmingham and Ironbridge as appropriate, while working on the analysis of their collected data, following up their research, continuing to work alongside the Institute’s other PhD students, academics and distinguished Visiting Fellows, and writing up their work. It is also during this final year that the students will assist in organising and participating in a workshop with UNESCO to discuss the theme of communicating World Heritage and configurations of value to communities, and also feedback their results and recommendations directly to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

Throughout their projects, the four students will benefit from working alongside each other, representing a unique opportunity to undertake Doctoral Research in this field as part of a team of researchers. They will also have access to real opportunities for knowledge exchange and mutual engagement with different working practices thanks to the Institute’s collaboration with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and UNESCO World Heritage.

Value of Award
Each studentship will cover tuition fees at full-time UK rates, along with a maintenance stipend of £13,863/year and a £1,000/year bursary for travel and other research expenses.

Eligibility Criteria
Please note that only students who are UK residents are eligible to receive the annual stipend as per AHRC rules, and EU students are eligible to receive a fees-only studentship. Non-UK/EU students are not eligible under this scheme; complete rules on AHRC PhD studentship eligibility can be found on their website:

How to Apply
In order to apply for one of the studentships please contact Dr John Carman in the first instance - j.carman@bham.ac.uk. Please quote ‘AHRC CDA Heritage Studentship’.