PhD Studentships - Collections-Based Research Programme

Reading's doctoral training programme in original collections and archival research is a nationally distinctive route to PhD study that allows students to build a bespoke profile of skills and experience whilst engaged in original research.

PhD Collections-based research

Candidates undertake a programme of advanced research that draws significantly on one of the University's outstanding collections and archives. The University of Reading is recognised for the exceptional diversity and quality of its museums and collections, including three designated collections of national and international importance. 

Students will be assigned a subject specialist supervisory team and produce a thesis that will satisfy the University criteria for the award of a doctorate.  In addition, candidates will benefit from being part of a community of scholars and researchers across disciplines.

The Collections-Based Research Programme is designed around developing aptitude in collections-based research and is structured around five elements including evaluated skills components:

  • a subject-specific PhD thesis on a research topic that draws significantly on the University's nationally and internationally renowned archives and collections 
  • a core training and skills module, 'Approaches to Collections-Based Research'
  • subject-specific training and advice both within and, where relevant, across disciplines
  • weekly surgery slots for collection specific queries
  • a practice-based learning portfolio including opportunities for metadata enhancement; public engagement work; a creative engagement project; a placement of internship.

The programme offers transferable skills that will enhance employability in publishing, museums and heritage, research posts, the information and cultural sectors, as well as academia.

This programme can either be taken on a full time basis or part time basis.

Shortlisted candidates will have an opportunity to explore their relevant archives and meet supervisors at an interview.

If you have any queries or questions about this programme, please contact the Programme Director, Professor Alison Donnell -

Currently advertised projects

Please see the links below for details of projects currently being advertised:

Research projects already underway

Researchers who have won studentships in previous years are already undertaking research in the following topics:

The Limits of Desire: the Mills & Boon romance market, 1946-73 Painters of Boeotian red-figure vases from the 4th century BC Animating the Evacuee Archive: Memory and Materiality Changes in farm business structure in England, 1936-56

Using the videos below, you can hear more from University academics about several of the projects that are already underway within Collections-based research.


The Limits of Desire: the Mills & Boon romance market

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Animating the Evacuee Archive

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Things to do now

Find out more about currently advertised PhD projects

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