JOB: PhD Studentship in Digital Humanities at University College London

16 Jan 2017 - 00:00


PhD Studentship in Digital Humanities - Ref:1619245 

UCL Department / Division:

Information Studies

Duration of Studentship

3 years full-time


£16,296 per annum + fees (pro rata for 16-17 academic year)

UCL Announcement url:

Vacancy information

The Department of Information Studies at University College London (UCLDIS) invites competitive applications for a three year fully funded doctoral research studentship in the area of Digital Humanities. UCLDIS is a global research leader in information studies and related disciplines. UCL has a strong culture and tradition of interdisciplinary research, which has been a key factor in it currently attracting more research funding than any other UK university. UCLDIS is itself multidisciplinary, with research collaborations and funded research projects involving subject areas in the arts and humanities, psychology, social sciences, and computer science. It has four distinct research centres, including the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH; Founded in 2010, UCLDH is a cross-faculty research centre, bringing together a vibrant network of people who teach and research in a wide range of disciplines.

The proposed studentship will be embedded in Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogues of his collections, a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant awarded to the British Museum and UCL. Sloane’s collection was the foundation in 1753 of the British Museum which now has over 6 million visitors a year and a remarkable collection that spans over two million years of human history and culture. It is an Independent Research Organization with internationally renowned multidisciplinary research projects and co-supervising around 30 AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships. Crossing different academic disciplines and parts of the world, British Museum research provides new information and perspectives on the collection and the ancient and modern cultures it represents. In addition to training offered by UCL, the student will be a member of the British Museum’s own collaborative PhD community and will be able to attend training and cohort development activities provided by a consortium of major museums, libraries and heritage organisations to all their collaborative doctoral students.

Studentship Description

The aim of the studentship will be to use Sloane’s catalogues as a test bed on which to conduct research on how digital interrogation, inferencing and analysis techniques can allow new knowledge to be created about the information architectures of manuscript catalogues such as those of Sloane. The proposed research must also have a strong critical and analytical dimension so that it can be set within our wider framework of academic inquiry that is concerned with understanding how collections and their documentation together formed a cornerstone of the “laboratories” of the emergent Enlightenment. An existent framework for these inquiries can be explored in the online audio record of the AHRC funded 'Sloane's Treasures' workshops: the specialized nature of the project the supervisors will give guidance to the successful applicant on the development of a research proposal within the broad field of digital approaches to the interrogation of machine readable surrogates of early modern collection catalogues such as Sloane's. Possible approaches could include, but are not limited to: semantic web, linked open data, AI and machine learning, statistics, data mining, textual analysis, visualisation. The research will be supervised by one or more of the academics from the Digital Humanities team (Dr Julianne Nyhan, who is Co-Investigator of the Enlightenment Architectures project, will be primary supervisor) together with other colleagues from UCL, depending on the subject area. The research will also benefit from the advice and expertise of Dr Kim Sloan, a senior curator at the British Museum with responsibility for the Enlightenment Gallery and the Principle Investigator of Enlightenment Architectures and Dr Martha Fleming, collections-based research specialist and historian of science, and the Senior Research Assistant on the project. Two further Post Doctoral Research Assistants will form part of the team in which this studentship will be embedded. The studentship will also benefit from contact with wider scholarly communities of researchers participating in project workshops. The studentship is full-time and pays fees at UK/EU rate. In addition, teaching opportunities may be available in UCLDIS during its tenure. Initial registration will be for the degree of MPhil and the candidate will be expected to present a seminar and a written Upgrade report during their second year which will allow the upgrade of registration to PhD. General information for doctoral applicants is available on the DIS webpages at: Please note that there will be a two stage application process for this scholarship, with the initial application directly to DIS. It is expected that the studentship will commence in January 2017, although other start dates may be possible.

Person Specification

Applicants should have a good first degree, a Masters degree (minimum 2:1) in any one of information history, digital humanities, information studies, the history of collecting, the history of science, or a relevant field. An interest in any of the research areas of UCLDH, and excellent written, communication, and organisational skills. Any experience of working in a Digital Humanities or Cultural Heritage environment will be an asset, as would knowledge of Latin or another European language.


Applications will normally be restricted to candidates from the UK and EU countries. General information for doctoral applicants is available on the DIS webpages at: . There will be a two stage application process for this scholarship.

Candidates are asked to email to Kerstin Michaels (

  1. a cover letter that outlines the candidate’s background and skills, explains their suitability to undertake the proposed research and briefly discusses the directions their research might take within the wider project
  2. a CV
  3. a writing sample (c.3000 words)

The successful candidate will then be invited to apply through the usual UCL admissions processes. 

For further details of the studentship or an informal discussion please contact Dr Julianne Nyhan (

Contact details

Contact name

Kerstin Michaels

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Closing Date

16 Jan 2017

Latest time for the submission of applications


Studentship Start Date

January 2017