PhD Studentship - Building Roman Britain: Investigating and Interpreting the Sources of Stone and Ceramic Building Materials Used in Roman Bath 2018, UK


June 03, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Studentship - Building Roman Britain: Investigating and Interpreting the Sources of Stone and Ceramic Building Materials Used in Roman Bath 2018, UK

Building Roman Britain: investigating and Interpreting the Sources of Stone and Ceramic Building Materials used in Roman Bath


Project Details

This project is based on a partnership with the Roman Baths Museum which is at the heart of the City of Bath UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The research will consolidate and enhance the study of distinctive Roman building materials in order to determine their source, distribution and use in the creation of Roman Bath, using the Roman city as an exemplar of how the Romans changed the notion of urbanisation in Britain.

The research will include a combination of chemical analysis techniques, such as portable X-Ray Florescence (pXRF), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM/EDX) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectroscopy, to identify sources by ‘fingerprinting’ materials from the Roman Baths Museum's collections and matching these to possible sources (e.g. quarries for stone and clay for bricks and tiles). The use of pXRF is novel as it allows samples that are too large to move into a laboratory to be analysed in situ.

The Roman Baths Museum is currently undergoing a large, three-year redevelopment that focuses on the Roman Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site and incorporates ‘investigation and access zones’ into areas of the baths formerly unavailable to the visiting public. It is in these zones that the project will become an important contributor to the public’s understanding of Roman Britain through the use of modern scientific techniques. In addition, web based initiatives will further enhance the dissemination of this project to a wide audience.

Academic Impact  

While XRF has been used for some time in archaeology, the recent development of portable XRF has added a whole new dimension. BU is at the leading edge of this development. The study of Roman building material (i.e. limestones, and ceramic building material) creates an opportunity to further develop an analysis methodology, and then to apply it to the early Roman settlement of Britain. Questions about how and where production (both quarrying and kiln-works) was organised will be addressed alongside the location of production centres. This work has impact far beyond Roman Bath, as it has implications for the concept of ‘Romanisation’ of Britannia in the early years of the Roman Conquest of Britain.

Societal Impact 

This project is based at the Roman Baths Museum. The site consists of the remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world and this and the attached museum attracts over one million visitors a year – making it one of the most visited heritage attractions in the United Kingdom. The research has been designed to be integrated into a programme of public facing initiatives that will use the results to underpin the public understanding of science. This project fits with government and Museum Association policy to increase the teaching of science and technology through bold and exciting uses of ‘hard science’. In addition to the substantial contributions that the research will make to the new investigation zones at the museum (see project summary), it is expected the student to apply to participate in the BU Festival of Learning and also encourage an off-site activity in year 2 that will be based in Bath.

Training Opportunities

Full-training will be provided on the portable XRF technology that will be central to this work. Further training in SEM, ICP analysis and statistics will be provided where necessary. BU PhD Studentship Project Description The student will be required to work closely with the partner ensuring they gain substantive experiential training in the public understanding of science, the creation of museum displays, the creation of public facing content, and related activities. Committee will expect the student to fully engage with the Doctoral College Research Skills Training, and Personal Development Programme as appropriate and depending on their background/experience.


The PhD Studentships are open to UK, EU and International students. Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

  • outstanding academic potential as measured by either a 1st class honours degree or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • an IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component) for candidates for whom English is not their first language

In addition to satisfying minimum entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

Applicants will be asked to submit an online application form and a proposal (c. 1500 words) outlining their understanding of the project for which they are applying, the approach they would envisage taking and what qualities they will bring to the research community.

Please note:

  • Current BU Doctoral students are not eligible to apply for a Studentship
  • Current MRes/MPhil students can apply, subject to satisfactory completion of their Research Degree prior to being able to take up the award BU PhD Studentship Project Description
  • PhD Studentships cannot be used to support BU staff to complete doctoral programmes

This is a fully-funded PhD studentship which includes a stipend of £14,777 each year to support your living costs.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
February 28, 2018
Link To Original