Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD Studentship: Archaeological Palaeoenvironmental Archives 2017, UK

Publish Date: Apr 28, 2017

Deadline: May 05, 2017

PhD Studentship: Archaeological Palaeoenvironmental Archives: Challenges and Potential with Historic England & University of Reading

Archaeological Palaeoenvironmental Archives: Challenges and Potential

A Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) studentship between the University of Reading and Historic England; funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

Project Overview

This Collaborative Doctoral Award studentship project will maximise the potential of palaeoenvironmental remains for academic research and public science engagement by co-designing new structures for their creation, curation and interpretation based upon a systematic evaluation of current archiving practices.

Research from the Society of Museum Archaeologists (SMA) has found that: there are 9000 undeposited archives, 27% of museums had no further space for archaeological archives, and 70% had no specialist curator (Edwards 2012). Research funded by Historic England explores the impact of austerity on archaeological archives (SMA 2016). Copley (2010) identified the challenges. The project will combine quantitative research with qualitative and collaborative academic research. Unlike previous research projects (Edwards 2012; SMA 2016) on durable materials, this focuses on environmental archives.


  1. What are the threats and opportunities for environmental archaeological archives?
  2. Which aspects of these archives are especially important to users?
  3. How can these archives be improved?
  4. How can theoretical and practice- based developments in public archaeology and science engagement enhance archive potential?

The archive has two parts:

  1. Digital records shared as part of wider databases which facilitate additional research eg assemblage comparisons, spatial contrasts and species occurrence through time. Many existing databases are partial.
  2. The ecofacts archive itself.

The volume of material has increased dramatically with huge scale excavations following PPG16. Plant remains may be charred, mineral-replaced or anaerobically preserved and this  PhD will focus on archaeobotanical and micro-zoological (eg insects and molluscs) archives where issues of value, reuse and retention need addressing. Environmental archaeology archives need to be better signposted to the potential user community so that they are more used and valued.  They also need to be accessible for research.

Lead Supervisors

Professor Martin Bell (University of Reading, Department of Archaeology and University Museums and Collections)

Duncan H Brown (Head of Archaeological Archives, Historic England)

Details of Award

  • This studentship is funded through the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme.
  • Collaboration between a Higher Education Institution and a museum, library, archive, or heritage organisation is the essential feature of these studentships. This project will be supervised jointly by Professor Martin Bell (University of Reading) and Duncan Brown (Historic England), and the student will be expected to spend time at both Reading and Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth, as part of their doctoral studies.
  • Starts October 1st October 2017
  • 3.5 year award (includes a Student Development Fund equivalent to 0.5 years of funding)
  • The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full time home/EU rate for PhD degrees as well as full maintenance (UK citizens and residents only). The value of the stipend will be a minimum of £14,846 (includes additional payment for CDA students).
  • The student is eligible to receive an additional travel and expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of Historic England.


  • Applicants should hold a first or upper-second class honours degree or equivalent and have competed a masters-level qualification, or be expecting to complete this by the time you start your PhD study
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is open to UK/EU students who meet the residency requirements set out in the RCUK Conditions of Research Council Training Grants.
  • In general, full studentships are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. Fees-only awards are generally available to EU nationals resident in the EEA. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this studentship.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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Host Countries

United Kingdom