Collaborative Doctoral Awards – Projects available

Applications from prospective students for the LAHP Collaborative Doctoral Awards projects starting in October 2024 are now open.

Information Session

If you missed the Information Session held on 4th December, you can catch up on the presentation slides here

2024/25 Collaborative Doctoral Award Projects Recruiting

The collaborative doctoral awards open for applications are listed below.

  • ‘Lost for words’: semantic search in the Find Case Law service of The National Archives 

    CDA in collaboration between King’s College London and The National Archives  

    Primary academic supervisor: Dr Barbara McGillivray (King’s College London)  

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Nicki Welch (The National Archives)  

    Collaborative Partner lead contact: Rose Rees Jones (The National Archives)  

    Secondary academic supervisor: Dr Niccolò Ridi (King’s College London)  

    Co-academic supervisor: Marton Ribary (Royal Holloway University of London)  

    Access to case law is vital for safeguarding the constitutional right of access to justice. It enables members of the public to understand their position when facing litigation and to scrutinise court judgements. Since April 2022, UK court and tribunal decisions are preserved by The National Archives’ Find Case Law service as freely accessible online public records. This project seeks to improve Find Case Law by enhancing it with meaning-sensitive (semantic) search functionality. It will study how individuals without legal training use language to navigate court judgments and it will develop tools to facilitate this navigation. In most digital cultural heritage catalogues, while we can search for words within the metadata describing their records, we cannot search for records based on the meaning of words contained within these records, for examples the different words to refer to “knife crime”. Therefore, users’ access to collection is determined by their ability to articulate their information need precisely. Recent advances in natural language processing unlock new possibilities for querying documents via state-of-the-art semantic search. Incorporating such search capabilities in the Find Case Law collection is crucial for democratising access to digital collections, helping expose the social impact of how the law is written.  

    Skills required 


    • Experience with Natural Language Processing research and applied work, including developing new tools.  
    • Interest in working with UK case law for improving access to justice 


    • Background in law or legal research. 
    • Experience working with digital archives  
    • Knowledge of User experience (UX) research  
    • Knowledge of lexical semantics.  
    • Experience with semantic search.  
    • Experience with NLP applied to legal texts. 

      For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Barbara McGillivray on   



  • Culturally Specific Performance Practice and British East and Southeast Asian Representation
    New Earth Performer’s Academy 2022, photo by Ikin Yum

    CDA in collaboration between Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and New Earth Theatre

    Primary academic supervisor: Dr Broderick D.V. Chow (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Kumiko Mendl (New Earth Theatre)

    Collaborative Partner lead contact: As above

    Secondary academic supervisor: Dr Javeria K. Shah (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

    At a moment when discrimination against East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) people in the UK is growing, this CDA addresses the urgent question of the barriers that prevent ESEAs from telling our own stories, and the possibilities there are when we do. It will generate new knowledge in the root causes of the marginalization of British ESEA (BESEA) actors in theatre and performance as well as practice-based interventions in culturally specific and conscientious theatre training. Collaborating with New Earth Theatre (NET), a dedicated organization for BESEA theatre, this study examines how culturally specific spaces of artistic practice, including but not limited to actor training, might enable ESEA actors and performers to transform, challenge, or repair their narrow racialization. The project moves beyond textual and performance analysis of BESEA theatre through a range of methods, including case study research, interviews, rehearsal observation, and participation in performance practice, that allow the BESEA community to speak for itself, by centering their voices, experiences, and practices. The student will benefit from access to NET’s archives, networks, rehearsal and training spaces, and Central’s expertise in theatre training and research supervision. The research will further Central and NET’s shared mission of expanding opportunities for marginalized artists. 

    Specific Requirements:

    Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, and a Masters-level qualification or equivalent which meets AHRC requirements for research training. We also encourage applicants with relevant work/professional experience who are considering doing a PhD to apply.  Applications from candidates of underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged, and we strongly encourage applications from candidates of East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) heritage, who would be able to approach the research in an autoethnographic manner.  

    For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Broderick Chow on 

    All candidates must also submit their application for a PhD place to The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama(RCSSD) by Friday 19th January 2023.  

  • Information and empire: record-keeping at Kew Gardens as instrument and legacy of the British imperial project
    ©Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    CDA in collaboration between University College London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Primary academic supervisor: Professor Elizabeth Shepherd (University College London)

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Kiri Ross-Jones (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)

    Collaborative Partner lead contact: Caroline Cornish (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)

    Secondary academic supervisor: Dr Andrew Flinn (University College London)

    Empire and archives are intimately linked. Archival forms and record-keeping practices reflect and inform systems of governance; record-keeping was central to attempts by imperial powers to maintain administrative control. The Archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Kew are of significance to the history of global botany and in addressing questions of biodiversity loss, climate change, and environmental sustainability. This project will critically evaluate the history of the Kew Gardens Archives between 1841 and 1958 to understand record-keeping at Kew as both instrument and legacy of the British imperial project. By employing participatory research methods with historically impacted communities, the research will enable new, more diverse histories of Kew Gardens and British imperialism.  

    The project will produce the first history of the contexts and processes which created the RBG Kew Archives but, more importantly, will be a major critical history of a significant institutional archive, with the potential to further expand this important field of study. By employing a participatory research approach, new knowledge and community perspectives will be included within the history of the archive, reflecting on hidden traces and absences. The project will contribute to RBG Kew’s public engagement activities which highlight Kew’s changing history and re-interpretation. 

    Specific requirements:

    In addition to the requirement of an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject and a Master’s degree or equivalent professional experience, it would be desirable for the candidate to have some experience, qualification or understanding of archival science or archival history, demonstrated by, for example, use of archives in their previous research, a post-graduate qualification in archives and records management or relevant work experience in an archive. We particularly welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds, or those who could bring a community perspective to the research. 

    For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Elizabeth Shepherd on


  • Beyond Magic: Contextual and Material Study of Islamic Amulets
    Composite Islamic Amulet ©MAA

    CDA in collaboration between Queen Mary University of London and Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Cambridge

    Primary academic supervisor: Dr Eyal Poleg (Queen Mary University of London)

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Dr Mark Elliott (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge)

    Collaborative Partner lead contact: As above

    Secondary academic supervisor: Professor Yossi Rapoport (Queen Mary University of London)

    Islamic amulets abound from across Dar al Islam, a testimony to a buzzing religious and commercial creativity. This project will put their materiality centre-stage by exploring production and use, elements rarely addressed in research. It will analyse amulets to learn of the craftspeople and users who had left little record in written narratives. Shedding light on little explored Islamic collections at MAA, it will develop new means for their analysis. This will put centre-stage marginalised people and collections, while employing innovative technologies to redress the imbalance of research.  The proposed project will combine MAA’s extensive collections with world-leading expertise in religious and digital history at Queen Mary University of London, to add to our understanding of a key element of Islamic culture and religion. It will put these objects centre-stage, combining the examination of their materiality with documentary evidence for their production, dissemination and use. Beyond Magic will be supported by expertise from the Hidden in Plain Sight research team, who will provide a range of innovative scientific technologies, including 3D microscopy, CT scanning and ancient DNA to facilitate the student’s exploration of Islamic amulets. Results of the project will engage faith-groups and academic audiences alike. 

    Specific requirements:


    • Proficiency in Arabic (print and manuscript)
    • MA in Islamic history or related fields by the time of start of PhD (Upper 2:1 or First)


    • Experience in working in a museum environment or community engagement.

    For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Eyal Poleg on

  • ‘Weathering’ climate change: using museum collections to represent local experiences of climate change
    Courtesy of Museum of Cambridge
    ©John Sutton, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons

    CDA in collaboration between King’s College London and Museum of Cambridge

    Primary academic supervisor: Dr George Adamson (King’s College London)

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Annie Davies (Museum of Cambridge)

    Collaborative Partner lead contact: As above

    Secondary academic supervisor: Dr Anna Woodham (King’s College London)

    Climate change can result in a profound loss of heritage, through the seasonal changes that contribute to sense of place, and the loss of cultural practices associated with particular weather conditions. Representing this loss of weather-heritage through museum collections can help communities to manage loss and memorialise weather heritage that may otherwise be forgotten. It can also provide new avenues for local peoples’ engagement by presenting climate change as something meaningful to them, rather than an abstract global phenomenon requiring expertise to fully comprehend.

    This project will seek to develop a new theoretical framework for the representation of weather heritage through museum collections and will use this conceptual understanding to enrich the collections of the Museum of Cambridge, resulting in a new exhibition. The area of study is the East Anglian Fens, a region that has already lost heritage associated with fen skating, and that is liable to require managed flooding during this century due to sea level rise.

    Specific Requirements: 

    The project would likely candidate with a strong interest in climate change, and a background in cultural geography, environmental studies, museum, and heritage studies, or similar. Applicants will require a good Master’s degree or relevant professional experience. Familiarity with the Cambridgeshire Fens is desirable but not essential. 

    For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor George Adamson on

  • Intersection and Identity: Exploring the Professional and Personal Lives of Post-War Black Nurses in Britain
    Nurse training in Acton Hospital, London c.1958. (Credit: Royal College of Nursing Archive)

    CDA in collaboration between Queen Mary University of London and the Royal College of Nursing

    Primary academic supervisor: Dr Leslie James (Queen Mary University of London)

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Dr Sarah Chaney (Royal College of Nursing)

    Collaborative Partner lead contact: As above

    Secondary academic supervisor: Dr Rhodri Hayward (Queen Mary University of London)

    Co-academic supervisor: Dr Jenny Bangham (Queen Mary University of London)

    In 1969, 19-year-old Neslyn Watson-Druée arrived in England from Jamaica to start her nurse training. She undertook fieldwork practice as a health visitor in Brixton, where she ‘came face to face with abject poverty’ for the first time and ‘face to face with being ashamed about being black’. ‘I didn’t understand history.’ She later reflected in an oral history in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) collection. ‘I didn’t understand economics and I didn’t understand how society worked.’

    An intersectional approach to caring – between race and class, between professional and personal identities, between healthcare, politics and society – will open up new angles on Black British history, the history of the welfare state, and of empire and decolonisation. How did nurses integrate the varied approaches to nursing that they brought to the profession? The archive for this project allows for a transnational examination of how nursing practices around the world interacted in Britain, through journals and professional organisations as sites of knowledge exchange, as well as more informal routes.

    This project will draw on RCN collections including organisational history, personal papers of nurses, records of other nursing organisations, textbooks, journals, photos and oral histories with nurses. We expect the student to adopt an empirical approach through a close reading of these primary sources, alongside secondary literature on migration, Black British history, colonialism and the legacy of empire. They will carry out additional oral history interviews with nurses and support workers, to be deposited in the RCN archive. They will develop their research questions in a collaborative way, engaging nurses through the RCN Diversity Network and Library and Archive events, as well as sessions with community and special interest groups.

    We particularly welcome applications from students who identify as People of Colour, BAME and/or part of Black and Global Majority racial and ethnic groups.

    For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Leslie James on

  • A living archive of the British Black Power movement of the 1960s-70s
    Front cover of Black Dimension magazine, Volume 1, February 1969 (Courtesy of the George Padmore Institute)]

    CDA in collaboration between the School of Advanced Study and The National Archives.

    Primary academic supervisor: Dr Pragya Dhital (School of Advanced Study)

    Collaborative Partner supervisor: Dr Kevin Searle (The National Archives)

    Secondary academic supervisor: Dr Andrew Nash (School of Advanced Study)

    Collaborative Partner secondary supervisor: Dr Kaja Marczewska (The National Archives)

    This project explores the British Black Power movement of the 1960s-70s through an original focus on state surveillance of its unofficial publications. It will use innovative approaches to archival research and oral history to produce an important study of the movement, which will enlarge the scope of work on radical print and the policing of racialised communities.

    The project spans the period from formation of the British Black Panthers in 1968 to the repeal of the ‘sus laws’ (anti-vagrancy laws giving police stop and search powers) in 1981. This period saw a low point in race relations, characterised by provocative media coverage of a ‘mugging crisis’ and extensive use of ‘sus laws’. But it was also the period of the ‘mimeograph revolution’, a global efflorescence of DIY and radical print.

    A multi-layered and polyvocal perspective on the movement will be achieved through:

    – A bibliographic survey of the unofficial publications of the British Black Power movement of the 1960s-70s, currently found across many local collections and in National Archives surveillance records.

    – A survey of National Archives surveillance records on these publications and their authors. This will place surveillance of these works in historical and transnational perspective: cover the role of British anti-vagrancy laws dating back to the 16th century and also consider the use of Cold War-era cultural policing mechanisms.

    – Oral history interviews with people involved in the production and circulation of this literature. These will include recollections of the past and responses to this archival material in the present.

    Outputs can take the form of a standard academic thesis. But we would particularly welcome proposals adopting a creative or practice-based approach (e.g. proposing a work of fiction or creative nonfiction; an online or physical exhibition; a digital resource etc).

    Applicants should have a master’s degree in a relevant subject or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting (with examples of what this might be).

    We strongly encourage applicants from backgrounds currently underrepresented in archives and academia: first-generation university-educated; Black, Asian and Global Majority; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+); neurodivergent; with hidden or visible disabilities.

    Please note,  applicants will need to apply for a PhD place at the host academic institution, the Institute of English Studies, before submitting their submitting their CDA application to the LAHP. Details of the application process are available here:


    For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Dr Pragya Dhital ( or Collaborative Partner Supervisor Dr Kevin Searle (

    Dr Pragya Dhital and Dr Kevin Searle will holding an online information event for this award on 12th January 2024. Book your place here


2024/25 Collaborative Doctoral Award Applications


Please also check our FAQs page before you submit your application.

The list of CDA studentships funded by LAHP since 2018 is available here

Our Collaborative Doctoral Award Case Studies are available here

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