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AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership:

Fully funded PhD studentship

‘A critical examination of the 'Public Programme' within contemporary art institutions.’

Birkbeck, University of London (School of Arts)

Tate Modern, London

The School of Arts, Birkbeck, invites applications for an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with Tate, starting in October 2016 for a period of up to three years.

The award will enable the student to pursue doctoral research in Arts Management in the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies while gaining first-hand experience of work within a museum setting. The successful applicant will be enrolled at and receive their degree from Birkbeck.

Supervisors are: Dr Ben Cranfield (Department Film, Media and Cultural Studies) and Dr Marko Daniel (Tate Modern).

Project outline

The 'public programme' is an under-researched and theorised cultural object. Despite its ubiquity in today's arts organisations it often remains an adjunctive and supplementary activity and form. However, the public programme could be said to define the contemporary art institution - developed by non-collection based organisations and then brought back into the museum as a primary function of its intellectual and moral project. Whilst the public programme has not yet been the subject of in-depth scholarly enquiry, the rise of curatorial studies, museum studies and exhibition histories have created a growing interest in the complex nexus of spaces and forms through which the discourse of art and its publics are produced. Investigating the public programme provides a furtherance of these fields and a point for their critique. An examination of the public programme provides a perspective on the recent history of new institutionalism as well as a longer view on the post-war moment that made promises to an imagined 'public' for arts and education.

The successful candidate will investigate the idea and form of the public programme through a practiced-based historical-critical enquiry into the particular ways in which 'public' and 'programme' have been mobilised, challenged and reassessed through their propositional interrelation. The project will address the work of three organisations, Open School East, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) and Tate, who are currently critically using and reflecting on forms of public programming: Tate through the Tate Exchange programme, at mima through an overarching reconfiguration of their programme so as to 'test new approaches to making art work in society' (mima Vision 2015 - 2018) and at Open School East through the opening of their study programme so as 'to foster cultural, intellectual and social exchanges between artists and the broader public' (Open School East website).

This project will use these organisations as a lens through which to analyse questions concerning the potentialities and problems of the public programme.  The partnership will create a space to invoke a speculative archive of public programmes, current and past, through which an historical and critical enquiry can take place. The process of enquiry will take the form of the subject that it seeks to investigate: public programming, in conjunction with a written thesis.  The CPD candidate will themselves programme a series of public events that critically investigate the material being brought to light by the research. In addition to using Tate and its partners as case-studies this Doctoral project will take advantage of key resources held in the Tate Gallery Archive and Gallery Records in order to explore precedents to and genealogies of the contemporary public programme.

Specific areas and approaches that the candidate may wish to explore in combination include; radical pedagogies; political activism and the legacies of 1968; the shaping of public institutions and notions of the public in the post-war period; the relationship between performance, participation and conceptions of ‘audience’; alternative approaches to public history and archives; and feminist, queer and post-colonial perspectives on public space and institutions.

Eligibility criteria

  • Studentships are open to residents of the United Kingdom or the European Union including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Candidates must be ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK in order to be eligible for a ‘full’ award (fees plus stipend). EU nationals who are not ordinarily resident in the UK may be eligible for ‘fees-only’ awards. Eligibility is dependent upon satisfying AHRC academic and residency criteria: see Page 13 of the RCUK Training Grant Terms and Conditions
  • Non-EU students are not eligible.
  • Applicants should hold, in a relevant area of history, art history, cultural studies, arts management or museum studies (other areas will be considered) a first class or good upper second class Honours degree, and a Master’s degree with merit or distinction (or their overseas equivalents). Applicants whose Master’s results are pending may be considered.
  • Prior curatorial or programming experience is desirable.
  • All applicants need to be proficient in spoken and written English.
    • Application Deadline: 16 May 2016

Value and specified use of award

  • The studentship funding is subject to final confirmation by the AHRC but will be fully funded for three years full-time (or five years part-time) and will begin in October 2016.
  • The award will include a full fee waiver capped at the value of the full-time Home/EU rate for M.Phil/PhD degrees (currently £4,052), in addition to an annual stipend set at Research Council rates (as of 2014-15 this was £14,057 plus £2000 London weighting, paid quarterly; pro rata in the case of a part-time award).
  • The student will be eligible to apply for funding from Birkbeck and Tate, for certain other research-related expenses.

Application procedure

    Deadline: 16 May 2016
    Interviews: week commencing May 30 2016.
    Start of PhD: 1 October 2016

    Applicants should complete the application form, and send it to by 12 noon on 16 May 2016. The subject line of the email should read 'Candidate Name - AHRC CDP Tate'.

    The application must include a CV, a writing sample of no more than 5000 words, and a research proposal of c.2000 words outlining their particular research interests in the field of the proposed doctorate.

    Please select this link for guidance on completing a research proposal.

    Interviews for shortlisted candidates will be conducted in London in the week commencing May 30th 2016.

    The successful applicant will then be invited to apply formally to the PhD programme in Arts Management at Birkbeck. Acceptance to the scholarship will be conditional upon receiving a formal offer from Birkbeck, and meeting any conditions of that offer.

    Contact details

    Queries about the studentship can be addressed to Dr Ben Cranfield

Funding provider


    Please note the database is updated regularly but is a guide only and not a guarantee of funding nor an exhaustive list of all funding available.