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AHRC CDP grant: London's National Gallery and the ‘Centre of Empire’, 1824-1924

Birkbeck and The National Gallery are pleased to announce a fully funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship under the AHRC's Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme from October 2021.


The studentship is funded through the AHRC's Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme

This project investigates and maps the impact of empire on the origins and development of The National Gallery, focussing on the first century of donors, trustees and patrons since its foundation in 1824.

The student will be expected to spend time at both Birkbeck and The National Gallery and to become an active member of both academic and research communities, as well as belonging to the wider cohort of CDP students across the UK. 

The successful candidate will be eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events.

Advice for applicants

Project details


  • The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (Senior Research Curator, The National Gallery) and Dr Sarah Thomas (Senior Lecturer, History of Art and Museum Studies, Birkbeck). 

Value and length of funding

  • Value
    • The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full- or part-time home/overseas UKRI rate for PhD degrees.
    • The student is eligible to receive an additional travel and research-related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of The National Gallery.
    • The award pays full maintenance for both Home and overseas students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2021/22 is £15,609, plus a CDP maintenance payment of £550/year plus London Weighting of £2,000/year. 
    • Visit the UKRI website for more details
  • Funding length
    • CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for three years and nine months (45 months) or part-time equivalent. 
    • The studentship may be extended for an additional three months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to three months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.
    • The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis. 


  • This studentship is open to both home and overseas applicants. 
  • We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming people from BAME backgrounds to apply.
  • Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Master's-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include art history, museum studies, cultural studies or history.
  • Applicants should demonstrate a passion for the museum sector, and a willingness for their research to help inform future National Gallery catalogues and exhibitions. They should be keen to take part in and help organise workshops and conferences around the subject.
  • As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both Birkbeck and the National Gallery.
  • All applicants must agree to, and meet the AHRC/UKRI terms and conditions for research

How to apply

  • Programme application
    • All applications are made via the Birkbeck application portal to the MPhil/PhD History of Art programme.
    • The application will prompt you to confirm details of any scholarships or grants (for your proposed study at Birkbeck). Please ensure you respond with: AHRC CDP BBK/NG. If this section is not clearly marked, your application may not be picked up for assessment.
  • Supporting documents
    • A single research proposal document (uploaded under ‘research proposal') including your CV, a covering letter including a statement concerning eligibility for this fellowship and a research proposal up to 2,000 words. The proposal should identify how your current academic interests relate to the doctoral project, and explain your reasons for wishing to undertake this research. The research proposal should also indicate critical contexts for the project. It can also outline how you might wish to refine the project so as to meet specific research aims of your own.
    • Transcripts of relevant studies and, where appropriate, a letter from your course coordinator predicting the expected degree result (for those who still have to complete their current Master’s-level programme).
    • A sample of writing such as your MA dissertation, or similar.
  • References
    • Referees will be automatically prompted to upload their references when you submit your application.
    • We strongly encourage you to contact referees as early as possible to ensure they are prepared to upload their reference by the referee deadline (see below).

Closing date for applications

  • Closing date for applications: Friday 14 May 2021, 2pm
  • Deadline for references: Monday 24 May 2021, 2pm
  • Interview date: w/c 24 May 2021
  • Only complete and timely applications received, with both references, can be considered. 

Further information