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AHRC CDP grant: The Royal Photographic Society, 1853-1914

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


Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship to research the early history of the Royal Photographic Society supervised at Birkbeck University of London, in partnership with the V&A Museum.

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

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

Advice for applicants

Project details


  • The project, due to begin in October 2021, will be supervised by Professor Steve Edwards (Professor of History and Theory of Photography, Birkbeck) and Dr Duncan Forbes (Director, Department of Photography, V&A Museum).

Value and length of funding

  • Value
    • The award pays tuition fees (home or overseas) and an annual stipend paid quarterly. 
    • 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. 
    • This studentship also offers £1000 for research and travel expenses across the duration of the studentship from the V&A.
  • Funding length
    • Funding is through the AHRC's Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme and is subject to standard AHRC eligibility, rules, and guidance for the research students whom they fund and support. 
    • This studentship is funded for three years and nine months (45 months) full-time or part-time equivalent, with a stipend. 
    • The studentship has the possibility of being 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 award holder will be appropriately embedded for a period on this basis within the V&A.
    • The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis. 


  • Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in history or other relevant discipline and those with interests in art history, history of science and technology, history of collecting, history of museums and archives, visual culture, and anthropology will be especially welcome. 
  • Applicants will also need to satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements including Master's-level research training or equivalent. 
  • We particularly welcome candidates with prior experience in working with museum, art and/or archival collections, though others are encouraged to apply.
  • This funding is open to all prospective students and in a full-time or part-time capacity. 

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 RPS CDP BBK/V&A. 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 of your qualifications for, and reasons for interest in, the project, and a research proposal up to 1,500 words. Please note, the online programme application advises that School of Arts proposals may be up to 2,000 words. For this project, 1,500 words is expected. This should identify how your current academic interests relate to the doctoral project, explaining 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 a chapter of your MA or equivalent. This could be your BA dissertation or additional recent academic or museum blog posts etc. 
  • 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: Sunday 30 May 2021, 11.59pm
  • Deadline for references: Sunday 6 June 2021, 11.59pm
  • Interview date: Interviews are likely to be held via Skype in June, but successful applicants will be notified accordingly.
  • Only complete and timely applications received, with both references, can be considered.

Further information