A 3-year AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD studentship: Collecting the Nation: Scottish history, patriotism and antiquarianism after Scott, (1832-91)

Published: 14 March 2016

The University of Glasgow, in partnership with National Museums Scotland and with support from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified applicant for a full-time collaborative PhD studentship.

The University of Glasgow, in partnership with National Museums Scotland and with support from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified applicant for a full-time collaborative PhD studentship. The student will critically examine the interface between the development of modern Scottish historiographical traditions and the evolution of the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in the under-researched period 1832-1891, from the death of Sir Walter Scott, regarded as the father of Scottish antiquarianism, to the opening of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in Edinburgh.  National Museums of Scotland

The studentship will commence on 1 October 2016 and will last for three years.

This is an exciting opportunity to pursue an original doctoral research project within the School of Humanities, University of Glasgow, working closely with National Museums Scotland expertise and collections. History at Glasgow was ranked in the top 20 in the UK at the last REF exercise (2014) and for Impact and Environment was in the top five. Scottish History is a specific specialism within the History Group, and the Scottish History group have recorded major research successes in recent years, including attracting over £1m. in external funding in the period 2010-2013. National Museums Scotland is renowned for its curatorial expertise as well as its world-leading publications. In addition to producing an original PhD dissertation based on the National Museums Scotland collections, the research will support public programming activity at National Museums Scotland in partnership with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and future reinterpretation of the collections will be disseminated online.

The studentship

Relationships between academic history, collecting and public history are fluid and regularly contested. This was especially true of 19th-century Scotland, a time when the study of history was aspiring to scientific status but was also influenced by concerns with national self-definition.

The Scottish collections of National Museums Scotland grew from those created by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (est.1780). The successful candidate’s research will map the relationships between writing, collecting and representing the Scottish past in the period 1832-91, where the Society’s collections grew significantly, the emergence of ‘scientific’ historical practice invigorated and questioned older antiquarian traditions, history and archaeology began to diverge into discrete disciplines, and the legacy of Romanticism, and the influence of Sir Walter Scott, was negotiated by archaeologists, historians and the wider Scottish cultural community. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop their theoretical and organisational approach in consultation with their supervisory team as the project develops. Possible research questions include:

  • What determined the nature and scope of the collections of the Society? What were the main intellectual influences on Scottish antiquaries and historians in this period? How many Antiquaries also wrote histories? Who were the main historians in the Society? How did material culture feature in their histories? How did history shape their antiquarian practice/collecting? In what ways and to what extent did the Society interact with historical and literary societies? 
  • To what extent were historians of Scotland also collectors of material objects? How did material culture feature in their histories? 
  • How did the Society perceive its civic national role and that of its museum? How did the legacy of the Enlightenment and Romanticism shape appreciations of the public function of museums and histories? How were the Society’s collections received by the wider public?
  • How might our understanding of associational culture, the role of collectors and the evolution of museums in this period, assist practitioners in shaping a museum strategy for the future?


The student will be supervised by Dr Catriona Macdonald and Professor Dauvit Broun at the University of Glasgow and Dr Stuart Allan, Principal Curator of Late Modern Collections in the Department of Scottish History and Archaeology at National Museums Scotland, with further supervisory support from Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator of Iron Age and Roman Collections.

The student will additionally benefit from working in partnership with staff at National Museums Scotland, and will receive training in public outreach, museum curatorship and artefact analysis. The student will be encouraged to attend and contribute to national and international conferences as appropriate during the course of their study.


Applicants must:

  • Have or a first or upper-second class honours degree or equivalent in History, Archaeology or a related subject.
  • Have completed a masters-level qualification preferably in History or Archaeology, though related disciplines will be considered. We will also consider candidates who expect to have completed a relevant Master’s degree by October 2016.
  • Be a resident of the UK or European Economic Area (EEA).

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.

Funding Details

This award is funded by the AHRC through the Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium. Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the studentship will cover Home/EU tuition fees and a stipend towards living expenses. The value of the stipend for 2016/17 is yet to be confirmed, however, for 2016/17 it is likely to be £14,296 plus a £550 additional stipend payment. In addition, National Museums Scotland will provide up to £1,000 per year to contribute towards travel and related research costs. The studentship is covered by standard AHRC rules and guidance.

How to apply

The studentship will commence on 1 October 2016 and will last for three years. A further six months of funding for public engagement activity at National Museums Scotland is provided through the Student Development Fund.

Candidates wishing to submit an application should prepare and submit the following documentation:

  • A statement of no more than 1,000 words describing in detail your interest in and suitability for undertaking this project 
  • A current CV 
  • A transcript of qualifications to date (and anticipated results if you are still studying for your Masters)
  • An example of scholarly work up to 5000 words in length (e.g. a full essay or dissertation chapter) 
  • 2 academic references
  • Closing date for receipt of complete applications: 1 May 2016
  • Applications, with the Subject line ‘NMS Studentship’ should be emailed to Humanities-scholarships@glasgow.ac.uk
  • Interviews are provisionally scheduled for late May 2016. The interviews will take place at the National Museum of Scotland, though there is provision for them to be undertaken by Skype. Only short-listed candidates will be invited to interview.
  • Start date: 1 October 2016

Further information

Informal enquiries about the project’s scope can be made by contacting Dr Catriona Macdonald or Dr Stuart Allan.

Further information on:

First published: 14 March 2016

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