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Apply for a PhD studentship at the University of Brighton, England


Applications are solicited from interested students for a fully-funded three-year PhD, funded through the Techne DTP, to be jointly hosted by the Black Country Visual Arts (BCVA) and the Centre for Design History at the University of Brighton. The project offers an exciting opportunity for a student to study British South Asian heritage for factory work.

Project Description

Fully -funded three-year PhD, funded through the Techne DTP, to be jointly hosted by the Black Country Visual Arts (BCVA) and the Centre for Design History at the University of Brighton. The project offers an exciting opportunity for a student to study British South Asian heritage about factory work. The BCVA digital archive comprises 2000 photographs, featuring street life, fashion and domestic material culture (the 1960s–Present), 36 photographs of Punjabi factory workers (1992) and is ever-expanding. Using archival research, oral history interviews and object analysis as key methods, the project will help shape understandings of how the material environments of the home and factory and preservation of tangible and intangible heritage, enabled the South Asian community in the Black Country to inhabit the diasporic space.

Studentship start date

The phD studentship start date is October 2021 which is enough time for successfully selected students to prepare for the academic journey.

Aims of the research  project

This project will contribute towards ethnically inclusive British design and photographic histories, aligning with urgent calls for representative and decolonial disciplines. It aims to:

1. Use the Black Country Visual Arts’ Apna and Punjabi Workers photographic archives to study the relationship between factory work, leisure and domesticity and their photographic representations. In particular, the collections will form the departure point for exploration of the role of industrial production and manual labour in the lives of the Punjabi diasporic communities, for whom, owing to migration laws, work formed a lynchpin for creating a home in post-war Britain.

2. Examine how archival resources can contribute to greater understandings of the processes of home-making, production of British identities and community heritage practices amid chronic racism in the Black Country from the 1960s.

3. Analyse the role and agency of the photographic archive in the constructions of memories of ‘homeland’ through the survey and interpretation of extant collections and the recording, collecting and preservation of further photographs.

Benefits of the research project

Selected students for this project stand to gain quite a lot from this research which include:

  • The student will have the opportunity to devise their own project with supervisory guidance, and consult supporting and comparative sources for historical and contextual material: Wolverhampton City Archives; Birmingham Central Library; Jubilee Arts Archive; the Open University Making Britain database; the Indian Workers’ Association Archive at the National Archives, and the British Library Asians in Britain collections.
  • Objects and spaces featured in the BCVA photographs, such as Indian dolls, garlands, domestic interiors and industrial sewing machines will help develop a material understanding of the diaspora experience. The student will be introduced to BCVA archives and activities, the key organisational partners Wolverhampton City Archives (where a desk space will be provided) and the Indian Workers’ Association, as well as links to the community for object analysis and oral history interviews.
  • In addition to developing research and academic writing skills, this project will provide the student opportunities to gain practical skills in installing exhibitions, delivering workshops, working with artists, grant development and fundraising, as well as, in the context of Covid-19, building diverse audiences for the archives online, via online exhibitions, social media and blogs. This project will prepare the student for future work in the cultural sector and academia.


The deadline for applications is February 15, 2021.


Applicants must satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements and should normally have a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree and desirably hold or expect to achieve excellent grades in a masters degree, in a relevant subject from a UK university or comparable qualifications from another recognised university.

Applicants are also required to submit a research proposal of no more than 1,000 words. (See technē guidance notes in the technē online application process.)

Some prior knowledge of art and/or design history is essential, and familiarity with BAME communities and migration histories are desirable.  Due to the nature of this project, we are keen to receive applications from applicants who identify as South Asian and have some understanding of Punjabi heritage.

For entry in the 2021/22 academic year, the AHRC has relaxed the restrictions on eligibility for non-UK applicants. We can now accept applications from home and non-UK resident students. There will be a recruitment cap of 30 per cent on non-UK resident studentships awarded across the consortium. The management of this cap will be through the selection process. Successful candidates will receive a full stipend and fees at the UKRI rate. See technē guidance notes (included in technē online application process) for full details of residency requirements.

English language entry requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must have successfully completed a Secure English language Test (SELT) in the last two years.

Applicants who have obtained or are studying for a UK degree may apply without a SELT. However, the university may request a SELT is taken as part of any award made.

English language IELTS requirements are 7.0 overall, with 7.0 in writing, and no components below 6.5.

Details of the Award

The studentship, funded through the AHRC Techne DTP, will cover tuition fees at the standard postgraduate home level plus an annual maintenance stipend at the UKRI rate (£15,285 2020-2021 rate) with an additional £550 per annum to cover travel to visit the CDA partner.

As a technē student, the person selected will have full access to the Techne Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 50 students per year from across nine universities in London and the South East. Techne students can also apply for additional funding to support individual or group training and development activities.

Application Procedure

You will need to complete both a University of Brighton online application form and the first part of the Techne online application form (which you need to attach to your university application).

The application forms

Techne online application form: Complete the student part of the application form up to section 15 (please leave the Equal Opportunities monitoring form BLANK at this stage). Once completed, use the button to generate a PDF of the document. The online application process includes detailed guidance notes.

University of Brighton online application form: Complete your University of Brighton application attaching your transcripts, references, passport and the PDF of your technē application. Any upload button can be used to attach these documents. (Please note, in some sections, the two forms ask for duplicate information; please ensure you complete all fields in both forms.)

Applicants are advised to be available should they be called for interview.

Apply now!!

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