AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) PhD Scholarship 2020


AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) PhD Scholarship 2020
UK , EU students


Entry date
Successful applicants will be expected to begin their studies at Heriot-Watt on 1 October 2020

The Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies (LINCS) within the School of Social Sciences of Heriot-Watt  is offering one full-time PhD scholarship to start in the academic year 2020-21 and is looking for an outstanding, British Sign Language using candidate who is excited about undertaking an interdisciplinary PhD.

This scholarship arises through an award made by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to a partnership of Heriot-Watt University and Historic Environment Scotland (HES, a member of the Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium) under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. The project will draw upon the subject expertise of LINCS’ Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland and its Intercultural Research Centre.

BSL signed video

Here you can view a BSL signed video about the PhD scholarship.

Location and supervision

The student will be based on campus (in Edinburgh) in the School of Social Sciences but will be jointly supervised by HES. Short periods of fieldwork are expected in Edinburgh and Inverness. The student will work closely with HES (spending time within the organisation in Edinburgh) and have access to its extensive facilities. Research skills training will be provided as required. Supervision will be provided by an interdisciplinary team from Heriot-Watt University (Professor Graham H. Turner and Dr Annelies Kusters, both BSL users) and Historic Environment Scotland (Dr Fiona Hutchison, Research Manager, and Ms Sally Gall, Interpretation Officer for Access and Audiences). The candidate will become part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.

Award details

CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3 years and 9 months) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities. The award pays annual tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home/EU UKRI rate for PhD degrees. The Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2020/21 is £4,407. The award pays full maintenance for UK citizens and residents only. For such candidates, the National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285. The funding award additionally includes £1,600 per annum in research expenses/allowance. Further details can be found on the UKRI website.

Candidate qualities

We seek a highly motivated individual with a propensity for independent thought, creativity and lateral thinking. We are open to consider candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, with some core attributes outlined below. You should be an analytical thinker who is fluent in BSL and profoundly aware of the lived experiences of the signing community in the UK. Particular knowledge of Scotland and the BSL community in Scotland would be an advantage. There will also be opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement with relevant institutional partners across all sectors.

Research impact

Insights from this project will feed in directly to HES’ work in improving learning and interpretation at its ‘Properties in Care’. It will also inform the wider heritage sector in the UK, operators of historic visitor attractions, and heritage professionals seeking to engage more with their local signing communities. The unique features of this opportunity thus offer an exceptional chance for the right candidate to develop ideas which will create ripples of change for BSL signers throughout the culture and heritage sector. 

Project focus

The project will explore how deaf BSL users discuss, consume, experience and value Scotland’s built heritage. Research questions of interest include:

  • Which are the places that matter most to members of the signing community, and why?
  • How do signing deaf people describe their relationships with locally and nationally significant built heritage?
  • What signs do BSL users use relating to heritage? Do they have common sign-names for sites and places?
  • What barriers exist to their interest, interaction or emotional connections with the places looked after by Historic Environment Scotland?
  • How do the ways in which signers talk about place correspond to, or differ from, what communities in Scotland generally value about their built heritage?


For each of our two locations (Edinburgh and Inverness), the data to be gathered will consist of:

  • historical data on deaf landmarks: archival research
  • participant observation in tours of heritage sites 
  • BSL interviews with key participants in the community.

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

All new CDP students will be expected to participate in the British Museum CDP Student Launch Event on Monday 21 September 2020.

Entry criteria

Shortlisted applicants must have a good honours undergraduate or Masters degree or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Please note that possession of the minimum qualifications does not guarantee shortlisting for interview. You can contact Professor Graham Turner g.h.turner@hw.ac.uk for more information on academic aspects of the project.

Please note we will be looking to recruit someone fluently bilingual in BSL and English for the position. Lived experience as a signing deaf person would be desirable, at a minimum. Appropriate deaf candidates can apply for Disabled Student Allowance (covering, for example, interpreting to support meetings, etc). The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

This studentship is open to UK/EU students who meet the residency requirements set out in the UKRI Conditions of Research Council Training Grants. We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the museum sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

Please note that all applicants must meet the AHRC’s academic criteria and residency requirements.

How to apply

You should submit their application via https://www.hw.ac.uk/study/apply/uk/postgraduate.htm

You should select the option “Languages PhD” and state clearly on their application that they are applying for this LINCS/HES AHRC PhD Scholarship.

You should supply all of:

  • a full curriculum vitae
  • copies of full academic transcripts from all previous academic degree courses and copies of degree certificates for degrees already awarded (or, if you are currently pursuing a degree course, all available marks to date)
  • a letter of motivation.

Closing date for applications: 30 June 2020

Applicants who progress to the next stage will be interviewed as soon as feasible after the closing date, either in person in Edinburgh or remotely via a video link.