PhD Studentships in Media History

Macquarie University Library, attr. to Mw12310, CC BY-SA 3.0

Macquarie University Library, attr. to Mw12310, CC BY-SA 3.0

A full-time joint international student PhD Macquarie Research Excellence Scholarship (MQRES) is available in the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University associated with Professor Bridget Griffen-Foley’s ARC Future Fellowship, ‘Switched-on Audiences: Australian Listeners and Viewers’.

The recipient will be jointly enrolled in both MMCCS, Macquarie University, Australia and with the School of History, University of St Andrews, Scotland. The supervisor at St Andrews will be Dr Chandrika Kaul. It is hoped the successful applicant will work on a comparative study of radio and/or television audiences in Australia and Britain. Proposals for a comparative study of newspaper or magazine reception history will also be considered.

Macquarie University is also home to Australia’s only Centre for Media History. Prospective applicants should, in the first instance, contact Professor Bridget Griffen-Foley at phone: (02) 9850 8828

The scholarship includes tuition fees payable at Macquarie University for up to 3 years; a living allowance stipend valued at AUD$25,849 pa (2015 rate) tax exempt, paid pro-rata for periods of time spent on campus at Macquarie University, for up to a maximum of 3 years and subject to terms and conditions of the joint degree agreement; and a return economy airfare between Australia and the United Kingdom. At St Andrews, the candidate will be given ​an annual £400 research allowance, and access to study space.

Prospective PhD applicants should have completed the equivalent of Macquarie University’s Master of Research (MRes) degree, MPhil or other 2 year Masters degree with a major research component with excellent results. Refer to the HDR Entry Criteria for more information about this. To be eligible for a PhD scholarship applicants would be expected to have a record of excellent academic performance, especially in the research Masters degree, and additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity, awards and/or prizes in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the HDR Scholarship Requirements for more information about this.

Writing a PhD Application

This period of the year is a busy one for many, with the deadline for applications for PhD studentships, 9 January 2015, drawing ever closer. Dr James Palmer‘s tips on writing a PhD proposal thus provide some timely advice on how best to navigate this process. First published on, and reproduced here with kind permission.

Applications for PhD positions are starting to come in thick and fast at the moment. Deadlines for AHRC funding is now so early that masters students have to start thinking about PhDs almost before they’ve settled into their first postgraduate degree. It is tough enough to imagine a book-length project, let alone to do so before you’ve done the research. Here, then, are some thoughts on what makes a good proposal.



1) An opening that immediately announces a clear topic. Don’t spend a paragraph sketching woolly context: get to the point in the first sentence. And preferably tell the reader why it matters.

2) Have clear research questions. Why not even bullet point them? It gives the impression that you are organised.

3) Be as specific as possible about the sources and what you can feasibly do with them. You don’t have to know all the sources in advance, of course, and it will vary from project to project. But an analysis of x-hundred charters preserved in place A/ documents pertaining to y in archive B/ these specific saints’ Lives/ these manuscripts in Munich/ etc is so much more compelling than vague promises that you will search for evidence for something.

4) Don’t be cagey about what has been written on the subject already, if anything has been. Again, vague statements about how no one has really worked on the subject don’t often sound true. Giving a decent historiographical context is an opportunity to show off that you know what you’re talking about and to demonstrate that there is a gap. Precision wins. Being clear about your methodology will help here too.

5) It does not hurt to have thought about the potential wider audience for the research and what you could do with it. Is there potential for collaboration with a museum, archive or library involved in your project? Are there public events you could be involved in to disseminate your work? The whole sector is starting to think in these terms, so it is good to get in the habit. It also helps to give perspective on the age-old question which destroys many medieval history research projects: so what?

6) Have a work plan! Some people like to break things down into speculative chapters and then divide the three years between them. A cagier but no less effective strategy might be to identify some case studies for a few months at a time, and to specify when you intend to undertake that big research trip to your favourite archive, library or whatever. This is again where you can sell your project as something that is feasible within the time frame.

CC BY 2.0

CC BY 2.0

7) Ask yourself again: do you really want to do this? Are you interested enough in the project to live and breath it for three years? Always having had a passion for history will only get you so far. It does somehow show if you are going through the motions. Also asking your self this will help you to determine whether the project is really for you. Don’t really fancy six months in Paris where the research material is? Choose something else. (And as a side note: do be serious about debt. If you are ‘chasing the dream’ unfunded, you might want to do some research into work conditions and the employment market…).

8) If you’ve passed (7) then spend some time writing out why you are the person to undertake the project, what skills you bring to the game, and – and most people forget this – why your chosen supervisor or supervision team is perfect for you and the project.

Most of the advice boils down to this: be clear and be precise! Particularly where funding is concerned. If money is involved, someone will be asking “why should I fund this project over any other?” Sounding a bit clever will not win the day. Make the case that there is real and (relatively) necessary work to be done… and that you are the person to do it.

Other people will give different advice. And you could follow what I suggest and get nowhere. There are no sure things and there’s always more than one way to approach something. But learning to make the case will never hurt.

St Andrews PhD Studentships in History

Photo attr. Daniel Peckham, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Photo attr. Daniel Peckham, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The School of History at the University of St Andrews welcomes applications for PhD studentships funded by the AHRC (through the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities), by the School and University, and by the Strathmartine Trust. The deadline for applications is 9 January 2015.

Studentships will be distributed on a competitive basis, based on academic quality. The application materials are the same as those used to apply to the PhD programme. Full details of the application process can be found here.

Postgraduate Study at St Andrews:

As one of the country’s leading centres for historical research the School of History provides an active and cohesive academic setting for postgraduate study. The School brings together over fifty members of staff – several of them leading, internationally recognised authorities – working in many different fields of History and is also home to a number of institutes, research centres, projects and research groups. We have a large and diverse community of over 130 postgraduates, pursuing taught and research degrees. We offer significant support to our postgraduates through training opportunities, and our generous research allowances.

You can learn more about life as a postgraduate at St Andrews by reading posts in the ‘Postgraduate’ category on our blog, including a current PhD student’s thoughts on ‘Why write a PhD at St Andrews’.


The Strathmartine Trust Scottish History Studentship (worth £20,000, paid over 3 years) is for study in any aspect of Scottish History or the history of the Scots.

AHRC studentships have nationality and residency restrictions (see AHRC regulations). Non-EU applicants are normally ineligible (depending on residence); EU applicants are normally eligible only for fees (unless they meet specific residency requirements); UK applicants are eligible for fees and maintenance.

The School and University studentships have no eligibility requirements.

Making the First Scientific Journal

A group of researchers in the School of History at St Andrews are currently enagaged in investigating the history of the Philosophical Transacations. Here, Dr Julie McDougall-Waters reports on an exhibition based on their work which has recently opened at the Royal Society in London. This piece first appeared on the Royal Society’s history of science blog, ‘The Repository’, and is reproduced with kind permission.

On Tuesday 2nd December an exhibition opened at the Royal Society to celebrate the earliest and longest-running scientific journal in the world. Entitled ‘The Philosophical Transactions: 350 years of Publishing at the Royal Society (1665-2015)’, the display highlights episodes in the history of the Philosophical Transactions, from its beginnings in 1665 when the ‘journal’ was yet to be defined as a genre of scientific publishing, to its continued production in today’s electronic age. Aptly, the Society also celebrated its own anniversary the day before, with Fellows gathering together to mark the foundation of the Society on 28 November 1660.

Front covers of the Philosophical Transactions from 1665 and 2010.

Front covers of the Philosophical Transactions from 1665 and 2010.

The exhibition has been curated by researchers working on a project based at the University of St Andrews, ‘Publishing the Philosophical Transactions: the economic, social and cultural history of a learned journal, 1665-2015’, and by staff at the Royal Society. It marks the start of a series of events at the Society to celebrate the journal turning 350 on 6 March 2015; other activities will include a conference on the history of science periodical publishing – ‘Publish or Perish? The past, present and future of the scientific journal’  – to be held in March 2015, and a special issue of the Society’s history of science journal, Notes and Records, which will include selected papers from the conference.

Other noteworthy aspects of the 350th year of the Transactions are special issues of the Philosophical Transactions with comments from working scientists on the impact of some of the most important papers published in the journal throughout its existence. One highlight will be James Clerk Maxwell’s 1865 work on electromagnetism, in which he first proposed that light is an electromagnetic wave – the manuscript of this paper is featured in the exhibition. The Society is also producing several short films that take a more sidelong look at the history of the journal, focusing on papers whose importance might not have been recognised in their own time but which gave rise to questions or to new fields of enquiry that are still critical today.

Portrait of Henry Oldenburg, 1668, by Jan van Cleve © The Royal Society.

Portrait of Henry Oldenburg, 1668, by Jan van Cleve © The Royal Society.

The exhibition begins with the early history of the Transactions, framed by the activities of Henry Oldenburg, polyglot and secretary to the Royal Society from 1663 to 1677, who spent a brief period in the Tower of London in 1667 for suspected treason, as a result of his receipt and translation of foreign correspondence during the Anglo-Dutch War. It was Oldenburg’s skill as translator, however, and his connections to men of science across Europe that provided the content for his nascent journal, the Transactions, in 1665, and created a form of print whose flexibility, diversity of content and speed of transmission immediately captured the imagination of seventeenth century ‘natural philosophers’ and sparked a revolution in science communication. The Transactions continued to be a prestigious publication into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and was particularly important as practitioners of science became increasingly eager in the nineteenth century to see their discoveries published rapidly and to secure the credit for their inventions.

In addition to documenting the notable successes of the journal, the exhibition also brings to light its survival in the face of criticism in the eighteenth century from a disenfranchised few outside the Society, and reform in the nineteenth century as a result of unrest among the Fellowship. Interwoven with the social, political and cultural circumstances of the journal’s development are the stories of men and women of science who sought publication in the journal. Their experiences reveal how the editorial and reviewing processes evolved from Oldenburg’s sole editorial power, through decision-making by committee, to the use of written referees’ reports and discipline-based advisory editors. For example, the display tells how Charles Darwin faced criticism in 1839 from his referee, Adam Sedgwick, for the unnecessary wordiness in his paper on the parallel roads of Glen Roy; the paper was passed by the Council of the Society and was in fact the only paper Darwin ever published in the Transactions (though he later acted as a referee). The exhibition raises the question of how peer review as we know it today developed from the reviewing practices in place in science periodicals in the nineteenth century.

The exhibition also shows how the Transactions’ contribution to scientific communication long ran at a loss. It was only in the late 1940s that the journal’s income consistently exceeded expenditure. The Society’s Publishing section, which now hosts ten journals in total, has grown to include academic editors, commissioning editors and other professional members of a production team of twenty. While today the journal is delivered largely electronically, the display recalls the manual printing techniques on which the journal relied in the pre-electronic age.

The exhibition ultimately discusses how the Royal Society and its Publishing division, including Philosophical Transactions, continue to be at the forefront of debates about science publishing in an ongoing communication and information revolution. It will run until June 2015.

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

By Sandy Stevenson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

By Sandy Stevenson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The School of History welcomes applications for the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship scheme. Interested applicants should first contact the appropriate academic colleague(s) in the School to discuss their plans and the application process. Details of the scheme and application forms are available on the Leverhulme website. Applications selected by the School will be forwarded to the internal University selection process, details of which are available on the University’s research blog.

Applications for History must be submitted to by 5pm on 19th January 2014. (Please note that this date supersedes the general deadline on the University website).

British Archaeological Awards for Coastal Heritage Project

The St Andrews School of History is delighted to hear that SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) has won two of five awards at the biennial British Archaeological Awards 2014. The Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project won the category of Best Community Archaeology Project, and the ShoreUPDATE app was rewarded with the category of Best Innovation. The ShoreDig project at Wemyss Caves was also Highly Commended in the Best Presentation of Archaeology Category.

A sample of the SCAPE map of sites at risk.

A sample of the SCAPE map of sites at risk.

SCAPE works towards researching and conserving the archaeology of the Scottish coast, with a special interest in areas threatened by coastal erosion. Its projects seek to take advantage of local knowledge and community involvement by providing members of the public with the means and opportunities to become involved in cataloguing sites of archaeological and conservational significance. The new ShoreUPDATE app allows anyone with a smart phone or other mobile device to access an interactive map of at-risk sites and to submit reports on their current condition, and even to suggest new sites for consideration.

The University of St Andrews has contributed funding towards the Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project, and Tom Dawson, a Research Fellow in the St Andrews School of History, manages the activities of SCAPE. Tom attended the British Archaeological Awards ceremony, hosted in the British Museum, to accept the awards on behalf of the SCAPE team.

More information on the awards, and how to get involved with the community projects, can be found on the Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk website.

Mediaeval St Andrews App Wins Further Funding

Mediaeval AppThe Mediaeval St Andrews App project team, led by Computer Scientist Dr Alan Miller, has been awarded a University Teaching Development Award to help fund a key development phase.

Smart phones and tablets are becoming ubiquitous and have the functionality to add a new dimension to learning. They typically contain GPS, a high resolution screen and connect to the Internet. The Mediaeval St Andrews App will enable the synthesis of scene and discourse to provide a new tool for teaching and learning. It will enable learners to concurrently explore the physicality of St Andrews and access location specific research.

For each point of interest on the trail text, images, audio and video will combine with the physicality of the location to provide an engaging learning experience. There will also be links to online digital resources, which index relevant scholarly research.

This project will draw upon research being undertaken in the schools of HistoryArt Historyand Classics. It will also make accessible early work by the project team on images and video of reconstructions of St Andrews Cathedral, St Andrews Castle and St Salvator’s Chapel. The National Library of Scotland has kindly granted permission to make use of the Geddy map of St Andrews, the earliest holistic depiction of town.

The App will be freely available to students and to the general public.

Re-posted with generous permission from the Mediaeval St Andrews blog.