Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awards three fully-funded PhD studentships per year to support collaborative research projects rooted in the collections, resources and expertise of the V&A family of art, design and performance museums.

Since 2014, the V&A has been a member of the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) consortium. Each studentship is jointly supervised by specialists from the V&A and academics at UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The HEI administers the studentship, receiving funds from the AHRC for fees and maintenance. The museum provides additional financial support to the student towards travel and related project costs. The CDP programme helps us to support a new generation of scholars working between the academic and heritage sectors, and we are proud to host this thriving postgraduate community.

For the fourth round of the CDP scheme (CDP4), awarded in 2023, we will offer studentships across our whole family of sites (V&A South Kensington, V&A East Storehouse and Museum, Young V&A, V&A Wedgwood and V&A Dundee) under the name the V&A Museum Group (VAMG).

CDP applications to the VAMG should come from members of museum staff and an academic from a UK HEI. The VAMG runs a two-stage application process:

  • Stage 1: Initial expression of interest
  • Stage 2: Full project proposal

Further details on the CDP schemes are available from the AHRC and CDP Consortium websites.

Call for expressions of interest

The VAMG is now accepting expressions of interest (EoI) for the development of Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentships (for students to commence in Autumn 2024).

Expressions of interest are sought from scholars at UK HEIs wishing to develop CDP studentship projects with the VAMG that are of a high quality, appropriate for collaborative study at doctoral level, and relevant to AHRC subject areas and VAMG research priorities.

Due to the ongoing major move of museum collections from Blythe House in Olympia to V&A East Storehouse, in Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the VAMG is unfortunately not currently able to develop CDP proposals related to the following collections: Asia, Theatre and Performance, Fashion, Textiles or Furniture. V&A East Storehouse will open in 2025. We will accept applications for CDP studentships relating to these areas of the collection from Summer 2024 onwards.

For the 2023 – 2024 cycle, the VAMG is particularly keen to encourage applications that align with the following priorities (broadly, these relate to modes of study and theoretical lenses) and/or research themes (broadly these relate to subjects and collections). Applications in these areas are welcome from a range of disciplines, including conservation practice and heritage science.

Cross-cutting priorities:

  • Practice-based research in all areas of our museums (for example, in curatorship, conservation, learning and exhibition-making). The VAMG understands practice-based research to mean a project where researchers' creative practice and methods form a key method of enquiry and constitute a substantial output of the research activity.
  • Art, design and performance research-led practice responding to VAMG's collections
  • Pedagogies for museum-based learning, especially play-centred and embodied learning
  • Art, science and sustainability, including environmental histories and research which leads to new sustainable practices and materials
  • Progressive histories of collecting that interrogate the VAMG's collections in relation to colonial histories and legacies, challenge traditional canons and contribute to programming across our sites
  • Design explorations, drawing on V&A Dundee's continuing and future focus on museums as agents and catalysts of change and conveners of influence in addressing 21st century design challenges

Research themes:

  • 19th-century histories of global art, design and culture – drawing on the collections amassed by the V&A as it developed as a new kind of museum from the 1850s onwards and contributing to future international 19th-century displays at South Kensington, as well as informing new narratives of Scottish design and manufacturing history at V&A Dundee
  • Archives and library special collections – drawing on the fertile ground for archive-led research and collaboration created by the recent move of the V&A's archives and National Art Library to the V&A Research Institute (VARI)
  • Histories and cultures of photography – drawing on the vast potential of the under-researched Royal Photographic Society collections, archives and library, and contributing to Photography Centre programming at South Kensington
  • Ceramics histories of design, making and industrial labour – drawing on the unparalleled archives and objects of the V&A Wedgwood Collection, as well as the V&A's wider European and Asian ceramic collections
  • Design and healthcare – drawing on the recent and continuing focus of V&A Dundee and contributing to innovation in the creative industries

Studentship projects must be jointly proposed by a member of staff within the VAMG and a colleague from a UK HEI (please see FAQs for more details). Students cannot submit proposals for projects.

Furthermore, in line with AHRC guidance, the VAMG does not support named students on CDP PhD projects. This is in order to increase accessibility of the VAMG's CDP award by ensuring equal access to the funding and opportunities these studentships afford.

Please refer to the following guidance when preparing your application:

Please address any enquiries relating to the V&A's CDP scheme to:

Information for prospective PhD students

Studentships at the VAMG are advertised on the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership consortium webpage between January and October each year, to start in the forthcoming academic year. Please check the Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships page during this time period for details.