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  A study of enamels: conservation and history of global transfer of technology (A PhD studentship in collaboration with the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum).

   School of Science & Technology

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  Prof H Liang  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project is a collaboration between Imaging and Sensing for Archaeology, Art history and Conservation (ISAAC) Lab at Nottingham Trent University, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museums have a broad range of enamelled objects from around the world. Enamels are thin layers of coloured glass bound to a substrate. They have been traded around the world for centuries. While various cultures have developed their own enamelling technology throughout history, there are also exchanges in the technology across geographic locations from East Asia to Europe.

The deterioration of enamels is also very complex and poorly understood. Recent research has shown that there is a very good correlation between the level of hydration of the glass surface and structural damage within enamels, making it possible to rapidly assess the level of deterioration of enamels using hyperspectral imaging. Enamels from different manufacturing centres will be characterised using a suite of complementary non-invasive imaging and spectroscopic modalities from optical coherence tomography, hyperspectral imaging, X-ray fluorescence mapping to Raman spectroscopy. This will allow an understanding of the effects of material composition, manufacturing techniques and storage environment on the deterioration of enamels, as well as a study of the global link between the different manufacturing centres through a comparison of material composition and manufacturing techniques of enamels in the early modern period.

The student will spend some time collecting data at the two museums in London using the ISAAC Mobile Lab with the support of staff from the museums and ISAAC Lab. A large number of objects will be studied, and machine learning techniques will be employed to analyse the data. The student will also gain interdisciplinary research skills.

Both Museums and the University will provide additional opportunities for training and career development including the opportunity to present research results at international conferences. There will also be opportunity for the student to spend a period of time at an overseas organisation.

To find out more on what we do at the Imaging and Sensing for Archaeology, Art history and Conservation (ISAAC) Lab, please check our website:

Recent publications on related topics from ISAAC Lab can be found on 

Entry requirements

Applicants must have a good first degree (usually a minimum 2:1 Bachelor’s degree) or a Master’s degree (or other equivalent experience) in physics, archaeological science, conservation science, heritage science, materials science, chemistry or a related physical sciences discipline. They should be highly motivated individuals with a keen interest in art conservation, history, or archaeology.

The minimum English language proficiency requirement for candidates who have not undertaken a higher degree at a UK HE institution is IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in all skills).

International applicants are welcome.

How to apply

For a step-by-step guide and to make an application, please visit our how to apply page.

Chemistry (6) Computer Science (8) History & Archaeology (19) Materials Science (24) Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

Internally funded from central budget (same basis as standard School studentships) - Home fees plus stipend at three years.
The successful candidate will be paid a stipend to cover living costs in line with the national minimum, which for 2021/22 is £15,609 per year tax free. The award will also cover the full-time home student tuition fee of £4,500 per year for all students, that is both home and international students. International student fee will only be waived for an exceptional international student. Funding will include research expenses and research training support.

Where will I study?