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AHRC CDP Studentship – A window onto the medieval world: illuminating the role of the English glass industry in glazing between AD 1100-1600

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  • Full or part time
    Prof C Jackson
    Dr S Paynter
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Sheffield and Historic England are pleased to announce the opportunity for a fully funded collaborative doctoral partnership student to examine the changing nature and fortunes of the British glass industry in the 12th to 16th centuries. The studentship will be supported under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships scheme, and aims to develop research skills whilst providing valuable experience of professional practice in the heritage sector.

This project will be jointly supervised by Professor Caroline Jackson (Archaeology, University of Sheffield) and Dr Sarah Paynter (Historic England), with support from Dr Rachel Tyson (glass scholar). The student will be enrolled at, and receive their PhD from the University of Sheffield, but will be expected to spend time at both Sheffield and Historic England (Portsmouth), as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK. 

The PhD project provides an exciting opportunity to develop an inter-disciplinary approach to medieval glass in order to understand the market for English and imported Continental glass during the 12th-16th centuries. The study will focus on unpublished assemblages of window glass from nationally significant sites held by Historic England. The student will gain experience in identifying and recording glass assemblages, formulating and answering topical research questions, working within a dynamic research team, disseminating their findings through outreach, conferences, and publications, and engaging with the public, academic, research and archaeological communities. The successful candidate will have access to the facilities at Historic England’s materials science laboratories and the Department of Archaeology at Sheffield University, as well as archaeological archives.  

Project Description-

The 12th-16th centuries was a period of rapid change for crafts and industries in England, greatly influenced by the exchange of ideas, materials and people with continental Europe. This period is fundamental to understanding the nascent English glass-making industry and its subsequent development, encompassing great advances in glazed architecture and new technologies introduced by continental glassworkers, but also the impact of the Black Death, Reformation, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Little is known about the use of English window glass predating the 16th century. By combining different archaeological research methodologies, including chemical analysis, this studentship provides the opportunity to identify patterns of use for English-made glass from the main manufacturing regions in the Weald and Staffordshire, thereby illuminating the fluctuating fortunes of the English glass industry over time relative to continental counterparts. The student will examine manufacturing methods, decorative schemes and condition, and explore documentary and archaeological evidence. The student will also be trained in experimental glassmaking and analysis techniques, such as portable XRF and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS).

The student will have the flexibility to develop strategies and methodologies to explore key questions, including:
• What proportion of English-made (regional) glass was used in high status English buildings, ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical?
• How does the pattern of supply change over time, and why (socio-economic/political events, building history, immigration and new technology, economies of production)?
• What factors might influence the glazier’s choice of glass (affiliations with the Continent, cost, colour, quality, proximity to markets or glass producing regions)?

Entry requirements

Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this research project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any subject that provides relevant skills, knowledge or experience, including Archaeology, Archaeological Science, STEM subject areas (Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Geology), History, Museum studies, and Conservation, along with a willingness to work across disciplines. We endeavour to be inclusive and flexible regarding applicants with caring obligations, disabilities and other considerations.
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The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis. We anticipate a start date of October 2020, dependent upon government and AHRC coronavirus advice.

For more information about this project please contact Prof Caroline Jackson ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Sarah Paynter ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

The AHRC award covers (i) a tax-free annual National Minimum Doctoral stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,285 for 2020-2021) plus a CDP maintenance payment of £600/year, (ii) an additional allowance of £1000/year from Historic England for travel and related expenses incurred in undertaking research, and (iii) tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home/EU UKRI rate for PhD degrees (Indicative Fee Level for 2020/21 is £4,407).

Information on eligibility can be found below


CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months, with funding, to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for costs the student might incur in taking up development opportunities.

Candidates must have a relevant connection with the UK to qualify for a full AHRC award, i.e. they must have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three-year period preceding the date of application, or have settled status in the UK. Non-EU candidates who have not been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years, or who were resident wholly or mainly for the purposes of education, are not eligible to apply.

Candidates from EU countries are eligible for full awards if they have been resident in the UK, for education or other purposes, for at least three years prior to the start of their programme. Candidates from EU countries who have not resided in the UK for three years prior to the start of their programme will normally be eligible for a fees-only award. See:

How to apply

Application is by covering letter, CV and online application form, and should be made through the University of Sheffield online application system.

Please consult the general guidance on how to apply for an Archaeology PhD place in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. Please note that two references must be submitted with the application, and take particular care to indicate in the application the broad areas of research that you are interested in and how you feel you could develop the project.

The closing date for applications is 29th May 2020. Interviews may take place by skype or similar (depending on the current coronavirus government advice).

The successful candidate will be eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events. All new CDP students will be expected to attend the CDP Student Launch Event on Monday 21st September 2020 at the British Museum.

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