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AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) studentship - Radical Mudlarking? Reimagining the History of London as a Global City on the Thames Foreshore

   School of Geography

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  Prof A Owens, Dr Edward Legon  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project will be co-supervised by Professor Alastair Owens and Dr Ed Legon (at Queen Mary) and Dr Claire Harris and Ruth Taylor (at Museum of London Archaeology, MOLA) and the student will be expected to spend time at both Queen Mary and MOLA as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.

Mudlarking on the foreshore of the Thames has emerged as one the most popular and accessible forms of community-led public archaeology in the UK. While mudlarking has received notoriety in the last decade, especially via social media and TV, it possesses a much longer history. The motivations of mudlarks have shifted over time from the reuse and exchange value of found objects to the historical significance of such finds for understanding the capital’s development. It has become an activity around which a network of practitioners has formed – a community of enthusiasts and experts with its own culture.

Despite the popularity of mudlarking it remains underexplored by scholars. This PhD will interrogate the reasons for its popularity, the socio-cultural and historical contexts of its development, and the ways in which it facilitates experiences of archaeological discovery and historical meaning-making. It will also address the role of organisations like MOLA in using mudlarking to enable new, global histories of London’s past, including those which have the potential to challenge linear – often exclusive – perspectives via the elucidation of historical experiences of the capital’s marginalised communities.

Research questions include:

  • Who mudlarks? Why do people go larking?
  • What are the wider socio-cultural and historical contexts which help to explain the popularity of mudlarking?
  • How do mudlarks make sense of the objects they find?
  • How do they begin to develop historical narratives about the objects they discover and, in particular, how do they seek to connect them to the history of the city?
  • How might organisations like MOLA, through initiatives such as the Thames Discovery Programme, engage with the mudlarking communities and use their finds to stimulate new understandings of the city’s history? Can such objects be used to point to some of London’s diverse and global heritages and to questions of historical injustice?


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. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area.

Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include: Archaeology, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, History, Heritage Studies, Human Geography.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the heritage sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both the University and Museum of London Archaeology.

All applicants must meet UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Scholarship value

The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home UKRI rate for PhD degrees. The UKRI Fee Level for 2022/23 is £4,596.

This studentship is open to both Home and International applicants. If you are applying as an International fee-paying candidate and are awarded the studentship, you will need to ensure that you are able to fund the difference between UK and International fees.

The award pays full maintenance for all students both home and international students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2022/23 is £16,062 (this typically increases by inflation each year), plus London weighting of £2000/year and an additional CDP maintenance payment of £550/year.

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 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. 

How to apply

Candidates wishing to be considered for this award must apply for a PhD place at the Queen Mary University of London by 6 June 2022, 17:00 BST.

The application process will require you to provide a statement explaining your interest in the project and to outline relevant skills, insights or expertise you would bring to the research from your previous study, professional experience, or interests. You should also outline which aspects of the project particularly interest you and indicate how you might approach the research.

Apply here: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/applying-for-a-phd/

Please select Geography > PhD Full-time Geography-Semester 1 (September Start) or PhD Part-time Geography-Semester 1 (September Start) and follow the instructions.

We anticipate holding interviews during the week commencing 20 June 2022.

For more information, or an informal discussion, please contact Prof Alastair Owens ([Email Address Removed])

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