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AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) studentship – Sex, Secrecy and Obscene Literature in Britain, 1857-1959

   School of History

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  Dr C Jones, Ms Vicky Iglikowski-Broad  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Claire L. Jones and Ms Vicky Iglikowski-Broad and the student will be expected to spend time at both the University of Kent and The National Archives. They will also become part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK, with access to CDP Cohort Development events.

Under Britain’s nineteenth and twentieth century censorship laws, printed material deemed too sexually explicit was outlawed. Yet, while the state’s systems of policing and prosecution aimed to uphold these laws, national and international networks of producers, distributors and readerships flourished, discreetly circulating and consuming this illicit material. Few of these networks have been examined to date, but through its focus on forms of illicit print that exist within The National Archive’s extensive collections, this project will demonstrate their significance in shaping sexual knowledge and thus, provide a new important perspective on sex in modern Britain and beyond.

Research questions include:

  1. What forms of illicit print did readers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries access and how did they access them?
  2. What networks of producers and distributors enabled readers to access this material?
  3. What methods did these producers and distributors use to subvert the law, enabling access?
  4. To what extent did the law inhibit producers, distributors and readers from circulating illicit material?


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 and minority ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area.

Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Master’s level qualification or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include: History, Archives, Material Culture, Sociology, Gender and Sexuality Studies, English Literature.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the archives 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 The National Archives.

All applicants must meet the UKRI terms and conditions for funding

Scholarship value

The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) full-time home rate for PhD degrees. The UKRI Indicative Fee Level for 2021/22 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 2021/22 is £16,062, plus an allowance of £1000/year and a CDP maintenance payment of £550/year.

The student is eligible to receive an additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of The National Archives worth up to £1000 per year for 3.75 years (45 months).

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.

The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

How to apply

Candidates wishing to be considered for this award must apply for a PhD place at the University of Kent by 20 May 2022, 17:00 BST.

You must indicate your interest in this award when writing your personal statement by explaining how you might approach the project and how your academic background and experience fits the criteria.

Apply here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/89/history

We expect interviews to take place online at the end of May or beginning of June 2022.

For more information, please contact Dr Claire L. Jones ([Email Address Removed]) and Vicky Iglikowski-Broad ([Email Address Removed]).

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