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AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Studentship:The evaluation of museum engagement – User Centred Design principles and the development of audience-focussed interpretation

Project Description

The evaluation of museum engagement – User Centred Design principles and the development of audience-focussed interpretation
Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship based at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.


The studentship will focus on the translation of product evaluation technologies developed within the fields of manufacturing and engineering to the evaluation of exhibitions, displays and engagement activity within museums and the broader culture and heritage sector. It will examine both traditional ‘glass case’ displays and digital technologies.

To date, very little work has been undertaken on the determination of best practice for a number of emerging technologies that look set to revolutionise the way that museums present their objects and materials to museum visitors. Such technologies, including 3D printing, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), are becoming increasingly common in museums as a novel way of presenting content to visitors, but little research has, to date, taken a rigorous approach to analysing how these technologies influence the museum visitor experience, how welcome they are, and their impact on learning for visitors.

The project thus has the capacity to develop and share best practice in relation to the application of User Centred Design to museum displays and exhibitions, and to ascertain best practice within emerging visualisation technologies.
The studentship will be jointly supervised by Prof. Mark Williams at WMG, The University of Warwick and by Prof. M Paul Smith at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. This is a full-time studentship, which is fully funded for 3 years, with the option of up to 6 months additional funding for related professional development, will begin on 1 October 2019.

Desired Student Background:

Applicants may come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds (e.g. archaeology, anthropology, history, heritage studies, natural history, history and philosophy of science, museum studies, archive and information studies, geography, cultural studies), but it is expected that the successful applicant will be able to clearly explain the relationship between their existing training/experience and the topic of the studentship, and indicate how their present research interests relate to the proposed topic area. Students who are able to show evidence of experience working on museum collections or archive-related topics or fields (e.g. through previous work placements or work experience, etc.) would be particularly welcome to apply.

For full details of the studentship and how to apply please visit

Applications must be received no later than 5pm on Monday 29 April.

Informal enquiries relating to the project can be directed to Prof. Mark Williams at . For any other information please contact Dr Harriet Warburton, Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) Research and Impact Manager at

Funding Notes

Funding Source: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme

Funding Duration: 3.5 years

Stipend: Standard Research Council Maintenance Award : £15,009, plus an additional £550 per annum

Funding Eligibility: UK or European Economic Area (EEA)

Sponsor Company: The Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH)

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