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Communicating skyscape and the intangible


   School of Arts and Humanities

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  Dr Daniel Brown, Dr Katharina Massing, Prof Mike Robinson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Humans have continuously engaged with the sky and connected it to their life, termed skyscape. Within their societies the skyscape and its phenomena have defined time and are associated to architecture and migratory movement. Such heritage is preserved through myths and tales in an intangible format. Skyscape is linked to natural heritage and the night sky is an important part of a healthy ecosystem. If museums engaging with skyscape they could engage people with different time periods and create a bridge between scientific explorations, our shared heritage, art and creativity. However, communicating possible skyscape experiences now and in past societies is a challenge, since the objects of interest are patterns or objects such as the sun, moon and stars. The peoples themselves did not leave behind any written documentation or many detailed material artefacts. What further confuses matters, is that one is tempted to compare these with contemporary skyscape experiences of the engaging audience. This can lead to transferring pre-existing modern ideas and applying them to past peoples, which is inherently problematic.

Topics that range around questions of the most effective ways to communicate skyscape heritage to a wider society and empower sustainable behaviour might include but are not limited to:

  • Local and global approaches to skyscape communication
  • Interpreting skyscape through digital technology
  • Curating skyscapes
  • Communicating skyscape through creative engagement and storytelling
  • Experiencing wonder/curiosity through skyscape engagement
  • Light pollution and skyscape to communicate environmental changes
  • Sense of place and land- and skyscape
  • Digital engagement vs. real-life engagement
  • Dark sky/ skyscape heritage conservation
  • Communicating deep past and our past through skyscapes
  • Dark sky tourism

The project has an interdisciplinary supervisory team with expertise in skyscape and the development of astronomy related outreach activities as well as intangible cultural heritage interpretation and safeguarding. Members of the team are working on developing an AR skyscape experience app in collaboration with Creswell Crags. Methodological approaches might include surveys, interviews, focus group, observation, workshops, creative practice-based research, mapping and phenomenology. The director of studies already has contacts in relevant European (European Society for Astronomy in Culture) and international organisations (International Astronomical Union). He also has contacts enabling access to sites including the Carregal do Sal megalithic cluster (Portugal) and Kielder Dark Sky Observatory. The candidate would be expected to identify additional case studies. The digital immersive dimension can also be supported using a full dome portable planetarium (Emerald Planetariums) ran by the director of studies.

Supervisory Team

Director of Studies, Dr Daniel Brown

Second Supervisor, Dr Katharina Massing

Third Supervisor, Prof Mike Robinson

Entry requirements

For the eligibility criteria, please visit our how to apply page.

Fees and Funding

This project is fully-funded by the Cultural Heritage Research Peak Studentship Scheme.

How to apply

The application deadline is Friday 18 February 2022.

We are looking for motivated, engaged individuals to join our doctoral community. If you are interested in applying for one of the proposed Studentship projects, follow the apply button to access our application portal: please note, you will need to use the ‘NTU Doctoral Application 21/22’ form.

As you are applying for a project, your application should clearly outline which of the projects advertised you wish to apply in Summary of Proposed Research Topic. In Research Proposal and Personal Statement, please give up to 1,500 word statement of why you are interested in the project you are applying for and how you would engage with the research proposed. Think about the outline and research aims for the project and how you would approach them, as well as showing your understanding of the field and how the project will contribute to or challenge existing research. Your statement should focus on the framework of the project, to give the panel a clear idea of your understanding of the research project/topic. You will also need to include a bibliography or reference list for any work you cite.

Your skills, experience, motivation for pursuing doctoral study, and interest in the field should be included as part of your 500 word Previous Experience and Personal Statement.

Please note that only applications to the advertised projects will be accepted as part of this funding call; do not use your application to propose your own research project.

Please see our application guide for prospective candidates. You can also find a step-by-step guide and make an application on our how to apply page.


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