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Exploring the contribution of the museum and cultural sector to the health and wellbeing of older people in Tyne and Wear (RDF23/HLS/SWECW/BRADLEY)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr Gemma Bradley, Dr Tracy Collins  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This studentship provides an exciting opportunity to explore the contribution of the museum and cultural sector to health and wellbeing of older people in Tyne and Wear.

Links between arts, health and wellbeing are increasingly recognised (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, 2017). With older people being vulnerable to risks such as loneliness, social isolation, physical decline and financial insecurity, the contribution museums make for this group is significant. Examples highlight the links between older people accessing museum programmes and positive wellbeing outcomes, and such programmes are increasingly being recognised as part of the social prescribing agenda to recommend non-clinical activities for a range of wellbeing needs (Thompson et al, 2020).

Published evaluations tend to evaluate older people being referred to targeted activity programmes over a set number of weeks. But increasingly museums are central to a wider health and wellbeing offer such as the universal offer to any older person who chooses to access a building or exhibition; contributing to warm spaces to support people with the cost of heating; facilitating volunteering opportunities for older people, and using contact with older people to share information and advice. In this way, museums and the cultural sector can be integral to place-based systems of care, where organisations pool and manage resources to improve health and reduce inequalities for populations they serve (The Kings Fund, 2015). Against a backdrop of worsening health inequalities in the North-East of England, this project aims to explore how museums can be part of integrated health and care approaches in this region.

Benefiting from an existing strong partnership with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM), and utilising participatory methods which involve older people and TWAM partners, this PhD study will firstly examine and map the links between TWAM and the health and wellbeing of older people in relation to identified communities and environments. The project will then utilise a range of methods to explore research questions such as why people are accessing/not accessing spaces and projects; what inclusive communication methods can help to reach a broad range of older people (including those traditionally hard to reach and under-represented) and what are the mechanisms which may translate one-off interactions in to sustained engagement. A further focus will be to explore evaluation methods which support engagement with a range of stakeholders (Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Authorities among others) but also evaluate short-term and longer-term outcomes that are meaningful to older people.

Such areas of focus – co-production with partners, evaluations which are meaningful to people and communities, and focussing on longer-term outcomes are all highlighted as research priorities (Bradley & Scott, 2020; Cooper et al, 2022). And research which prioritises wellness and social growth of our regional population, integrated health and care and real-world partnerships aligns with research commitments of Northumbria University.

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by Dr Gemma Bradley. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed]. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions. 

Funding Information

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2022/23 full-time study this is £17,668 per year) and full tuition fees. Studentships are also available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £10,600 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities).  

Please also see further advice below of additional costs that may apply to international applicants.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.  Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence, and be aware of the following additional costs that may be incurred, as these are not covered by the studentship.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application
  • If you need to apply for a Student Visa to enter the UK, please refer to the information on https://www.gov.uk/student-visa. It is important that you read this information very carefully as it is your responsibility to ensure that you hold the correct funds required for your visa application otherwise your visa may be refused.
  • Check what COVID-19 tests you need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19
  • Costs associated with English Language requirements which may be required for students not having completed a first degree in English, will not be borne by the university. Please see individual adverts for further details of the English Language requirements for the university you are applying to.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and the advert reference (e.g. RDF23/…).

Deadline for applications: 27 January 2023

Start date of course: 1 October 2023 tbc


All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (2017) ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing’. Available online: Creative_Health_Inquiry_Report_2017_-_Second_Edition.pdf
Bradley, G. & Scott, J. (2021). Social Prescribing Nomenclature, Occupational Therapy and the Theory of Institutional Work: Creating, Maintaining and Disrupting Medical Dominance. Occupational Therapy In Health Care. DOI: 10.1080/07380577.2021.1926046
Cooper, M., Avery, L., Scott, J., Ashley, K., Jordan, C., Errington, L & Flynn, D. (2022). Effectiveness and active ingredients of social prescribing interventions targeting mental health: a systematic review. BMJ Open. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-060214
The Kings Fund (2015). Place-based systems of care: a way forward for the NHS in England. Available online: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/default/files/field/field_publication_file/Place-based-systems-of-care-Kings-Fund-Nov-2015_0.pdf
Thompson, J., Brown, Z., Baker, K., Naisby, J., Mitchell, S., Dodds, C., Storey, P., Tiplady, S. and Collins, T. (2020) Development of the ‘Museum Health and Social Care Service’ to promote the use of arts and cultural activities by health and social care professionals caring for older people, Educational Gerontology, DOI: 10.1080/03601277.2020.1770469

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