University of Edinburgh Featured PhD Programmes
University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes
University of Glasgow Featured PhD Programmes

Museum factivism: critical heritage practice, knowledge intermediation and visitor engagement (SF19/MOS/WILSON)

Faculty of Business and Law

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
Dr S Wilson , Dr J Swords , Prof X Bian Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Museums are fantastic storytellers, bringing the past to life and engaging a wide range of audiences. This makes them uniquely placed to act as mediators between experts and publics. Museums face challenging times, however, as they deal with funding cuts and pressure to reach new audiences in new ways. Taking a position as disseminators and mediators of the latest academic research offers museums the opportunity to achieve their goals, but acting as intermediaries poses a series of challenges. This is especially the case in relation to subjects, which demand normative responses to potentially damaging topics such as environmental change. Traditionally museums have avoided explicitly taking stances on politically sensitive topics, although many critics have demonstrated how doing so, through claims of authority, have been political in their own right. Nonetheless, museum professionals are reconsidering their roles as providers of facts, to performing activist roles, which transform visitor experiences and encourage publics to act on, rather than receive knowledge.

This project seeks to examine the challenges and opportunities for museums as they become factivists and negotiate their (re)positioning between diverse actors including funders, government bodies, universities, publics and schools. Drawing on ideas from tourism and event management, heritage studies and human geography, this PhD will consider the adoptions of museum practices seeking to critically engage visitors in contemporary environmental and/or social justice issues.

This proposal developed in collaboration with Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, the PhD would play a key role in helping GNM achieve their goals whilst contributing to university goals through this partnership. Aside from helping to support its mission and strategic aims to facilitate powerful learning and to increase our social impact, participating in the PhD would specifically underpin development of innovative museum practices, whilst contributing to current academic debates within the sector.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• 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.

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

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

Mordue, T & Wilson, S (2018) Angler and fish relations in the UK: Ethics, aesthetics and material semiotics. In: Wild Animals and Leisure: Rights and Wellbeing. Taylor & Francis, pp. 165-180.

Swords, Jon (2018) Interpenetration and intermediation of crowd-patronage platforms. Information Communication & Society. (In Press)

Swords, J. (2017) "Crowd-patronage – Intermediaries, Geographies, and Relationships in Patronage Networks." Poetics, 64, 63-73.

Wilson, S. & Hannam, K. (2017). The Frictions of Slow Tourism Mobilities: Conceptualising campervan travel. Annuls of Tourism Research, 67, pp. 25-36.

Wilson, S, (2014).The Ethics and Fieldwork and Experimentation in Auto-Ethnographic Practice,( Eds), in Hannam, K, Mostanezhad. Moral Encounters in Tourism, (pp.221-232) Farnham: Ashgate.

Wilson, S and Obrador, P. (2014). The Nomadic Village: Communal creativity and political subversion in temporary settlements. In T. Rakić and J. Lester (Eds), Travel, Tourism and Art, (pp. 129-145). Farnham: Ashgate.
Search Suggestions

Search Suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.