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Realising the potential of place-based arts/health interventions. (Ref: RDF22/HLS/SWECW/ROBSON)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr Ian Robson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This studentship provides an exciting opportunity to identify, engage with, and respond to the challenges of developing arts/health activity with communities that experience significant health inequalities. It will be of interest to candidates who are committed to participatory, inter-disciplinary enquiry and are excited by the prospect of informing the development of place-based (Dankwa-Mullan & Perez-Stable, 2016; Lhussier & Forster, 2019) arts/health interventions through the practical application of philosophical and artistic ideas.

Arts interventions are identified as having value and contributing to tackling health inequalities and addressing the wider social determinants of health (WHO, 2019;, DCMS, 2020; Hine, 2021). In principle, they can contribute to multidisciplinary interventions which may be best placed to promote health (Oliver & Cookson, 2000; White, 2010). In practice, there are opportunities to develop arts/health interventions in public programmes beyond mainstream NHS activity. These include programmes supporting the UK Government’s “Levelling Up” agenda, such as place-based regeneration schemes and investment in Family Hubs, and in wider health partnerships, such as Integrated Care Partnerships and efforts to develop Social Prescribing. In these agendas and more, Arts/Health approaches can contribute to engaging, holistic and innovative interventions, especially for marginalised populations living in the UK’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. However, local leaders, commissioners and practitioners implementing such agendas and programmes typically lack the means to characterise, define, document and engage with such work (Clift et al., 2009; Fancourt, 2017).

To define, explore and develop the contribution of place-based arts/health approaches, Northumbria University offers a unique studentship situated in the Cultural Workstream of Northumberland County Council’s Energising Blyth programme (

The successful candidate will be supported by academic staff from the Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing with specialist expertise in arts/culture/wellbeing interventions, multi-agency public partnerships, and mental health. They will also be supported to join a vibrant research community within the Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, as well as a place-based development worker network in the town of Blyth. This exciting research studentship will focus on identifying, exploring and developing the place-based arts/health paradigm of practice whilst situated in one such case. It will be embedded in, and add value to, existing local efforts to develop arts/health practice in the town of Blyth. It will focus on developing a practical and methodological understanding of how the arts can optimise the social, physical and mental determinants of wellbeing across all life stages.

Candidates should be familiar with, and passionate about applied visual arts practice, though will not be required to have their own visual arts practice or qualification. The successful candidate will be supported to engage in place-based arts, regeneration and health networks within the local authority, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, and in relevant community and resident networks as an integral part of their doctoral study. Specifically, they will be supported to develop creative forms of co-enquiry with artists, practitioners and residents as part of Energising Blyth’s Cultural Workstream, as it develops a landmark arts/health centre and associated programme of activity.

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.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

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. RDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Informal enquiries to Dr Ian Robson ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.
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