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Tan See Bock PhD Studentship FAC20/ADSS/ARTS/TYTHACOTT

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, June 01, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Northumbria University Gallery holds the Woon Collection of Asian Art, which includes a significant number of rare ancient Chinese bronzes including a standing and a seated Acuoye Guanyin both from the late Nanzhao Kingdom (AD 653-902) and an Amitabha Buddha and a Vairocana Buddha, both seated in Dhyanasana pose, from the Dali Kingdom (AD 937-1253). The project would further our understanding of the histories, iconographies, collecting and display of ancient Chinese bronzes in the Woon Collection and other collections around the world, as well as their composition and methods of manufacture. The successful PhD student would help shape our understanding of the best approaches to the care, interpretation and exhibition of ancient Chinese bronzes in museum collections and the influences on the technology used. Although there is research on the history of early Chinese bronzes from this area, there is little from the technological perspective.

Louise Tythacott is the Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art at Northumbria University. Her research focuses on the collecting and display of Chinese and Buddhist art in museums. She was previously Professor of Curating and Museology of Asian Art at SOAS and Curator of Asian collections at National Museums Liverpool.

Jean Brown is the Director of the University Art Collection and is an experienced practicing conservator who has developed and delivered an MA in Preventive Conservation for over 14 years. She worked at the British Museum and the National Museum of Wales before joining Northumbria University where she is an Associate Professor.

Kate Nicholson is a scientist who has supervised the development of portable spectroscopic techniques and instrumentation for non-invasive analysis in situ of objects of historical and artistic interest.

Richard Mulholland is a Research Fellow at Northumbria University.

• Direct access to a small, but significant collection of Chinese bronzes
• Experienced academics and well-equipped science and conservation laboratories including: XRF, X Ray, FTIR, GCMS, Scanning Electron Microscope/EDX etc.
• Access to portable analytical equipment to study ancient Chinese bronzes in other UK collections.
• A close relationship with the Woon family in Singapore, providing access to networks across Asia.
• A unique relationship with the V&A through John Clarke, Curator of South and Southeast Asian collections and Visiting Professor at Northumbria University, providing support for the supervisory team.

Avenues that might be explored, amongst others, include:
• Interpretations of the iconographies of the bronzes
• Analysis of the histories of collecting and display
• Approaches to the care and interpretation of ancient bronzes from the Yunnan province and South West China in museum collections
• The material and structural characteristics of ancient Chinese bronzes from the Yunnan province and South West China
• A comparison of archaeological and reagent induced patinas
• Knowledge exchange in casting techniques etc. via trade routes

The Principal Supervisor is Louise Tythacott

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. a Master’s degree (preference for Merit or above) in Art History, Archaeology, Museum Studies, Chinese Studies, Conservation, Science, Technical Art History; a 2:1 degree (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); 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.

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. FAC20/ADSS/ARTS/TYTHACOTT) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1st June 2020

Start Date: 1st October 2020

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.

For informal enquiries please contact Louise Tythacott ()

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full fees.


Brown A.J.E., CONSERVATION NOW, Journal of the Institute of Conservation, Vol 40 – issue 2 pp 133 – 151, 2017

Brown A. Jean E., Mulholland R., The Watermark Archive - Recording Watermarks by Radiography and other means for the creation of a Digital Watermarks Database, (2002), IIC 19th Triennial Congress – Baltimore

Tythacott, L. The Lives of Chinese Objects: Buddhism, Imperialism and Display. Berghahn (2011)

Tythacott, L. 'Curating the Sacred: Exhibiting Buddhism at World Museum Liverpool', Buddhist Studies Review, (Dec 2017) 34, 1, pp 115-133.

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