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The Darlington PhD studentship: Objects, culture, and memory: How can museum-based activities improve the lives of people with dementia?, Medicine – PhD (Funded)(2679)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Iain Lang
    Dr N Orr
    Dr Mark Pearson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS) is seeking to attract PhD candidates of outstanding ability to join their exciting and rapidly expanding programme of internationally rated research.

There is growing interest in providing support to people with dementia in ways that are removed from standard health- or social-care interventions. Some projects of this type are provided by organisations whose primary focus relates to culture, heritage, or the arts, such museums, libraries, and galleries. However, the claimed and actual benefits of such projects are difficult to assess.

This PhD will examine how museums engage people with dementia and their carers. The work will centre on an established project based in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter called "Living Each Season". In this project, the way people engage with the objects they encounter in the museum is different from that associated with "reminiscence therapy", in which older people are encouraged to look at and reminisce about items that may relate to their memories from earlier in life. Instead, Living Each Season, which is modelled on a groundbreaking project at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, involves exposing people to objects from across the museum’s collections that are of widely varying historical, geographical, and cultural/natural provenances. The observations of the staff running the project are that people who attend get a lot out of it and informal feedback from participants is very positive but, in common with similar projects elsewhere, no formal evaluation has been conducted.

The aim of this PhD is to understand what happens when people with dementia and others participate in such projects: what the outcomes are and what brings about those outcomes. Although the primary research site will be the RAMM, the student undertaking the project will be encouraged to connect to other projects as potential comparators.

The approach taken will be a realist one: that is, our focus will be on asking "what works for whom in what circumstances?" rather than simply "does it work?" – and establishing what “working” means for different people involved in the work will be part of the research. In relation to the experiences of people with dementia and their carers in a museum (or similar cultural) context we will be interested in exploring and theorising about what leads to positive outcomes for those involved and considering the processes and contextual factors that lead to these.

The PhD will use ethnographic methods and the student will spend time as a participant-observer and support the running of the project. Data sources will include, but are not limited to, observation of visits by people with dementia and their carers to the museum; interviews with staff, volunteers, people with dementia, and carers; and documentary analysis of feedback forms and internal documentation related to the project. The nature of this project means that creative or innovative ways of gathering data, engaging stakeholders, and disseminating results will be valuable.

This project will enable us to understand and share the factors related to "what works" in museums and similar settings and to produce generalisable theory about how such projects can improve quality of life in people with dementia and their carers.
For further details about the project or an informal discussion please contact Iain Lang, [Email Address Removed] or 01392 726087.

Academic Supervisors:
Dr Iain Lang (Director of Studies), Senior Lecturer, UEMS: http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/people/profile/index.php?web_id=Iain_Lang

Dr Noreen Orr, Research Fellow, UEMS: http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/people/profile/index.php?web_id=Noreen_Orr

Dr Mark Pearson, Senior Research Fellow in Implementation Science, UEMS: http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/people/profile/index.php?web_id=Mark_Pearson

Entry requirements:
Applicants should be highly motivated and have, or expect to obtain, either a first or upper-second class BSc (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. International applicants must also have IELTS [International English Language Testing System] score of 7 and above (or equivalent qualification).

How to apply:

Please apply via the ‘Apply Online’ button and upload the following documents:

• CV

• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project.

• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)

• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English (see entry requirements http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/)

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] Project specific queries should be directed to the lead supervisor.

We regret that only candidates shortlisted for interview will be contacted.

Funding Notes

The studentship will be fully-funded for UK/EU students, including a stipend of £14,553 per annum (based on the full-time 17/18 rate). Tuition fees will be paid at the UK/EU rate. Candidates from countries outside the European Union will be liable for the difference between 'home student fees' and 'international student fees' which will be £14,650 in 2017/18 but is likely to increase slightly each year. Non-EU students who wish to be considered must confirm their ability to pay the international portion of the fee. If selected, financial assurances will be required.

How good is research at University of Exeter in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.85

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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