Museum Studies at Leicester


The School of Museum Studies is ranked within the top 3 in the UK for overall research quality in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) according to analysis by the Times Higher Education.  Find out more about our recent performance in REF2021

Since its establishment in 1966, Museum Studies at Leicester has played a leading role in the reinvention of museum theory and practice. Our research interrogates the social agency, cultural ecosystems and digital transformations of museums, heritage and art, and aims to impact lives, policies and practices.

Our research concentrates in four areas of focus:

  • The Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) is developing the ‘socially active museum’ as a research-led, socially impactful, inclusive institution. 
  • The Collective for Research into the Institutions of Art (CRÍA) interrogates institutions and practices constructing art and its histories. 
  • Museums & Technologies researches the ongoing digital transformation in museums and heritage institutions. The School is also deeply involved with the Institute for Digital Culture.
  • Heritage Lives critically explores the intersections of heritage and everyday lives, focusing particularly on contested contexts of forced displacement and rapid social change, poverty, indigeneity and inequality. 

You can browse our most recent research awards. Details of current and recent research projects led by School staff can be found on RCMG and CRIA pages as well as on individual staff pages.

PhD research

Our PhD research community currently includes around 80 students from over 20 countries, who are undertaking research within and across our focal research areas. You can see a list of ongoing PhD projects on our current PhDs page. You can also browse through completed PhD projects and thesis.

We offer robust training and expert supervision, enabling students to develop a global view of their field and an international network of peers and future collaborators.

We are a member of the AHRC Midlands 4 Cities (M4C) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), and the ESRC Midlands Graduate School (MGS) DTP in which we lead the Museum Studies pathway. Open student competitions for both these DTPs open in the fall, for commencement of the studentship the following year.

Our lively and energetic PhD student community organise an annual PhD Research Week, fortnightly research seminars with external and internal speakers, and a series of School-hosted international conferences and exhibitions. They also edit the Open Access academic journal Museological Review.

You can find out more about our PhD programmes and how to apply on our PhD pages.

Research seminars

Our research seminars are organized by PhD students and take place in the Collections Room (or on Microsoft Teams during the pandemic) and are streamed online for our part-time and distance learning students. You can see details of the current seminar series on our Events pages.

Early Career Research Fellowships

We welcome enquiries from researchers who are interested in applying for Research Fellowships with the School. In the past we have hosted Fellows funded through schemes including Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships, and ESRC Fellowships. If you are interested, please contact the member of staff who most closely reflects your area of interest (see People). You can also contact the School's Director of Research, Professor Giasemi Vavoula, to discuss funding schemes and application processes.

Visiting scholars

We welcome visiting scholars, including PhD students, academics and professionals, for visits of up to six months. Visiting PhD students are assigned an academic mentor who meets with them on a monthly basis and are welcomed into our thriving PhD research community with opportunities to participate in seminars and meet with staff. Visiting students are also allocated a University computer account and given access to the University library with its unrivalled collection of museum studies materials and related books.

Please direct your enquiries to Professor Giasemi Vavoula

Our Island Stories

As part of our research on rural Britain, Professor Corinne Fowler has written a book which opens up the colonial histories of Britain’s countryside.

The British countryside, so integral to our national identity, is rarely seen as having anything to do with colonialism. In Our Island Stories: Country Walks Through Colonial Britain, historian Corinne Fowler brings rural life and colonial rule together. Through ten country walks with varied companions, Fowler combines local and global history, connecting the Cotswolds to Calcutta, Dolgellau to Virginia, and Grasmere to Canton.

Empire transformed rural lives: whether in Welsh sheep farms or Cornish copper mines, it offered both opportunity and exploitation. Fowler shows how the booming profits of overseas colonial activities directly contributed to enclosure, land clearances and dispossession. These histories, usually considered separately, continue to link the lives of their descendants now.

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