Museum Studies at Leicester


In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Museum Studies was the highest scoring unit of any discipline or institution in the UK.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 90% of our research was classified as ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’.

Since its establishment in 1966, Museum Studies at Leicester has played a leading role in the reinvention of museum theory and practice. We have been the locus of creative and critical researchers and practitioners who have transformed the academic field and professional practice. By producing original, rigorous and internationally-influential research, and by working collaboratively on a range of pioneering initiatives, we have made a significant and sustained contribution both to the specific field of museum studies and to the international cultural sector more widely. Our aim is to use our research to impact lives, policies and practices by interrogating the social agency, cultural ecosystems and digital transformations of museums, heritage and art.

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. Since its inception 20 years ago, RCMG’s work has prompted and enabled many cultural organisations to radically refocus their aims and ambitions in relation to social needs, concerns and challenges.

  • The Collective for Research into the Institutions of Art (CRÍA) interrogates institutions and practices constructing art and its histories. Engaging in international analysis, it examines the art of nation making and modernisation, iconoclasm and temporality, the biennial and the non-collecting institution, the rural, and the Early Modern origins of the art gallery.

  • Museums & Technologies engages in collaborative research on digital transformation in museums and heritage institutions, focusing on museum and heritage organisational maturity (leadership, vision, process) and staff digital literacy (skills, agency, creativity).

  • Heritage Lives undertakes critical explorations of the intersections of heritage and everyday lives, focusing particularly on contested contexts of forced displacement and rapid social change; poverty, indigeneity and inequality; and public space and disparities in social and cultural capital. Its geographical focus is the UK, Myanmar, Gulf states, India and China.

Current and recent research projects led by School staff can be found on RCMG and CRIA pages as well as on individual staff pages.

Details of individual staff research can be found on our People pages.

Research Impact Highlights

PhD Research

Our PhD research community currently includes around 80 students from 21 countries, who are undertaking research within and across our focal research areas. 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.

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.

SMS Research Newsletter

The School will soon launch a quarterly Research Newsletter, with news about staff and PhD research, publications, events and projects. Come back soon for the inaugural issue or email the editors to sign up for new issue alerts.

Sign up for SMS research newsletter

Research Seminars

Our fortnightly 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, Dr 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 Dr Giasemi Vavoula or Dr Isobel Whitelegg.

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