Postgraduate research

Student Profile: Gemma

PhD Topic
The Secret Lives of Digital Museum Resources and Collections: Teaching Practice and Interactions with the Smithsonian's Learning Lab

Where did you study your undergraduate/masters?
I studied Comparative Literature at King’s College London for my BA, did a PGCE at Oxford Brookes and more recently studied an MA in History of Art at UCL.

What have you chosen Leicester for your PhD?
The department of Museum Studies has staff with a huge range of experience and expertise. The PhD is an excellent opportunity to collaborate across national boundaries with both the University of Leicester and the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Why have you chosen the Midlands Graduate School?
Being part of the Midlands Graduate School means that you’re part of a community of researchers with whom you can share ideas and projects. You also have the opportunity to develop your skills through a range of training modules.

When did you decide you wanted to do a PhD?
I decided in the last couple of years that I wanted to pursue a PhD to gain more insight into educational practices in museums and digital learning platforms, after having worked for a number of years in the education sector, both in schools and in cultural organisations. These experiences sparked my interest in how museums can create both formal and informal creative learning opportunities which enable the development of a range of transferable skills.

Why did you decide to do a PhD?
I wanted to better understand developments in digital and creative learning and be part of a research project where I could contribute to the development of educational resources; the collaborative project with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access really suited my interests. I wanted to develop a range of knowledge and research skills, as well as to have the opportunity to learn from academics and other professionals in the field of museum learning and digital practices.

How did you go about looking for a PhD place?
I looked at, as well as the Arts Council jobs website.

How did you find out about Leicester/MGS?
I discovered the MGS through the advert on the website but had also heard positive things about Leicester from alumni.

What do you think will be most enjoyable about your PhD?
I’m looking forward to delving into topics which I find fascinating, such as methods for research in education, pedagogical methodologies and theories, online curation/collections and educational design. I’m also very excited to learn from and work with colleagues and educators in the museums and schools sectors, both in the UK/US and beyond. 

What do you think will be the most challenging about your PhD?
Getting to grips with quantitative analysis and better understanding mixed methods approaches will be a particularly new challenge (which I am embracing!).

Do you have any plans for after your PhD?
I anticipate that I would like to continue to pursue research in tandem with some educational work in museums, including the development of creative and digital learning opportunities. However, I will continue to consider my future plans as I navigate the experience of doing a PhD.

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