The Northern Bridge Consortium is a Doctoral Training Partnership (NBCDTP) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The NBCDTP runs an annual competition to select the best doctoral candidates and provide a comprehensive and attractive package of financial support over the duration of study, which includes payment of tuition fees and a maintenance award (currently £15,009 per annum).

This Collaborative Doctoral Award project is supervisor-led in partnership with the Irish Museums Association.

Project Description

Cross-border museum projects, focusing on exploring histories, identities and cultural expressions has, on the island of Ireland, been driven by EU intervention and support. The project rationale, methods and working practices have shaped creativity and impacted audiences on both sides of the border, stimulating new thinking about museum purposes.  This project gains new insights into how EU cultural and peace building strategies impacted museum practice. It garners new appreciation of how EU-projects have shaped workforce skills, project development and audience engagement in the museum sector. It looks to the future at how the best of such projects can be nurtured.

In 2018 the Irish Museums Association-Ulster University report Brexit and the Museum Sector in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland suggested we must gather and evaluate data on cross-border funding, planning and practice, workforce, training and partnerships in order to understand more deeply both the processes that shape museum practice and potential pathways for the future. The 2019 IMA study Bridge Over Brexit, which briefly documented 8 such projects, revealed a dearth in understanding of the character, content, working practices and legacy of cross border museum-based projects. It is imperative that this information is captured and considered, so the sector can continue to innovate and flourish regardless of the exact outcome of Brexit-negotiations. This is a significant gap in our knowledge and understanding as we go forward in a changed political and policy environment.

By considering the character, value and impact of EU funded cross-border museum projects, this Collaborative Doctoral project aims to significantly advance our understanding of the social and political dimensions of cultural policy and practice in a cross-border context.

The objectives of this project are: (1) To get a deeper understanding of the past, present and future relationship between the EU and the museum sector in Ireland and Northern Ireland;  (2) To provide new insights into processes, rationale, character and working practices of EU funded cross border museum-based projects; (3) To ascertain the impact of such projects on peace building, workforce skills and development, museum practices and policies as well as their audiences; and, (4) To make recommendations on how museums can continue to deepen and sustain cross-border creativity.

The collaboration with the Irish Museums Association, both in method and direction, means this research is fully embedded in the museum sector. Through an annual and flexible IMA placement, the researcher will be integrated into the policy and advocacy work of this all-Ireland cultural organisation, funded by Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council. Data collection, workshops and events will be undertaken at museum sites in the border counties.

Full project details can be found at this link

Applicants are invited to submit an expression of interest to the Supervisor and the Local NBCDTP Administrator by the deadline stated in the full project details.

How to Apply to the Competition

Full details about the competition, eligibility, application process and timeline are available on the NBCDTP website from the link below under the heading Funding.

There are two stages to this process:

Stage 1 – Postgraduate Application (Online) by 4pm on Monday 13 January 2020. Applicants should make an online application to Ulster University. Applicants should insert NBC20 in response to the question relating to how you plan to fund your studies on the Funding Details section of the online application.

Stage 2 - Student Nomination by 4pm on Monday 17 February 2020. Following an internal assessment School/Department-based selection panels then select their strongest nominees on the basis of the applicant’s qualifications, research proposal, relevant experience and references. Those applicants will be asked to complete a Nomination Form, which must be submitted to Northern Bridge by the applicant’s School/DepartmentNominations made after this date will not be considered.

Results will be announced to successful candidates on Wednesday 8 April 2020.

Northern Bridge Eligibility Criteria

Prospective applicants to the Collaborative Doctoral Awards are required to meet the AHRC's eligibility criteria which can be found at this link:

Academic Qualifications and Experience

Competition for Northern Bridge studentships is intense, and we require evidence of academic excellence at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as evidence that the candidate has sufficient research skills to undertake the project.

This generally means a first-class or good upper-second undergraduate degree and performance at or around distinction level in a masters degree.

Note that Undergraduate degree (first-class or good upper-second) should be in a subject relevant to the research project as found within social and policy sciences or arts and humanities;  Masters Degree should be in a relevant subject, such as arts and heritage management; cultural policy; heritage and museum studies; cultural tourism.

In exceptional cases, candidates with lower qualifications may be considered if they can demonstrate that relevant professional practice or work experience has equipped them with equivalent academic and research skills, and preparedness for doctoral study, as per AHRC guidelines.

Desirable Criteria

A 2nd 'working language' of the EU Commission is desirable but not essential.

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

The Doctoral College at Ulster University