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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Williamson graduate studentship in the history of biology or medicine

Deadline for applications: Friday 26 May 2017

About this studentship

The Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) at the University of Manchester offers a fully funded studentship (including maintenance allowance) for graduate study in the history of the biological sciences and/or medicine after 1800. The position is supported by the Williamson Fund, which was established to further the study of these subjects at the University.

Candidates may apply for a studentship in either of two schemes:

(a) Master’s plus PhD study. This scheme is open to students with an undergraduate qualification. It covers, initially, full course fees and a living allowance for our one-year taught Master’s (MSc) in History of Science, Technology and Medicine, which will provide training for doctoral research study. If the student shows satisfactory progress on the MSc, it will then be extended to cover three years of full-time PhD study, again including full course fees and a living allowance.

(b) PhD study. This scheme is open to students with a relevant Master’s-level qualification. It covers full course fees and a living allowance for three years of full-time PhD study at CHSTM.


The studentships are open to all suitably qualified UK and European Union candidates. We regret that we cannot at present extend the scheme to non-UK/EU students who would pay fees at the international rate. The studentships are available for full-time study only, and candidates must be available to begin their studies in September 2017.

The requirements for the two schemes are as follows:

(a) Master’s plus PhD study. The studentships are aimed at highly motivated students with a strong commitment to proceeding through the MSc to PhD research at CHSTM. The requirements for a studentship are higher than those for acceptance on the Master’s programme overall. We will consider all bursary applicants who hold or expect to receive a First-class undergraduate degree or international equivalent (see in a relevant subject such as history, science studies/STS, museology or science communication. However, we will also consider other applicants who can demonstrate strong aptitude for historical or related work through their study backgrounds or professional experience.

Applicants must also demonstrate a clear interest in the history of the biological sciences and/or medicine after 1800, and should preferably have ideas about a preferred research supervision area (see details for scheme (b) below).

Please note that progression from MSc to the funded PhD is not automatic, but will depend on successful performance in the MSc year and the development of a viable research plan.

(b) PhD study. Applicants should have a Master’s-level qualification, at Distinction or Merit level or international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as HSTM, medical humanities, history, science studies/STS, museology or science communication, and should have experience in producing a research dissertation.

Applicants will also need to have thought carefully about a potential PhD research project, and should have discussed this with one or more potential supervisors at CHSTM to ensure its viability. The proposed area of study should be explained in the ‘Case for support’ (see below).

Staff who are likely to be available to supervise on relevant topics include:

  • Prof Ian Burney: forensic medicine and science; medical authority and expertise; medicine and law
  • Prof Pratik Chakrabarti: imperial medicine and science, 1700-1950;  global health policies
  • Dr Jeff Hughes: scientific research in the Cold War
  • Dr Vladimir Jankovic: climate and health
  • Dr Robert Kirk: nonhuman animals in health, medicine and society; social, cultural, material and economic dimensions of medical and scientific practice and innovation
  • Dr David Kirby: science and medicine in fiction, especially film
  • Dr Stephanie Snow:  stroke research and services, quality and healthcare, health services since 1948
  • Dr James Sumner: brewing science and the conceptualisation of yeast as a living organism
  • Dr Carsten Timmermann: cancer research and services; chronic illness; translational research in medicine
  • Dr Duncan Wilson: species loss and the ecology of human-animal health; histories of bioethics

For full research profiles and contact details, please see


The studentships cover all course fees at the UK/EU rate and provide an annual living allowance, provisionally set at £14 553 for 2017-18. Funds have also been committed to ensure that appropriate training and research support is provided.

Further information

For all details of our MSc programme, see the website:

And for details of PhD study at CHSTM:

How to apply

All applicants should complete the application form provided on the accompanying website and submit it as described below, together with

  • a current CV, 1 to 2 pages in length
  • certificates and transcripts of performance from all your previous degrees
  • two references from people who have knowledge of your academic ability

In arranging references, please note that we are specifically concerned with your potential to proceed to doctoral study, including independent original research. References which simply state general support, rather than providing a detailed appraisal of your academic development and suitability for research study, may disadvantage even the strongest applicant: please ensure your referees are aware of this.

Please send all documents together as email attachments to the programme administrator, Alexander Webb, at  <>.

Successful candidates will also need to submit a formal application to the University for a place on the MSc or PhD programme as appropriate. This will require further documentation including proof of identity.

Case for support

Your application should include a ‘Case for support’ of no more than 750 words.

If you are applying to scheme (a), you should explain briefly your relevant experience to date, the source of your interest in the field, and your priorities for future research. If you have already developed a more concrete proposal as described for scheme (b) at this stage, please describe it here.

If you are applying to scheme (b), please describe briefly

  • the research question you intend to address
  • the source material (archives, published sources, interviews etc) which you hope to base this work on, and the existing analytical literature to which you plan to respond
  • if appropriate, any details of your study or professional background which illustrate your suitability for this study pathway and are not sufficiently clear from the other submission documents – for instance, if you have workplace experience which particularly equips you to specialise in the area of the proposed PhD
  • how you see PhD study fitting into your longer-term career plans (for instance, whether you aim to go into academic research, to move to a related field in which you don’t have prior experience, or to use your studies to develop an existing career outside academia).

All potential applicants should discuss their proposed studies with one or more potential supervisors at CHSTM. You are welcome to discuss the wording of your case for support with potential supervisors. It is crucial, however, that the detail provided in the case for support is your own work.


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