Agency and identity in the urban built environment in the histories and heritage of minority religious communities

The University of Bath and Historic England are pleased to announce a fully funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship from 1 October 2020 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. The project represents an exciting opportunity for a student to develop a project of their own interest within the given framework, focusing on a faith and location of their own choice, with expert guidance and training in academic architectural history and practical architectural heritage and conservation.

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Robert Proctor at the University of Bath's Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Dr Linda Monckton at Historic England’s Swindon office, and the student will be expected to spend time at both the University of Bath and Historic England, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.

Project overview

Minority communities at an early stage of formation are rarely able to command sufficient resources to build new, architect-designed buildings. This has clear implications for the heritage value accorded to historic expressions of minority identity, especially of religious buildings, for which heritage criteria are well established. Adaptations of older buildings, improvised or ephemeral forms of spatial organisation, furnishing and embellishment, the use of urban settings for ritual, and self-built structures typify minority expressions of religion in situations of small or scattered populations, poverty and marginalisation. The traces of these architectural interventions may not always persist, and when they do, they are not usually accorded any value through current heritage processes such as national or local listing, where architectural merit often remains a key criterion of judgement, especially for twentieth-century buildings. Yet such neglected interventions may be of great significance to minority communities when they later tell their histories and seek to trace their origins through the built environment.

This project will explore through case studies the ways in which such expressions occurred in the past and how they might be given greater recognition through heritage practices. The specific minority religions to be investigated are left open to the PhD researcher, and may involve a study of one minority religious community, perhaps one of which the student has existing knowledge, or comparative case studies of more than one community. The project will also look for heritage practices elsewhere in the world that can inform potential new strategies in this country to heighten public awareness and protection of minority religious heritage in our urban built environment.

Details of award

CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.

The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home/EU UKRI rate for PhD degrees. The Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2020/21 is £4,407.

The award pays full maintenance for UK citizens and residents only. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285 and the CDP includes a further maintenance payment of £600 per year. Further details can be found on the UKRI website. The student is eligible to receive an additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of Historic England worth up to £1,000 per year for 3.75 years (45 months).

The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis (to a minimum of 50% of time on the PhD).

As this is a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both the University and Historic England, including a minimum of 3 months placement at Historic England, which may be spread over the period of the studentship. The successful candidate will be eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events. All new CDP students will be expected to attend the CDP Student Launch Event on Monday 21 September 2020 at the British Museum.


  • This studentship is open to UK/EU students who meet the residency requirements set out in the UKRI Conditions of Research Council Training Grants. All applicants must meet the AHRC’s academic criteria and residency requirements. See the UKRI grant terms and conditions for further details. The University of Bath's English language requirements must also be met.

  • We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and welcome students from different backgrounds and/or minority groups to apply.

  • Applicants should ideally have a good 2.1 or above first degree in a relevant subject, and have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification (MSc, MA, etc.). Alternatively they should be able to demonstrate equivalent experience to a Masters in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include History, Art History, Architecture, Heritage Studies, or work in the heritage sector.

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the built heritage sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in this area.

How to apply

  • Application deadline: 30 May 2020
  • Interviews: late June 2020 (probably by video-conference)
  • Start date: 1 October 2020

The coronavirus pandemic does not yet affect plans for the studentship, but UKRI and University of Bath policies will be adhered to in case of any prolongation of the current situation. If you are thinking of applying but have specific concerns arising out of the pandemic, please feel free to contact us on the email address above.

Along with your application, you are asked to provide a one-page 400-word (maximum) statement addressing the following points: (a) How has your previous academic and/or work experience prepared you for this specific project, e.g. through previous work, projects or dissertations? and (b) How would you propose to draw on your experience to personalise the project, especially through choices of faith, location, etc.?

Applications must be made through the University of Bath's online PhD application system using the following links:

Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.