For the past five years, the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies has drawn together academic staff and postgraduate students across Durham University, Newcastle University, and Northumbria University for research conversations, international conferences, and interdisciplinary collaboration. We will formalise the crucial role of postgraduate members in guiding the intellectual agenda of CNCS by funding up to two Postgraduate Research Curatorships per academic year. The aim of this scheme is to place the cutting-edge research interests of doctoral students at the heart of our programme; to support doctoral candidates in forging their own research networks, and to provide a prestigious opportunity to demonstrate the skills required to secure competitive funding and deliver a successful scholarly event.
Postgraduate Research Curators will be responsible for the intellectual direction of one of CNCS’s flagship research events during the academic year. Applicants must be current CNCS members, and preferably current postgraduates or recent graduates. Single applications can be submitted jointly with three named applicants. Applications will be supported in allocating a budget of up to £500 to pay for event. All successful applicants will be consulted and assigned an agreed fellowship mentor (CNCS academic staff) to provide support and oversight. The intention is for the Fellow(s) to present their own research or to host one or more external speakers to the CNCS community. The theme of the event, its structure, and the invited speakers are left to the applicants to judge. Events from one to two hours up to a full day are acceptable, provided the duration is appropriately related to the content and funds are appropriately used.
Applications will be assessed by academic staff on the CNCS Advisory Board and awarded on the basis of (i) interdisciplinary breadth and/or intellectual novelty; (ii) appeal to current or potential audiences for CNCS events; (iii) benefits to the applicant, the Centre, and other researchers in encouraging research dialogue. Where an applicant is a postgraduate student supervised by a member of academic staff from the CNCS Advisory Board, the supervisor will not take part in assessment of the application.
One of the academic staff on the CNCS Advisory Board will be assigned to advise each successful applicant on delivering an event, with financial transactions handled by the CNCS Administrator. Where appropriate, a senior scholar from beyond the Advisory Board may be approached to act as mentor for the Postgraduate Research Curator, if the mentor could provide specialist knowledge or additional networking advice in developing collaborations beyond the event.
Ask your supervisor(s) to discuss your application and to comment on a draft. It will be important to secure your supervisor’s advice on whether the time committed to leading a research event is manageable with other commitments and professional goals for the coming academic year. The supervisor can also advise on how to strengthen your application.
Attend one of the drop-in sessions offered by academic staff on the Advisory Board to help guide prospective applications. Though we cannot offer to comment on drafts by e-mail, we can discuss your plans and offer informal feedback to shape your application at one of these drop-in sessions.
Ensure that the event will meet CNCS’s aim to foster interdisciplinary research collaboration. You may demonstrate this through the selection of speakers or the way in which the topic is framed to allow a breadth of disciplinary perspectives. Imagine how far fellow postgraduates from other departments would be able to take part in the discussion/questions at your proposed event and let this guide you in appealing beyond your own discipline.
Pay careful attention to the criteria against which applications are assessed and answer the questions on the application form precisely, with detail. However good your idea, it will only score well in a competitive selection process if it shows deep engagement with the scheme’s aims and avoids generalities. Follow the word limits strictly, as additional material may not be considered by the panel.
All applicants should submit an application form, detailing their proposal.
We would encourage applicants to seek advice from their doctoral supervisors in developing the strongest possible applications. Members of the Advisory Board are unable to provide feedback on draft applications by e-mail, but prospective applicants are encouraged to attend drop-in sessions, as outlined above.
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