Belle West


As a current PhD student in the Arts and Humanities School, I am specialising in the history of Siberia and representations of human migration and displacement in the visual culture of Imperial Russia. My seminar for second-year LEAP undergraduates at the University of Leeds focused on human migration in twentieth and twenty-first century art and photography. The workshop entailed a comparative study of discourses on migration in the visual culture of The Great Migration and the Windrush Generation for Black History Month 2021. 

As a PhD tutor, I have also catered to the needs of pupils with SEND and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, as part of my work in the charity sector (The Brilliant Club) and for the National Tutoring Programme during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have delivered high-quality virtual and in-school teaching (in line with the national curriculum for GCSE English Language and Literature and KS2 Art History) and liaised with teachers and programme officers to help improve the attainment of over 50 less advantaged pupils and to widen access to Higher Education. 

Over the summer of 2021, I designed a course on depictions of refugees and migrants in visual culture, and how this visual culture can help us understand the nature of their experiences and assess political and social categorisations of migration. I interviewed and liaised with photographers, artists and the team at Create London about related projects for the course. This course is currently being taught on The Scholars Programme at The Brilliant Club. 

Research interests

I’m fascinated by the relationship between humans and their environments. My current research centres on wanderers, nomads, migrants/refugees and beggars, and the ethnography and social, cultural, agricultural and demographic history of Siberia. I have been inspired by research in Cultural Geography, and I aim to extend my cultural research to the field of Earth Science. I also support my research through art practice, as a landscape painter and scientific illustrator. 


  • Masters by Research in Comparative Literature and Culture
  • First-Class BA (Hons) Humanities with Literature

Research groups and institutes

  • History
  • Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems
  • Leeds Russian Centre
  • Art practice as research
  • Environmental Humanities Research Group
  • Russian and Slavonic Studies