Simon Popple


Following an MA by research in British Documentary Film and state sponsored commercial film at Leeds University (awarded in 1988) I worked as a research assistant at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (now theScience and Media Museum, Bradford). During this three year period (1991-1994) I worked on the development of institutional histories of cinema and photography within the Science Museum and developed exhibitions on early cinema. I was particularly focussed on the development of the role of technologies in the creation of cultural history and in the dominance of the institutional voice. I was then invited to apply for a programme development role at Manchester Metropolitan University where I wrote and taught on the new BA Hons Film and Visual Media and began to develop my primary research interests in early cinema and photography. I developed teaching specialisms in film and photographic archives and established broad teaching links with the Northwest Film archive, Documentary Photography Archive the various Manchester Galleries. (1994-1999) I then moved to the University of Teesside to help develop the plans for the new Northern Region Film and Television Archive where I became Managing Director as part of my duties. I also became Pro-Dean for Research and Enterprise. During this period I was also funded as CI on the AHRC/BFI Mitchell and Kenyon Project and established the journal Living Pictures which is now Early Popular Visual Culture (Taylor and Francis) and co-founded the Visual Delights Conference series in conjunction with the University of Sheffield.(1999- 2005) I then moved to the Institute of Communications Studies at Leeds to develop teaching and research in photography and digital archives where I am now Director of Impact. Since my arrival at Leeds I have increasingly focussed on developing archival based research and have so far received funding as PI on two AHRC/BBC funded Knowledge Exchange project on the archive of the 1984/5 Miners Strike ( ) and was recently awarded a major AHRC Connected Communities award for the Pararchive Project. ( ). This project is primarily concerned with the creation of an open source publicly owned archive engagement platform developed by communities through Community Technology and Research Laboratories and exploring notions of open space and public value. All three projects seek to allow various publics to engage with traditionally closed or controlled institutional collections and to develop their own research capabilities and ongoing relationships with public institutions. We are working with the BBC and Science Museum as key project partners. I am also currently engaged on other projects dealing with ideas of institutional representation and control which include being CoI on an AHRC Cultural Value Award on Digital Engagement with Culture, the WUN funded Film Policy and Soft Power Project, and the BA funded Representations of Contemporary Soldiering in Digital and Visual Cultures Project. I have also worked on developing Impact having previously served as deputy head of school and as deputy director of the Creative and Cultural Industries Exchange. 

Previous Positions:

2003-2005: Managing Director of the Northern Film and Television Archive: University of Teesside

2002-2005: Assistant Dean for Research and Enterprise- the School of Arts and Media, University of Teesside

2001-2002: Principal Lecturer in Media History, University of Teesside

1999–2001: Senior Lecturer in Media History, University of Teesside

1994-1999: Lecturer in the History of Film and Visual Media at Manchester Metropolitan University

1992-1994: Research Assistant/Curator, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television





  • Director of Impact
  • LAHRI Digital Cultures Lead

Research interests

Research Interests

I have become increasingly focussed on the co-production of digital tools which allow communities and organisations to develop independent access to cultural and historical resources as a means of communication, storytelling, campaigning and social advocacy. My research is concerned with the relationships between individuals, communities, institutions and concepts of democratic exchange, open space and the digital sphere. I have worked with a range of community and arts organisations and national institutions including the BBC and the Science Museum Group and have led several AHRC/EPSRC funded projects in this area. I have also acted as adviser on the AHRC funded project 'The Family Archive: Exploring Family Identities, Memories and Stories Through Curated Personal Possessions' awarded in 2014 and the AHRC’s Digital Transformations Project Tracking IP Across the Creative Technologies (TRI-PACT) awarded in 2015. I am currently a member of the Cambridge University Born Digital Data network.

I am also involved in a project with colleagues in Modern Languages investigating multi-ethnic accommodation and tension within Kirkgate Market. The pilot stage of this project has been funded by a British Academy Small Research Grant (PI Paul Bagguley) and the University of Leeds Sadler Seminar Series (PI Janet Watson).


AHRC: 2017-18. Principal Investigator: AH/P005918/1Digital Community Workspaces: Delivering Impact through Public Library and Archive networks.

AHRC: 2017-2019. Co-Investigator: AHRC Network: Language and Nature: Sustaining Biocultural Diversity across the Red Sea into the Arabian Gulf.

AHRC: 2017. Co-Investigator: AH/P005268/1Using Digital Tools to Challenge Xenophobia and Support International Development in South Africa.

NERC: 2017. Co-Investigator: NE/PO15964/1 Seismic Cities.

AHRC: 2016-2017. Co-Investigator: AHRC AH/N001966/1 Digital Tools in the Service of Difficult Heritage: How Recent Research Can Benefit Museums and their Audiences. 

EPSRC: 2014-2015. Principal Investigator: Island Stories: Growing Digital Heritage – Pilot Project for Sustainable Society Network+ .

BA: 2014-2015. Co-Investigator: Representations of Contemporary Soldiering in Digital and Visual Cultures .

AHRC: 2013-2015. Principal Investigator: Pararchive: Open Access Community Storytelling and the Digital Archive – (AH/L007800/1) Connected Communities Project funded under Digital Transformations in Community Research Co-Production in the Arts and Humanities .

AHRC: 2014. Co-Investigator: Experiencing the Digital World: The Cultural Value of Digital Engagement with Heritage – (AH/L014424/1) .

AHRC: 2009. Principal Investigator: Open Archive: The Miners' Strike: A Case Study in Regional Context – (AH/H500030/1) Research Grant  and follow-on.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MA by research in British Documentary Film and state sponsored commercial film at Leeds University
  • BA (Hons) English and History

Student education

I teach and supervise across a range of subjects including photographic history, critical theory, archives and community partnerships, film and digital cultures.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>