AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in the History and Philosophy of Science

PhD studentship: “Constructing and Consuming Imagined Futures: Advertising Healthcare to Publics and Professionals in Twentieth-century Britain”

The University of Leeds Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, in collaboration with the Science Museum and the Boots Company Archive, invites applications for a fully-funded three-year PhD studentship on healthcare advertising in 20th-century Britain. The studentship award has been made by the Science Museums & Archives Consortium under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. The project, due to begin in October 2017, will be supervised by Dr James Stark and Dr Adrian Wilson at the University of Leeds, Dr Oisín Wall at the Science Museum, and Sophie Clapp at Boots Company Archive.

Information about the project

The project will investigate, compare and explain the use of language, expertise and authority in printed advertisements and publicity produced for public audiences and medical professionals regarding different healthcare products and campaigns in twentieth-century Britain. Drawing especially on extensive records at the Science Museum and Boots Company Archive the student will focus on three case studies across the twentieth century. This will provide a national picture of the interactions between healthcare producers and consumers before the NHS, shortly after it was founded, and once it was well-established.

The project is especially suited to candidates with interests in British history, history of modern science, technology and medicine, history of advertising/marketing, and medical humanities and sociology. The guiding research questions which the individual case studies will address will be:
1. How was the efficacy of products or services presented to different professional and public audiences?
2. Who were the targets of different medical advertising drives? How and why were they selected?
3. How did medical marketing utilise imagined futures centred around the eradication of disease in order to sell products?
4. What techniques of advertising were used, and how did these differ over time and as between commercial and public-health campaigns?
5. What do different advertising techniques reveal about how particular medical concerns were viewed, or perceived to be viewed, by audiences?

Where you'll be based

The PhD studentship will be based at the University of Leeds Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science and the Science Museum. The Leeds HPS Centre has a very active graduate programme, including currently around 30 HPS research students, ten of whom are AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards holders. The wider School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, within which HPS is located, has strong affiliations with the cross-School Centre for Medical Humanities, and offers a stimulating interdisciplinary environment for postgraduate research.


Candidates should have, or expect to attain, a good degree and should meet AHRC eligibility criteria: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/documents/termsconditionstraininggrants-pdf/. Applications should include: a curriculum vitae (no more than 2 sides of A4); a sample of writing (3,000 words max); names and contact details of two academic referees; and a covering letter including a 500-word research proposal on the above project. For further details, or to informally discuss the studentship, please contact Dr James Stark. Please send applications to J.F.Stark@leeds.ac.uk by the 24th March. Interviews will be held in April.