AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) PhD Studentship

Short-lived Newspapers: Reassessing Success and Failure in the 19th Century Press

(Reference: 001/AHRC/OCT21)

Edge Hill University and the British Library are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship from 1 October 2021 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.

All research students are registered in the University’s Graduate School and housed in the faculty or department that is most appropriate for the project on which they are working. The successful candidate in this case will be housed in the English, History and Creative Writing department.

The project will explore the British Library’s recently digitised corpus of ‘short-lived’ newspapers and explore what might be termed the ‘lifecycle’ of the nineteenth-century press.

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Bob Nicholson and Dr Andrew McInnes at Edge Hill University and by Dr Luke McKernan and Dr Elizabeth Gaskell at the British Library.  The student will spend time with both Edge Hill University and the British Library and will become part of the wider cohort of AHRC CDP funded PhD students across the UK.

Edge Hill University and the British Library are keen to encourage applications from a wide range of students and particularly welcome those currently underrepresented in doctoral student cohorts.

The Research Project

The precise focus of this project will be developed in partnership with the student, the British Library, and their supervisory team. However, inspired by a staple-feature of the Victorian press, we playfully suggest dividing the project into three key areas, each of which examines a transitional phase in the newspaper’s development: (1) Births, (2) Marriages, and (3) Deaths.

Research questions include:

(1) Births
The launch of a new newspaper was a substantial undertaking — one that required a significant investment of capital, time, and self-belief. Why did so many people take-on the challenge? This project will explore the reasons why newspapers were established during this period, and reveal the motivations of the journalists, proprietors, and investors behind these endeavours. We suggest focusing particularly closely on the introductory editorials of newspapers in the Library’s ‘short-lived’ dataset. In these opening salvos, editors often articulated their aims and made bold predictions about their future. These introductions, which have not been systematically explored by historians, have much to tell us about the energetic first phase in a new paper’s lifecycle. In particular, they often set out the objectives against which a newspaper’s later successes, or failures, can be assessed.

(2) Marriages
Many nineteenth-century newspapers did not proceed straightforwardly from birth to death, but instead underwent a series of mid-life transitions, including mergers, name-changes, geographical relocations, and major redesigns. The mergers of different newspapers have yet to receive sustained critical attention from historians, though the challenges posed by tracing these developments will be all-too-familiar to curators. We suggest identifying a series of ‘marriages’ between different newspapers in the Library’s collections and then asking: what were the motivations behind these mergers, how did papers navigate a change in their identities?

(3) Deaths
Death looms large over the Library’s collection of ‘short-lived’ newspapers, which have been gathered together because their lives were ostensibly brief. But what brought about the ‘death’ of a newspaper? We propose to investigate the reasons why nineteenth-century newspapers ceased publication, including factors such as: commercial failure; personnel changes; scandal; legal difficulties; and the successful completion of their mission. We will also explore how different papers dealt with their own death as it approached. While some expired suddenly without notice, others raged against the dying of the light before joining the great newsstand in the sky. An examination of newspapers’ final editorials, in which they often bade farewell to their readers, reflected on their achievements, settled scores, and accounted for their demise will bookend the project.

Benefits and Opportunities

The successful candidate will be registered in the University’s Graduate School and housed in the faculty or department that is most appropriate for the project on which they are working. The successful candidate in this case will be housed in the English, History and Creative Writing department.

Edge Hill University is “a great success story… an institution that improves and impresses year after year” – Times Higher Education. The University has been ranked Best University Workplace (Times Higher Education 2015), judged Best UK Employer (European Business Awards 2016) and highly commended in Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2017 for Workplace of the Year. Based on an award-winning campus in West Lancashire, Edge Hill University offers a stimulating and empowering environment for ambitious and high performing professionals.

It is an exciting time to join the Dept of English, History, and Creative Writing as we consolidate our research strengths in nineteenth-century studies through the research group EHU Nineteen and look forward to hosting the joint British Association of Romantic Studies / North American Society for the Study of Romanticism conference in 2022.]

At the British Library, the student will become part of a vibrant cohort of collaborative doctoral researchers and benefit from staff-level access to the Library’s collections, resources and development opportunities, including the in-house Digital Scholarship training programme. CDP students also benefit from a dedicated programme of professional development and networking events delivered by the Library in tandem with the other museums, galleries and heritage organisations affiliated with the AHRC CDP scheme and are eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events.

This collaborative PhD studentship offers the opportunity to combine academic training with practice-based experience and research behind the scenes of a major cultural institution. This is a unique opportunity to gain a wide range of transferable research skills designed to support careers in both academia and cultural heritage.

Studentship information

The PhD studentship can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

AHRC CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. 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 studentship can also be extended for 3 additional months up to 4 years to provide further professional development.

The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home UKRI rate for PhD degrees. The UKRI Indicative Fee Level for 2021/22 is £4,500. Edge Hill University will waive the difference between its’ home and international tuition fees for this opportunity.

The award also pays full maintenance for all students, both home and international students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for the academic year 2021/22 is £15,609. This is a tax-free training grant. In addition, the successful candidate will receive a maintenance payment of £550/year and an allowance of £1000/year. This additional allowance of £1000/year applies where the university is outside London and the non-HEI partner’s main site in London, as is the case for this studentship.

Further details on UKRI funding for doctoral training can be found on the UKRI website: https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training/

In addition, the successful student will be eligible for an additional research allowance courtesy of the British Library, up to £1,000 per financial year or part-time equivalent, for the duration of the project.


This studentship is open to both Home and International applicants.

Applicants should have or expect to receive a Masters-level qualification in a relevant discipline or equivalent experience. It is expected that applicants provide evidence regarding English language proficiency at the point of application.

To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain in or enter.
  • Further guidance can be found here:


    Application information

    Relevant disciplines include, but are not limited to, Cultural History and Economic & Social History, Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Periodicals Studies, and Media History. Equivalent experience might include, but is not restricted to, a strong track record of employment in a library, museum, or heritage institution, that includes responsibility for relevant archival research, collections curation, and/or public engagement activity.

    Collaborative doctoral students are expected to spend time at both the University and the British Library, but they will not be required to be continually present on site at either location. It will therefore be possible for students to live and work remotely, if they wish, as long as they are able to visit the Library and the University whenever necessary for purposes of research, training, and supervision.

    Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the museums, galleries, archives and library sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

    Applicants must satisfy the standard UKRI eligibility criteria. For further information please see:


    Closing date: 01 June 2021 at 13:00

    Applications received after this date cannot be considered.

    Fixed interview date: 15 June 2021 on Zoom

    The successful applicant must be able to start in October 2021.

    How to submit your application

    To submit your application:
    Please complete the application form online and download a copy when prompted to do so.
    Once you have done this, please send the following items in one email to Graduateschool@edgehill.ac.uk quoting the studentship reference 001/AHRC/OCT21 and the project title, in the subject of the email:

  • a download of your application form;
  • a research proposal (not more than 2000 words excluding references) related to the title you are applying for;
  • a full academic CV;
  • a copy of your qualification certificates and passport
  • International applications, including EU applicants, must provide a copy of a one of the accepted English language tests at the point of application. Accepted tests, and exemptions, can be found here.
  • Applications that have not included the above information will be classed as incomplete and, therefore, ineligible for shortlisting.

    Edge Hill University and the British Library are keen to encourage a wide range of applicants from different backgrounds and particularly welcome applications from students currently underrepresented in doctoral student cohorts.

    Contact us

    If you are interested in applying, you are welcome to contact the following for an informal discussion about this opportunity:

    Dr Bob Nicholson (Reader in History and Digital Humanities; Edge Hill University) Nicholsb@edgehill.ac.uk

    Dr Luke McKernan (Lead Curator, News and Moving Image, British Library)




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