PhD in Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies

Research in Museum Studies incorporates an extraordinarily wide-ranging collection of theories, methods and approaches. The key to a good PhD is focus and depth. It is this that produces the most significant insights and which can result in results that have widespread implications. As a research student, you will be expected to develop a deep understanding on one aspect of museums, heritage, galleries, representation, material culture study, technological or media. This will require a thorough engagement with the literature and analysis of practice.


The PhD in Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies is a research degree - it is not supported by taught modules. It is assessed on the basis of an 80,000 word thesis based on original publishable research in Museum Studies. The thesis is submitted, usually after 3 years (full-time) or 4 to 6 years (distance learning), and examined at a viva voce examination which will normally take place in Leicester.


As a research student you will be allocated a primary supervisor who will guide you through your studies. This will be supplemented by a second supervisor who will provide additional support to you where appropriate. 


All research students undergo annual review.  The purpose of this review is to ensure sustained progress through to completion within the permitted registration period. Before the end of the first year for full-time students, or the end of the second year for distance learning students, the review panel will determine whether you will be permitted to progress from APG (Advanced Postgraduate) to PhD status.  This will be based on a portfolio of your work together with your plans for completion. The School is keen for students to complete within normal periods of registration, and it is important for applicants think about the logistics of undertaking PhD study before applying. A PhD represents a commitment to an intensive period of study which will make you a professional-level researcher.

Research training

We do not offer a taught doctorate. We value those qualities of the PhD which centre the student as a creative researcher. Our Masters students develop the capacity to shape their learning experience and tailor teaching materials and assessments to their own needs. Similarly, we support our PhD students to become independent researchers, developing their own research identities and pursuing their own personal development plans. As a Leicester PhD student you will experience a highly individualised programme of research training, with the emphasis on developing the skills needed to complete your thesis and, where appropriate, to prepare you for your subsequent career.  These include generic skills and subject-related skills.

You will be offered a menu of opportunities for training and skill development from which you will be expected, in consultation with your supervisor, to create your own personalised programme of training, subject to on-going review and evaluation.  Along with training provided by the University at School and College level, other opportunities for skills-development include:

  • Self-directed reading
  • School-based subject-related classes and lectures
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Teaching opportunities
  • Work experience.

Your supervisor will be able to support you through this process. You will also be part of a community of PhD students who are actively seeking to develop resources and experiences to aid individual development.

You can find examples of past and present PhD research here.

See also PhD in Museum, Gallery and Heritage Practice

Back to Research Degrees

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