Our current students

We support doctoral students across a range of disciplines by providing supervision and access to research facilities. Most of our current students are funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme.

Alex Leigh

PhD title: Beneath the archive: understanding users’ mental models of digital archives to inform user-centred design for humanities research. 2019-

Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: City, University of London

Supervisors: Supervisors: Dr Stephann Makri (City); Dr Alex Taylor (City); Dr Alec Mulinder (The National Archives); Sarra Hamdi (The National Archives).

Digital technology is profoundly changing what it means to be an archive. Increased online access has created both new opportunities for research and brought new audiences to archives. Therefore, this project seeks to investigate users’ understandings of archives and how this affects the ways in which they use archives. By better understanding how users perceive and use archives, we can design new research tools that better support users’ activities within the archive.


Ayshah Johnston

Photo credit: Ayshah Johnson

PhD title: Vagrancy and poverty in the post-emancipation Anglophone Caribbean, 1834–1900. 2015-

Funded by: AHRC, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: University of Newcastle

Supervisors: Dr Joan Allen (University of Newcastle), Professor Diana Paton (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Dan Gilfoyle (The National Archives).


Photo credit: Callum Easton

Callum Easton

PhD title: The 1797 naval mutinies at Spithead and the Nore. 2016-

Funded by: AHRC, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: University of Cambridge

Supervisors: Dr Renaud Morieux (University of Campbride), Dr Quintin Colville (National Maritime Museum), and Bruno Pappalardo (The National Archives).

The 1797 fleet mutinies rank among the largest, longest, and most dangerous protests in British history. My PhD reassesses the causation and conduct of the mutinies within the context of wider British c18 history and analyse mutiny as a negotiation process.

Key research questions include:

How did the mutineers maintain cohesion for so long and on such a scale?

What were the negotiating strategies of the mutineers and the state representatives?

Why did mutiny begin when it did?

Was the mutiny economically, or politically motivated, and what role, if any, was there for concepts of fairness or ‘moral economy’?


Photo credit: Carrie Long

Carrie Long

PhD title: ‘Yours sincerely, humbly and obediently?’ The social agency of petitioning, c1789-1860. 2018-

Funded by: AHRC, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: Durham University

Supervisors: Dr. Richard Huzzey (Durham), Dr. Paul Carter (The National Archives), Katie Fox (The National Archives), Dr. Robert Blyth (The National Maritime Museum)

This project focuses on the social agency of ordinary British petitioners writing at home and from empire. The prospect of emigration, forced transportation, familial separation and ill health were common experiences for mariners, paupers, and convicts in the period 1789-1860. Hundreds of thousands of petitions were written by men and women to the Home Office, Royal Navy and Poor Law authorities in response to these pressures, requesting clemency, relief, and protection. This project aims to contribute to the social history of these groups, using personal petitions to gain access to strategies and negotiations that existed between subjects and the state.


Jack Avery

PhD title: Satire, news and topical reading during the second and third Anglo-Dutch Wars, 1665–1675. 2016-

Funded by: AHRC, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: University of Bristol

Supervisors: Dr Edward Holberton (University of Bristol), Dr Katy Mair (The National Archives) and Dr Robert Blyth (National Maritime Museum).


James Lappin

PhD title:

Archival policy towards email and email accounts: a realist perspective. 2015-

Funded by: AHRC

University: University of Loughborough

Supervisors: Professor Tom Jackson and Professor Graham Matthews with Dr Ejovwoke Onojeharho of the Centre for Information Management, School of Business and Economics (University of Loughborough) and Michael Appleby (The National Archives).
The research compares two rival policy approaches towards email:

  • the ‘Capstone’ policy of selecting important email accounts for preservation;
  • the policy of moving important email into corporate record systems.

This research uses a realist evaluation methodology. It involves:

  • building a conceptual model that identifies each step in the ‘implementation chain’ of archival policy towards email;
  • identifying the points of difference between the two rival policy options at each step of the implementation chain;
  • adjudicating between the rival arguments/propositions for each of these point of difference, on the basis of both archival theory and empirical experience.

The research aims to establish the circumstances in which one of the two approaches is clearly preferable to the other (and who it is preferable for).

The research will also identify any implications for archival theory of the policy divide over email, and will propose refinements to archival theory in the light of the past two decades of experience with email.


Photo credit: Joshua McMullan

Joshua McMullan

PhD title: Defending technocracy: communicating with the public about nuclear energy: historical perspectives. 2017-

Funded by: AHRC, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: University of Leicester

Supervisors: Dr Sally Horrocks and Dr Ben Clements (University of Leicester) and Dr Stephen Twigge and Dr Tim Powell (The National Archives)

The project will examine how Government departments and state agencies that supported the development of nuclear power promoted and defended this commitment to the public from the late 1950s.  I explore how organisations formulated their external communications strategies, collaborated with (and challenged) each other, the wider industry and international associates and how these strategies changed over time.  The project contributes to the history of science communication and of government science. It will also offer lessons for current policy makers interested in the formation and influencing of public opinion on major infrastructure projects and science and technology issues.


Photo credit: Leontien Talboom

Leontien Talboom

PhD title: Making digital data accessible. 2018-

Funded by: London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)

University: University of Leicester

Supervisors: Dr Jenny Bunn and Dr Antonis Bikakis (University College London) and Alec Mulinder (The National Archives)

Digital data is having a growing impact on the archives sector. Traditional practices used for analogue documents do not work for born-digital data, also there are added complexities to the already known issues regarding archival practices.

This project is exploring why digital preservation practitioners are struggling to make born-digital data accessible. Data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with digital preservation practitioners, not only from within the archives sector, but also other institutions and organisation that preserve born-digital material, such as museums, galleries and libraries.

Key research question:

Why are digital preservation practitioners struggling to make born-digital material accessible?


Sam Cottrell

PhD title: Visualising historic time and visually representing uncertainty. 2014-

Funded by: AHRC, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University: Royal College of Art

Supervisors: Dr Stephen Boyd-Davis (Royal College of Art) and Dr Sonia Ranade (The National Archives).


Photo credit: Sarah Dixon Smith

Sarah Dixon Smith

PhD title: Blast injury and chronic pain: treatments and outcomes, a very long-term cohort study. 2018-

Funded by: The Royal British Legion

University: Imperial College London

Supervisors: Prof Andrew Rice, Dr Emily Mayhew (Imperial College London) and Dr George Hay (The National Archives)

I’m using Ministry of Pensions files held at The National Archives to investigate the long-term impact of blast injury, and the development of chronic pain management for amputee veterans. I am using these files to follow up 120 First World War servicemen and investigating the prevalence of chronic post amputation pain, the impact of aging on war wounds, and the likelihood of developing a concomitant condition.

The project is run in partnership between The National Archives and Imperial College London and aims to combine research methods from history and clinical medicine to create a database of cases that will be of use to today’s veterans.