‘Theories and Methods’: Literature, Science, and Medicine (2009-11)

From 2009 to 2011, the University of Salford co-ordinated an innovative Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded doctoral training programme, teaching PhD students the ‘Theories and Methods: Literature, Science, and Medicine’.

In collaboration with eleven other partners: the Universities of Salford, Keele, Leicester, Manchester, King’s College London, the London Consortium, the Science Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the Wellcome Library, students were taught by experts with different approaches to disciplinary boundaries, and equipped with the skills needed to utilise manuscript sources, rare books, material objects, philosophy, literature, film, and visual arts in their study. Each partner hosted one event and contributed teaching to the whole programme. There were twenty funded places per event for PhD students in this field to attend events.

Aims and Objectives

  1. To provide a specialised, interdisciplinary doctoral training programme in the theories and methods of studying literature, science, and medicine, which, in the range of collaboration involved, and the breadth and depth of skills and approaches covered, is entirely new;
  2. To use aspects of existing programmes, and experts, from a number of Universities (Salford, Keele, Leicester, Manchester, and the London Consortium) and disciplines (English literature; history of science, technology, and medicine; philosophy of science; and science and technology studies) in the provision of a programme that otherwise could not be provided by a single institution;
  3. To collaborate with national museums (the Science Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry), national bodies (the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal Institution of Great Britain), and archives (the John Rylands University Library, the Wellcome Library) in the delivery of this training;
  4. Through such collaborations to enhance the quality of students’ doctoral training: introduce them to the practical skills needed for certain careers, such as in heritage and museums, and give them an experience of public-facing institutions and their activities.

Evaluation Summary

  • 65 students participated in the programme from 37 institutions
  • 33 UK institutions plus the Universities of Alberta, Toulouse, Cornell, and Harvard
  • 17 students were AHRC funded
  • Students came from 11 disciplines: English, history (including history of science and of medicine), midwifery, archaeology, sociology, philosophy, art history, and creative writing
  • 102 members of the online social space during the programme

Full evaluation document