PhD studentship:  Material Life in the Workhouse –  Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk, 1777-1948

  • Start date: 1st October 2024
  • Gressenhall Open Day for interested applicants: Thursday 18 April
  • Application Deadline: 12 May 2024
  • Interviews will take place online week beginning Monday 3 June
  • Further details

Anglia Ruskin University and Norfolk Museums Service are pleased to announce a fully-funded Collaborative doctoral studentship, from September 2024, under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.

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Using around 1,000 surviving objects held at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse – one of the largest and most under-researched set of objects related to workhouses in the UK – the successful PhD student will analyse the lives, living conditions and institutionalisation of the people who resided and worked in Gressenhall workhouse between c. 1777-1948.

Alongside a material culture approach, the student will engage with the archaeological fabric of the building, conduct archival work at Norfolk Record Office and analyse objects held in other relevant collections. Importantly, the student will work alongside the curator and volunteers at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse to contribute to the objectives of the museum through resources and exhibitions, while undertaking skills development and training to gain the experience needed to develop a future career in the museums and heritage sector.

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Joseph Harley and Ms Rachel Kidd (Curator). The student will undertake research at both Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, part of Norfolk Museums Service, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP-funded students across the UK.

The studentship is open to both Home and International applicants and full- and part-time students.

Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a Masters-level qualification in a relevant subject (suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Art History, or Museum Studies), or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting (e.g. work and volunteering in Archaeology, Heritage, History, and museums/collections, or the public sector and/or roles that require significant research and/or writing skills outside this sector).

All applications will need to be made through the ARU online application portal.

We encourage the widest range of potential students to apply for this CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area. Given the topic of research, we particularly welcome applications from candidates with lived experience of the contemporary social care and welfare systems in the UK, such as care leavers. We also particularly encourage applications from Norfolk and the neighbouring region.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the supervisory team with informal enquiries about the studentship:

  • Dr Joseph Harley, Senior Lecturer in History, Anglia Ruskin University –
  • Ms Rachel Kidd, Curator, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse –
  • If you have any questions about this vacancy or application process, please contact Rebecca Kraszewski, Postgraduate Research Studentships and Partnerships Officer at

Between 10am-2pm on Thursday 18 April, we will be opening up Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse for potential applicants to come to the museum, meet the supervisors, view some of the objects, and look around the workhouse. If you would like to come to this event, please email Rachel Kidd on to confirm your place by Monday 15 April. If you cannot make this date, please email Rachel Kidd to ask for an alternative time if you wish to visit before applying.

Further details

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