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Equipping the next generation of researchers


The Doctoral Centre at the School of Advanced Study is providing the vital resources and support needed for the next generation of humanities researchers.

The Doctoral Centre, which opened in April 2021, has developed a forward-looking and wide-ranging programme of training for the humanities, teaching core research and publishing skills alongside emerging digital humanities techniques and the use of new media and creative outputs to engage new audiences.

The programme constitutes a key component of the UK’s national training strategy for the humanities and lies at the heart of School of Advanced Study’s mission to support the next generation of researchers. Delivered online to ensure maximum accessibility, it has already reached thousands of researchers from across the UK and abroad, underlining the School’s unique reach and leadership role.

The Centre is led by Dr Naomi Wells, Lecturer in Italian and Spanish with Digital Humanities, and Dr Simon Trafford, Lecturer in Medieval History and Director of Studies at the Institute of Historical Research. 

Discussing the significance of the initiative, Dr Trafford said, “the Centre is equally focused on improving the quality of the School’s own doctoral student provision and on new opportunities for researchers in the UK and across the world. We’re looking to identify and apply best practices in doctoral study across the institutes and use them as models for what can be done elsewhere.” 

“The promotion of innovative use of learning technologies across the School is another core ambition of the Centre,” Dr Wells added. “The learning technologists are exploring how new platforms can support the development of the critical, collaborative, and creative skills needed to advance humanities research.”

It is the Doctoral Centre’s formidable but exciting task to develop and reconstitute the humanities research training infrastructure of the UK for new times and new roles. Across the sector, funders and research organisations are paying increased attention to the importance of strengthening both doctoral programmes of study and ongoing researcher development. Rapidly evolving digital technologies and the new research opportunities they bring have highlighted the necessity for researchers at all career stages to engage in lifelong learning and take advantage of the hugely powerful digital techniques now available to them. 

Equally, efforts to further the societal impact of humanities research rely on strengthening researchers’ capabilities, particularly in relation to cross-sectoral collaboration and engaging wider audiences and communities. For doctoral researchers, strengthening these skills can support vital efforts to broaden research-led career pathways within and beyond academia. 

Commenting on the ongoing work of the Doctoral Centre, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Public Engagement) and the School’s Dean, Jo Fox, said: “As a national centre whose staff are at the cutting edge of major humanities research initiatives and cross-sectoral collaborations, the School of Advanced Study is uniquely placed to lead in developing and delivering training opportunities that advance humanities research across the UK and beyond.’

Postgraduate training and researcher development have never been more important for supporting the creation of innovative, interdisciplinary methods for new discoveries and strengthening the cross-sector and societal impact of humanities research. The introduction of the Doctoral Centre in the School of Advanced Study is an important step on that journey.

Find out more about research training at the Doctoral Centre.