Library Services


UCL Special Collections Visiting Fellowship

The 2022 UCL RIC Visiting Fellowship in Special Collections offers an opportunity to visit UCL to conduct research on a topic centred on the UCL holdings of archives, rare books, and records.

Items from UCL Special Collections
About the Fellowship

The UCL Research Institute for Collections was founded in 2021 to foster research synergies centred on the library, museum, gallery and departmental collections held in UCL by bringing together curatorial and academic expertise. The Institute is offering an inaugural Fellowship in Special Collections for a scholar in any field of study to visit UCL to conduct research on a topic focused on the UCL Special Collections holdings.

The successful candidate will spend up to six weeks, or the part-time equivalent, at UCL researching the collections. The fellowship must be taken up between April and December 2022. 

The aims of the Fellowship are to facilitate new research into UCL Special Collections and to raise awareness of the collections amongst the research community and the general public. The Fellow will be expected to engage with the curatorial and research community at UCL, and to disseminate the research outcomes to academic and non-academic audiences. Fellows will have the option of having their work considered for publication by UCL Press.

The Visiting Fellow will receive:

  • A grant of £3,500.
  • Work space on the UCL Bloomsbury campus.
  • Mediated access to the collections.
  • Access to staff with specialist knowledge of the collection in question when available.

The Fellow will be required to provide, as a minimum:

  • A blog post of at least 500 words on the Special Collections blog.
  • A research output in the form of a recorded lecture, a conference paper, a publication or a scholarly digital resource.
  • A short report describing the research experience.
  • A staff briefing about the collections used.
  • Acknowledgement of the grant in any resulting publications.

UCL Special Collections

UCL Special Collections holds one of the foremost university collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK. They include fine collections of medieval manuscripts and early printed books as well as highly important 19th and 20th century collections of personal papers, archival material, and literature, covering a vast range of subject areas.

The core subject strengths of the collections are:

  • Language, literature and poetry from the 15th to the 21st centuries, particularly in English and Italian.
  • 20th and 21st century small-press publishing.
  • Politics and social policy, especially 19th and 20th century reform movements.
  • History of Science, especially Medical Sciences and Genetics.
  • Mathematics.
  • Early modern printed books.
  • Latin American history and economics, particularly 19th and 20th century.
  • Hebraica and Judaica.
  • History of Education, especially 20th century.
  • History of London, especially 19th and 20th century.
  • University College London (UCL), including predecessors and affiliated bodies.

For details of our collections, please see:

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

The Fellowship is open to researchers external to UCL in any discipline, at post-doctoral level or above. Applicants must have been awarded their PhD by 31 January 2022. Fellows need to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK before making arrangements. Please use the government website to check what documentation you need.

The Selection Committee will consider applications according to the following criteria:

  • The demonstrated need to consult specific items or collections within UCL Special Collections.
  • The potential of the project to increase public understanding of the materials consulted.
  • The potential of the project to make an original contribution to research and/or to develop innovative research methods for the study of these materials.
  • The feasibility of the research objectives.

To apply

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact UCL Special Collections before submitting a formal application, to discuss the level of access to the collections that their proposed research project would require.

The deadline for applications is 6 February 2022. Applicants should send the following documents to Erika Delbecque, Head of Rare Books, at e.delbecque@ucl.ac.uk:

  • A completed
  • A research proposal (1,000 words maximum) that specifies the timescale, the items or collections that will be used, how the research will be disseminated, and the expected outcomes during and after the fellowship period. Applicants should indicate how the proposed study advances their own research goals and satisfies the aims of the Fellowship.
  • A curriculum vitae including a list of publications or other research outputs.
  • Two letters of support from referees. Applicants should ask the referees to comment on their professional knowledge of the applicant and the contribution the proposed research would make to scholarship. 

An invitation to take up the fellowship will be subject to agreement on the dates of the visit. Notification of the award will be made by early March 2022.