Library Services


UCL Special Collections Visiting Fellowship

The UCL Special Collections Visiting Fellowship offers an opportunity to visit UCL to conduct research on a topic centred on the UCL Special Collections holdings.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we have made the difficult decision to suspend the Special Collections Visiting Fellowship for 2020.

For further information on UCL’s response to COVID-19, please visit our webpage and the Library response webpage.


Items from UCL Special Collections

About the Fellowship

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 July and December 2020.

The aim of the Fellowship is to raise awareness of the collections amongst the research community, to facilitate new research into UCL Special Collections, and to disseminate the research outcomes to academic and non-academic audiences.

The Visiting Fellow will receive:

  • A grant of £3,500.
  • Work space in our reading rooms 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 for publication by UCL 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
  • Politics and social policy, especially 19th and 20th century reform movements
  • History of science, especially medical sciences and genetics
  • Mathematics
  • History of the Medieval and Early Modern book
  • Hebraica and Judaica
  • History of education, especially 20th century (e.g. Woodcraft Folk Archive)
  • History of London, especially 19th and 20th century
  • History of University College London
  • Speech sciences and conversational data

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 2020. Fellows need to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK before making arrangements.

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

  • The demonstrated need to consult specific items or collections within UCL Special Collections. Preference will be given to proposals that relate to the core subject strengths of the collections.
  • The potential of the project to increase public understanding of the materials consulted, through publication or public dissemination, 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. Email Colin Penman, Head of Records, on c.penman@ucl.ac.uk.

The deadline for applications is midday (12 noon) on 3 February 2020. Applicants should send the following documents to Tabitha Tuckett, Acting Head Of Rare Books, at t.tuckett@ucl.ac.uk:

  • A completed application form.
  • A research proposal (1,000 words maximum) that specifies the timescale, the items or collections that will be used and how the research will be disseminated. 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.

Notification of the award will be made by early March 2020.