UCL Research Institute for Collections


Special Collections Visiting Fellowship

The 2024 UCL RIC 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.

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 a Visiting 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 2024. 

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 £4,500.
  • 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:

  • A research output in the form of a recorded lecture, a conference paper, a publication or a scholarly digital resource.
  • A live public output during or after the Fellowship period, such as a talk, a seminar or a pop-up display.
  • A blog post, an event recording, a podcast or another digital output that outlines the research project for the RIC website.
  • 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 extensive 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:

Please note that only collections managed by UCL Special Collections are in scope.

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 the application deadline. 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.

The potential to enhance or collaborate with existing UCL projects such as the Eugenics Legacy Education Project (ELEP).

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 Rebekah Seymour, RIC Support Officer.

The deadline for applications is 5 February 2024. Applicants should send the following documents to Rebekah Seymour (rebekah.seymour@ucl.ac.uk)

  • 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.  These letters may be attached to the application or submitted seperately by the application deadline.

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 mid March 2024.