Susan Leedham

PhD English student

Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage Service. 

"The collaborative nature of my PhD enabled me to have a real-world application for my research."

Susan's research examined the history of Plymouth’s national designated Cottonian Collection.


"I have recently completed a Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage Service. Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, my collaborative PhD enabled me to spend four years based in the curatorial department of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. My research examines the history of Plymouth’s national designated Cottonian Collection (an eighteenth-century connoisseurial collection of fine art and books). The collection and the accompanying archive had never been explored fully by researchers and I had the rare privilege of being one of the first to burrow into the secrets of this important collection.

The collaborative nature of my PhD enabled me to have a real-world application for my research. Working in partnership with museum curatorial staff, I had the opportunity to ensure that my research was beneficial to and shared with visitors to the museum through the curation of an exhibition, feeding into gallery displays, and talks to the public. My collaborative PhD allowed me to benefit from the best of both worlds – the expertise and guidance of my supervisors at Plymouth University and the knowledge of staff at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery."