An AHRC-funded PhD studentship is available from 1 October 2011 for a collaborative research project between the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Leeds and the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds.

‘Gunpowder and the Rise of Early Modern Science’

It is widely recognized that the emerging science of the seventeenth century demanded reciprocal interaction between theory and practice. Yet the fusion of scientific theory and military practice during the early modern era has attracted surprisingly little scholarly attention. This project will investigate the relationship between early modern science and gunpowder technology. What kinds of interactions took place between experimental philosophers and skilled craftsmen who had a shared interest in gunpowder technology? How did this relationship play out in complex historical reality? Why was gunpowder at the centre of a number of heated debates among the founder members of the Royal Society? Historical analysis will be aided by replication of gunpowder experiments and craft practices, drawing on the Royal Armouries’ technical and safety expertise. Through a focus on gunpowder technology, this project will yield important new insights into the relationship between theoretical abstraction and practical application as it features in early modern experimental science.

Applications are invited from students in a variety of disciplines, e.g. history of science and technology, military history, economic history, experimental archaeology, intellectual history, and museum studies. We are looking to recruit a highly promising student who will relish the unique opportunities this award offers.

The project will be supervised by a team comprising Dr Sophie Weeks (main supervisor), Dr Steven Walton, Professor Graeme Gooday, Dr Chris Kenny, Mr Graeme Rimer (Academic Director of the Royal Armouries) and Mr Peter Smithurst (Emeritus Curator of Historical Firearms at the Royal Armouries).

The project student is expected to help with reorganization of the Royal Armouries’ significant reference collection of small arms ammunition, to create an online exhibit promoting its use, and to contribute to its online and printed historical outreach sources. For information about the Royal Armouries in Leeds visit

Studentship Information

The studentship is tenable for up to 3 years (full-time) or up to 5 years (part-time) from 1 October 2011. Renewal of the studentship each year is subject to satisfactory academic progress.

AHRC regulations require that applicants must meet UK residency criteria or be ordinarily resident in the EU. EU candidates are normally eligible for a fees-only award, unless they have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award. Applicants should normally have, or expect soon to be awarded, a Masters degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. history of science, technology and/or medicine; museum studies; history). Further details concerning eligibility are available via the AHRC website at

Full awards cover academic fees at the standard UK rate and a maintenance grant for full-time study (the maintenance grant for part-time study will be pro-rata) together with other allowances if appropriate. In the 2011/2012 academic year full-time awards provide a maintenance grant payment of £13,590 p.a. and fees of £3,732 p.a. In addition to these amounts, the AHRC will pay an additional £500 per annum in April to students in receipt of a full award. Students may also be eligible to claim for fieldwork or UK study visits and one overseas study visit as well as one overseas conference for the duration of the award. The student will also receive a contribution to maintenance from the non-academic partner and may also be eligible for travel and related workplace expenses.


The closing date for applications is Wednesday 1 June 2011. You should also arrange for three academic references to be sent to us by this date. Interviews are expected to take place in the week commencing 6 June.

Applications should be made using the standard Department of Philosophy application for a postgraduate research degree (available for download via In place of the PhD research proposal in section G, please write 500 words detailing how you would approach the collaborative project, considering the following points:

a)      how your previous experience would equip you to undertake the proposed research;
b)      how you would formulate the project within the parameters laid down by the further particulars (see below), particularly emphasizing any areas where you think it could usefully be developed;
c)      how you envisage the collaborative nature of the project being of benefit to your study; and
d)      how you consider the proposed research would further your future plans.

In addition, you should send a copy of your degree transcripts (or a transcript of your marks to date if you are currently completing a degree) and a sample of written work, consisting of a historical essay on a question of your choice, not less than 3000 words in length.

All applications and references should be sent to Dr Sophie Weeks, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, email: [email protected], tel: +44 (0)113 343 3359.

Application checklist:

•       application form, including 500-word research statement;
•       three academic references, sent by application deadline;
•       copy of degree transcripts;
•       writing sample of 3000+ words.

Further Particulars

Requests for further particulars and enquiries may be directed to Dr Sophie Weeks, email: [email protected], tel: +44 (0)113 343 3359. Interested candidates are strongly recommended to contact Sophie Weeks before making an application.

Leeds HPS

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at Leeds is at the forefront of the subject in Britain, with a strong tradition in both research and teaching. For over half a century HPS has maintained a first-rate international reputation, expanding to incorporate the study of technology and medicine and embracing a wide variety of approaches. Noted for its friendly and open atmosphere, HPS is located within one of the nation’s largest departments of philosophy, and attracts students from the region, nationally, and internationally.

HPS offers a wide range of opportunities for postgraduate study, in both taught MA courses and research degrees. With twelve permanent and associate members of staff, we offer teaching in many mainstream research areas as well as in important specialist topics. We are also committed to interdisciplinary approaches, and encourage students to consider wider perspectives from the humanities and
social sciences.

HPS has a first-rate record in both research and teaching, and is consistently praised by both our students and external examiners. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2008), two-thirds of the Philosophy Department’s research was rated ‘world class’ or ‘internationally excellent’, matching the percentage of other leading UK philosophy departments such as Oxford and Cambridge. For students aiming for an academic career in HPS and science studies, study at Leeds has proved to be an effective route to success. For further information about Leeds HPS visit

Research Facilities

The Centre has excellent research facilities. The University Library is one of the largest research libraries in the UK, with over 2.7 million books (mostly on open access), including important and extensive historical collections relating to the subject, as well as a fine journal collection and up-to-date e-learning resources. Over half a century the university has amassed a large collection of books and periodicals in history and philosophy of science. There are also many other important libraries and archives easily accessible in the region, including the British Library Lending Division nearby at Boston Spa, and funds are available to history of science research students for travel to archives. Postgraduates have a dedicated room and computer cluster in the department, and also have access to dedicated postgraduate computer clusters at both faculty and university level.

The University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the most popular universities in the UK, with an international reputation for the quality of its teaching and research. Degrees awarded from Leeds are recognised by employers and universities worldwide. It is the UK’s second largest university, with over 30,000 students taking some 650 undergraduate and 300 postgraduate courses. In over a century of teaching the University has played a leading part in the development of modern higher education in this country, and it is a member of the Russell Group of twenty major research-intensive universities in the UK.

Our single campus is a ten-minute walk from Leeds city centre. Most students live within walking distance or a short bus-ride of the University. There is a large and active Student Union, which provides a full range of services.
Dr Sophie Weeks
Department of Philosophy
University of Leeds

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0113 343 3359