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Award details

Shame and Medicine, Art History & Visual Culture - PhD (Wellcome Trust Funded) Ref: 4065

About the award


Primary Supervisor - Professor Luna Dolezal, Associate Professor in Philosophy and Medical Humanities 

Secondary Supervisor - Dr João Florêncio, Senior Lecturer in History of Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in Art History and Visual Culture as part of the Wellcome-Trust funded Shame and Medicine Project.

This fully funded studentship, beginning in July 2021, will be based at the University of Exeter in the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health.

The Shame and Medicine Project is an interdisciplinary research project involving researchers from social sciences, philosophy, cultural studies, literary studies and medicine.

The project is based at the Universities of Exeter and Birmingham, with a core collaborator at Children’s Health, Ireland, Dublin. The aim of Shame and Medicine is to research the role of shame in various aspects of health and medicine, including clinical practice, patient experience and student education. The project is particularly concerned with investigating how race, ethnicity, class and gender impact on the experience of medical shame. Please visit the project website for more information:

The PhD studentship will be part of the University of Exeter Team of the Shame and Medicine Project, working closely with the project’s Principal Investigator Professor Luna Dolezal.

The proposed PhD project will be based in the interdisciplinary programme of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter and co-supervised by Dr João Florêncio.

The prospective student will propose a research project which investigates cultural representations of shame and/or shaming in medicine through some aspect of contemporary visual culture. Projects might explore medical reality television, public health campaigns, social media, film and television or contemporary art.

The overall aim of this PhD research is to contribute to the cultural studies analyses of the Shame and Medicine project, helping to understand how medicine’s contemporary visual culture can both construct and reflect shame experiences and how this feeds into broader shame dynamics experienced by patients, medical students and healthcare professionals. There is a particular emphasis on considering intersectional aspects of experience for example in relation to race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, disability, etc.

The student should have a background in cultural studies, visual culture or art history and be familiar with, or willing to engage with, feminist, queer, postcolonial, critical race and disability theoretical paradigms, among others.

The prospective candidate should submit a PhD proposal (1500-2500 words) which gives an accurate overview of their proposed area of research.
(Please visit Exeter’s Postgraduate Study Page for detailed instructions on how to put together a PhD Research Proposal).

The student will be based in the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, which has a thriving postgraduate community. Ample training and career development opportunities will be available through the Univeristy of Exeter and the Wellcome Trust.

The studentship is for 3 years full-time and will cover University tuition fees at UK/EU rates, with a stipend of £19,919 for year 1, £21,542 for year 2 and £23,298 for year 3, and a research allowance of £5,000 for the three years.

This studentship, including full tuition fees and maintenance allowance, is available to UK/EU candidates. 

International students can apply and pay the difference in tuition fees.

Start date: 1 July 2021

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Professor Luna Dolezal


Entry requirements

PhD Candidate Specifications:

• BA or equivalent in a relevant Arts and Humanities discipline
• Desirable: MA or MFA in a relevant discipline
• Excellent communication skills, including a high standard of written and spoken English
• Willingness to be part of an interdisciplinary team and to engage intellectually with other disciplinary approaches and concerns.
• Willingness to travel (when/if this becomes possible) to attend Shame and Medicine meetings and events.

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline (e.g., English, Art, Visual Culture, Art History, Modern Languages).   An MA or MFA and experience with research is desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

Please note that this studentship is only open to applicants who will start their studies in July 2021, not those who have already started.

How to apply

To apply, please complete the online form.

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and details of two academic referees, and if relevant, proof of your English language proficiency, by 4 May 2021. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project.

You will be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most recent academic qualification.

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided.

Please also submit:

1. A PhD research proposal (1500-2500 words) which gives an accurate overview of your proposed area of research. (Please visit Exeter’s Postgraduate Study Page for detailed instructions on how to put together a PhD Research Proposal).

2. A writing sample (up to 5000 words) which demonstrates your academic writing and research skills. Please include this in the same document as your research proposal.

You must ensure that your referees email their references to by 4 May 2021.

Please note that we will not be contacting referees to request references, you must arrange for them to be submitted to us by the deadline. References should be submitted by your referees to us directly in the form of a letter. Referees must email their references to us from their institutional email accounts. We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

Interviews will be held at Streatham Campus (or online if social distancing does not permit face-to-face interview) in the week commencing 31 May 2021.

Please quote reference 4065 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship.


Application deadline:4th May 2021
Number of awards:1
Value:UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance (£19,919 for year 1)
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Office