The Museum of Leathercraft houses a large selection of leather objects, which provides a significant, but currently under-exploited, resource relating the manufacture of the leather to the craftsmanship and use of objects framed in an historical context. We are seeking a self-funded PhD student to undertake a multidisciplinary project combining scientific analysis and the leathermaking craftsmanship of the Museum’s collections, co-supervised by Dr Fiona Brock (Reader in Analytical & Archaeological Science, Cranfield Forensic Institute) and Dr Graham Lampard (Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Leathercraft).

Brief Overview

This PhD project aims to combine scientific analysis and the leathermaking craftsmanship of the Museum’s collections through the prism of 40 caskets. These come from different countries (including the UK, the Low Countries and Italy), span the 12th to the 19th centuries, and are of varying sizes, designs and construction. The project will investigate:

  • how the caskets were constructed (including materials, construction techniques and repair);
  • how the caskets were decorated, and what the decoration symbolised or recorded;
  • the intended purpose of the caskets. Was their design and/or construction influenced by their function or vice versa?


This project will provide a rare opportunity to work on a collection of similar leather objects all held in one location. The Museum of Leathercraft was established in 1946, and is funded by the Liveries Company. More details of the Museum and it’s collections can be found at The student will be based at Cranfield University’s Forensic Institute, and will have access to a wide range of analytical techniques including X-radiography, optical and scanning electron microscopy, XRF and hyperspectral imaging as well as excellent photographic facilities. The PhD could be undertaken full-time (3 years) or part-time (6 years).

We also welcome enquiries from students wishing to undertake Masters by Research or PhD study relating to analysis of other aspects of the Museum’s collections, and would support applications for funded PhD places through the AHRC’s South, West and Wales DTP ( for October 2024 entry.

Where is it Based?

Primary supervisor Dr Fiona Brock is based at Shrivenham campus in Oxfordshire, while associate supervisor Dr Graham Lampard is based at the Museum of Northampton.

Cranfield Forensic Institute is based across both Cranfield and Shrivenham campuses, and the student will be registered at the most appropriate campus.

Being part of Cranfield's Researcher Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This Network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas, identify opportunities for collaboration and create smaller communities of practice. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

At a glance

  • Application deadlineOngoing
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start dateAs soon as possible
  • Duration of awardFull-time 3 years / Part-time 6 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberCDS050

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This opportunity would suit a student with a background in chemistry, material science, archaeological science, museum conservation or similar. Enquiries are also welcome from potential applicants with relevant experience within heritage crafts and leather-working.


3 Research Degree Opportunities: This is a self-funded project

How to apply

For further information please contact Dr Fiona Brock / Dr Graham Lampard

Email: /

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.

NOTE: Contact information will be the admissions office as standard.