Well, the adage about waiting for one bus and then more coming could not be truer here. I previously noted about the rarity of funded Ph.D. opportunities for those researching air power, well I can now announce another opportunity that the RAF Museum and I will be very closely involved. This opportunity is a Ph.D. studentship for a project on ‘The Business History of the British Aircraft Industry.’ The RAF Museum is acting as the partner organisation with the Department of History at King’s College London and the Museum’s aviation company records will form the core of the project. Here are the details:

King’s is now inviting applications for one of the Professor Sir Richard Trainor Ph.D. Scholarships in the Department of History at King’s College London in collaboration with the Royal Air Force Museum. The scholarship will commence from October 2016 onwards and is open to new incoming Ph.D. students only.

Project Description:

The aim of this research is to provide the first archive-based account of the history of the British aircraft firms. It will seek to address the many important issues left open in the histories which have transformed our account of this industry over the last generation, particularly in relation to leadership, ownership, politics and innovation. In the older histories, whether by historians of the air force, air lines, British war production, or the British economy, the story was told of a weak peacetime industry which rose to great heights in wartime but which, not least through government incompetence, was unable to reap the rewards due to it in peacetime. By contrast in the last generation historians have told a very different story, which shows that the industry was primarily military and strong in both peace and war. Indeed the strength of the industry followed from the particular warlike strategy of the British state, right through the twentieth century. The industry was strongly committed to innovation, to new methods of production, to pushing the boundaries of aviation. In each of these areas the work will draw on new work which has changed our understanding of the nature and ideology of the British business/technical elite; the history of production; and, the nature of innovation in the aircraft industry.

The Department of History was ranked 5th of all UK History departments in the 2015 REF with 86% of our research activity assessed as ‘world leading or internationally excellent’. It is a research-led department with a strong reputation for contribution to scholarship, teaching and practice. The Department is located on the Strand Campus of King’s College London where the studentship will be based.


Lead Supervisor: Professor David Edgerton
Second Supervisor: Professor Joe Maiolo
Partner Organisation: Supervisor: Dr Ross Mahoney

Application documentation:

Applicants must complete and submit:

  • a CV
  • a 4000-word writing sample
  • personal statement explaining why they would be suitable

to graduateschool@kcl.ac.uk by 12pm (UK BST) on 29 February 2016. The subject line of the email should read ‘RT Scholarship 1617 – [include the relevant project title]’

All documents should be submitted as a single pdf.

Two academic references must be received by the deadline for the application to be eligible. Candidates are responsible for instructing referees to submit their references to graduateschool@kcl.ac.uk using the subject line ‘RT Scholarship 1617 – [name of applicant]’.


Please note that as part of selection, short-listed candidates will be invited for interview.

Funding Details:

The scholarship will provide an annual payment of £15,000 which can be used to cover tuition fees and/or living costs.

Length of Award:

3 years (PhD)


For any enquiries about the project, please contact:

Professor David Edgerton
david.edgerton@kcl.ac.uk/0207 848 7662

These details can be downloaded here.


One thought on “PhD Opportunity at King’s College London and the RAF Museum

  1. There are some very useful references on the topic in the chapter ‘The Prestige of the Aircraft Industry’ in Corelli Barnett’s ‘The Lost Victory’. Barnett’s typically scathing analysis suggests that the need to achieve and secure long-term profits was always seen as a rather grubby secondary consideration, when it should have been preeminent in the minds of the government and the aircraft industry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s