Research Clusters

SWW DTP students participate in cross-disciplinary research clusters to extend their research development and training beyond each programme’s immediate research field. The clusters have been developed around themes and questions of wide resonance that will enable cross-disciplinary dialogue and knowledge exchange.

How the research clusters work:

  • SWW DTP research clusters are student-led, with academic support and advice.
  • Students can get involved with multiple clusters.
  • The clusters are adaptive to the needs of each cohort and we encourage students to set up new interdisciplinary clusters based on their research interests. The DTP is currently supporting the following student-designed clusters: ‘Understanding Change’, ‘Memory Studies’, ‘Gender and Sexuality’, ‘Figures in the Landscape’, ‘Rethinking Community’, ‘Creativity in Research’ and ‘Space, Community and Culture’.
  • Students engage in discussion and debate across institutional boundaries using the SWW DTP’s research cluster Facebook group and at the biannual cohort days.
  • Students organise and run research cluster activities and events, with academic and DTP admin support where needed.
  • The cross-disciplinary activities bring together students, academics and representatives from our external partners to interrogate topics and resources of common interest.
  • Possible activities include conferences, workshops, seminars, poster sessions, screenings, public events, performances, visits and walks…the list goes on!
  • Students apply to the SWW DTP for funding to support activities.


Current SWW DTP research clusters

How is change conceived, imagined, experienced and evaluated?

‘Understanding Change’ examines a question at the heart of much Arts and Humanities research: how, why and with what effect does change occur?

Discussion explores political, social, economic and cultural transformation in the past, present and future and critiques theoretical and empirical approaches made across disciplines.

Cluster leads: Maria Rupprecht (University of Bristol), Elisa Ramirez Perez (Cardiff University) and Mark Higgins (University of Bristol)

Twitter: @changecluster

Created by our students, this interdisciplinary cluster brings together scholars across the arts and humanities to analyse how events are remembered and memorialised. Addressing topics including history versus memory, collective memory, memoryscapes, trauma, national identity, counter-memory, commemoration, and museum studies, the research cluster seeks to understand the impact of memory on culture, society and politics.

Cluster leads: Sebastian Bustamante-Brauning (University of Bristol), Erica Capecchi (University of Bristol), Iona Ramsay (University of Exeter), Sandy Gale (University of Bristol)

Memory Studies website

Twitter: @MemoryStudiesSW

Created by our students, the cluster explores gender and sexuality related themes across a range of disciplines.

Cluster leads: Abby Ashley (University of Bristol) and Nemo D’Qrill (University of Bristol)

Gender and Sexuality blog

Twitter: @swwgender

This research cluster draws together a number of interconnected ideas and concepts, including: ecocriticism, animal studies, landscape history, theories of place, topography and cartography, nature at war, field work, conservation and heritage, farming and agriculture, soundscapes and acoustic environments, theories of dwelling, landmarks and mark making, edgelands, marginal territories, raw materials, paths and tracks, landscape and labour, rural and folk culture, localism, environmentalism, and material culture.

The aim of the cluster is to explore the relationship between human beings and the natural world over time, across disciplines, and beyond the confines of academia. It assesses the impact of humans and animals upon the environment, and examines cultural representations of what has come to be known as ‘landscape’. One aim of the cluster is to build on the reputation of the South West as a locus of environmental activism and green ideas, as exemplified by initiatives such as the Eden Project, the Coleridge lectures, and the Bristol Green Capital partnership.

Figures in the Landscape website

Twitter: @inthelandscape

We explore all forms of creativity in academic research, working across multiple disciplines. We are particularly interested in examining the following questions:

How can creativity be used to develop original ideas or to enhance critical thinking?

How can creativity be analysed and studied?

How can creativity be encouraged and integrated into research and society?

We believe that practice-based and creative research methodologies, as fairly new branches in academia, still need to unleash their potential and shape the research landscape. For this reason, the Creativity in Research cluster encourages the dialogue between practice-based projects and more traditional research: the objective is to provide people with tools to look at problems and questions from more nuanced angles and perspectives.

We look for, discuss, and promote approaches and methodologies that can be borrowed from creative practices and the arts, and be applied to other fields and forms of research.



Cluster Lead: Rachel Carney (Cardiff University)

Rethinking Community is a network of researchers whose research interests, projects, methods, and/or backgrounds broadly interact with the idea of community. We welcome researchers of all disciplines and time periods. The cluster encourages us to think critically and reflexively about:

1. Conceptual and methodological concerns, acknowledging our identities, biases, assumptions, and power when working with/researching communities
2. ‘Community’ as a broad and messy term/activity
3. Ideas of togetherness, inter-relationality and sociality

We ask:
1. How do politics, culture and society affect and shape our ideas of community?
2. How can we enact systemic change to move academia to a more equal, diverse, and inclusive community?
3. Who is left in and who is left out? And who is using/projecting these terms?
4. What methods can we use to explore community? How can we sensitively explore this concept?
5. What benefits can it bring to impact-focused academia?

The cluster runs a range of activities, including monthly discussion groups and work-in-progress sessions. For the academic year 2021-2022, we are planning a seminar series of guest speakers and are looking to establish our own blog. We also host regular coffee mornings to check in and chat with colleagues!

All welcome! Please get in touch at via

Follow on Twitter at @swwdtp_rcn

Cluster Lead: Nyle Bevan-Clark (University of Southampton)


Cluster Lead: Katy Humberstone (University of Exeter)


This cluster brings together SWWDTP researchers engaged in work on language, languages, speaker communities and applied/theoretical linguistics. Its members have wide-ranging research interests spanning work on contemporary languages and their communities as well as past and future speakers and languages. In addition to language as an object of study, the cluster considers the role of language a tool for research itself.

Find out more about the cluster, its members and upcoming events on the cluster website.




SWW DTP proudly supports Question – A Journal for the Humanities, which has been designed and created by our DTP PGRs. Previous SWW DTP journals also include Gendered Voices, designed and created by the Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster.

Question was founded by SWW DTP postgraduate researchers in 2017 and regularly publishes work by both DTP and external PhD students. Our submissions team welcomes a range of content from academic articles and blog posts to creative writing and visual art. Submissions from all disciplines in the arts and humanities are accepted, including English Literature and Language, History, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Classics, Religious Studies, Archaeology, Fine Arts, Music, Film and many more.

To find out more, please visit our website.

If you wish to make a submission please click here.

Twitter: @QuestionJournal

Past Student-Led Clusters

How have pre-modern ideas and materials been received and reinterpreted over time?

‘Pre-Modern Encounters’ considers conceptual and practical approaches to materiality, to the identification and interpretation of heritage objects, and the imperative for a productive exchange between academic and public priorities.

Pre-modern Encounters blog

How have, and will, the arts and humanities inform our understanding of science and technology?

‘STEAM Subjects and Objects’ considers to what extent scientists learn from researchers in the arts and humanities, and how might the arts and humanities be used as a way of communicating and thinking about scientific discovery?

STEAM blog

What can theory learn from creative practice and vice versa?

‘Theory and Research in Practice (TRIP)’ explores the following questions: what is the nature of practice as research? Is it different from practice-led research or creative practice research? To what extent can creative and critical research practices be understood as forging a new paradigm for knowledge generation?

TRIP Cluster website

Twitter: @TRIPcluster

Created by our students, the cluster takes the body as its theme and embraces it in all its different modes of being and ways of being studied. This includes:

·         Body as the third-person object of science or other analytical studies

·         Body as the grounding of first-person experience and action in practice based subjects

·         Body as a conduit between the human and culture in the social sciences.

The initial key research focuses identified, include:

·         The relationship between mind, body and world

·         How we experience our embodiment through both the senses

·         How mind and body can be alienated from one another through new media and virtual platforms.

Embodiment blog

Twitter: @EmbodimentDTP


The ‘TRAM’ cluster’s core aims are to consider notions of translation, representation, adaptation, and mobility in increasingly globalised settings. Given the ever-changing current political climate, the cluster comes together to look at different modes of (self)-representation, and how these have been embodied and re-fashioned primarily in literature, visual culture, social media, and the press. Today’s radically shifting political contexts and ideologies make the values of this cluster all the more relevant and engaging.

Twitter: @TRAMcluster

The ‘Politics, Community, Culture’ cluster focuses on political/politicized communities and cultures, as well as the politics of culture and community more broadly. The cluster aims to bring together interests in grassroots organizing, identity construction and collective narratives. These can be formed in different localities, and in response to different political events, movements and processes.
The cluster asks questions such as: what does it mean to be political and how do we become politicized? In what ways are political communities formed and what kind of stories do they offer? How do we examine their experiences? Why has this focus on culture and community gained traction in recent political discourse? And how do we position ourselves as political beings within our research?
The cluster explores these themes through a variety of approaches, ranging from participatory, practice-led and community-based methodologies, to those more conventional in academia.

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