The Linen Hall Library’s Northern Ireland Political Collection and the Ideological Origins of the Good Friday Agreement

Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Linen Hall Library, Belfast.

Available from October 2023, this fully-funded studentship includes: payment of university fees throughout the funded period; a tax-free maintenance grant for your living costs at the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) minimum rate (£17,668 for 2022/23); an additional AHRC stipend of £550 per annum to support costs incurred by working with the partner organisation. A further £1200 is available to support costs associated with travelling to the partner organisation. Further details about the benefits of an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP award are available on the DTP’s studentships page.

Closing date: 6 January 2023 (12:00 midday UK time)

Project overview

This doctoral project focuses on the Northern Ireland Political Collection, a uniquely rich and extensive body of journals, pamphlets, posters and election leaflets relating to the Troubles housed in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. The aim is to explore the ideological origins of the Northern Ireland peace process, examining the perspectives of politicians, peace campaigners, and paramilitaries during the transitions that took place between the hunger strike of 1981 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This grassroots history of political ideas will illuminate the repositioning of Unionists and Nationalists over two decades, creating a fuller understanding of the conflict and its transformation. The successful applicant is expected to be based in Oxford in the first and third years, and in Belfast for the second.


Primary supervision for the doctoral project will be provided by Professor Ian McBride ( and Professor Marc Mulholland ( of Oxford University. The History Faculty and University have well-developed systems of research training, monitoring and assessment. The successful candidate will be expected to participate in the long-running Seminar in Irish History. Other experts in Irish history at Oxford include Professor Senia Paseta, Dr Deirdre Foley, Dr David Dwan and Dr Jack Hepworth. 

The Librarian of the Linen Hall Library, Samantha McCombe, will act as co-supervisor. Samantha is the 22nd Librarian of the Linen Hall. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and an MSc in Information Management from Queen’s University, Belfast. Samantha is the immediate past Chair of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Ireland. Project management trained, Samantha will offer training in handling and analysis of the Northern Ireland Political Collection, collections-based interpretation for exhibitions and engagement, content management systems and digital curation, insight and support into the sensitivities of researching and interpreting the recent past and contested narratives, and community engagement.

How to apply

We invite applications from candidates from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Applicants will ideally have a First Class degree in History or a cognate discipline, and/or a Distinction at Master’s level. They should be able to demonstrate an interest in one or more of the following fields: Ireland in the twentieth century; Northern Ireland; ideological conflict; the history of ideas; political violence; conflict resolution. Applicants should meet the eligibility criteria for Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC studentships.

For an informal discussion about the opportunity and how you might frame your approach to the CDA project, please contact Professor Ian McBride ( in the first instance.

You should apply to the DPhil in History by 6 January 2023 (midday, UK time), indicate your interest in being considered for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP studentship and submit a completed copy of the OOC DTP Application Form at the same time.

Further details on how to apply through Oxford can be found on our How to Apply page. Please include a reference to the advertised CDA title in your application form; you do not need to include a reference number.