'Shut up' - Pandemic Lockdowns and Health Inequalities, 1600 to present day


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time) 5 years (part-time)

Application deadline:

Midnight 31 January 2022

About this project

COVID-19 lockdowns have helped bring UK communities together in a shared experience of incarceration, but research is also revealing inequalities in this experience across gender, region, and socioeconomic status. Rooting present-day inequalities in past pandemics, this interdisciplinary project works across English, History, and Health Sciences to explore experiences of public health incarceration during plague outbreaks in 17th-century Hull. The project draws on the rich public health records housed in Hull History Centre archives to identify gender and economic inequalities in how town authorities enforced regulations to shut up plague-infected households for forty days. Comparing past with present, the project uses Hull as a case study to explore how histories of inequality can help us devise policies and deliver strategies for future pandemic lockdowns. It uses seventeenth-century poetry, letters, and diaries to give voice to the incarcerated across time and compares historical accounts to the emerging genre of pandemic literature today.

The successful candidate will join a vibrant, interdisciplinary research environment at the University of Hull's Cultures of Incarceration Centre (CIC) which is proud of its growing postgraduate community.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Stewart Mottram.


About the 'Transatlantic Cultures of Incarceration’  research cluster

Based in the Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education, the Cultures of Incarceration Centre explores creative responses to the experience of incarceration across cultures and continents, with ‘incarceration’ applied to a host of historical and contemporary contexts, including prisons, pandemics, and modern slavery. Our work informs wider discussions of race, class, gender, humanity, and citizenship in countries across the world, and pioneers new interdisciplinary ways of working with colleagues from across subject areas and in collaboration with external partners and stakeholders.

Our students will play an active role in the Centre, whether by supporting the Centre’s research seminar programme, producing podcasts connected to student research projects, or mentoring MA Incarceration Studies students. Cultures of Incarceration Centre students receive expert supervision from a dedicated team of supervisors, and also benefit from access to pastoral and career mentoring opportunities. Students enjoy dedicated workspace within our on-campus resource room and at the Wilberforce Institute for Slavery and Emancipation, based in Hull’s historical city centre.

Click here to watch a recording of our recent webinar about this funded postgraduate research opportunity.  You'll hear from programme leaders, supervisors, and students and listen to queries from other applicants in the Q&A.


Other PhDs in this cluster

Modern Slavery in Literature: Searching for the Subaltern

Modern Slavery in Film: Producing and Representing Exploitation

Photographing the Incarcerated Flood Victim

Creative Practice & Incarceration: Writing Maternity Diaries

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

Watch the video


The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant/stipend for three years (full time) or five years (part-time), which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 21/22 is £4,500 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £15,609. This rises each year in line with the UKRI’s recommended stipend allowance.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship for full time and within five years and six months if studying part-time.

If you need to move into a fourth year (full time) or sixth year (part-time) to complete your thesis, please note that you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 undergraduate degree (in English, History or a cognate humanities discipline). A Masters in any humanities discipline or relevant experience would also be an advantage.

The successful candidate should be prepared to undertake fieldwork (whether in Hull, nationally, or the US) as required.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time and part-time study.

Research training

As a PhD student here at the University of Hull you will undertake the Postgraduate Training Scheme alongside your main degree, to help you develop the research skills and knowledge you’ll need in your future career. You will gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Research Training in addition to your PhD.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with a home fee waiver only.

How to apply

You will need to supply a personal statement when applying for this scholarship position. Find out more about writing a personal statement. Please also ensure you include the following information:

  1. What motivates you to pursue PhD study
  2. Why you are interested in this project
  3. How your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need
  4. The wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.

Apply now

Apply for this scholarship: Full time | Part-time 

Closing date: Midnight on Monday 31 January 2022.