Vacancy Leverhulme PhD Studentship: Learning to be Human - Skill Acquisition
and the Development of the Human Brain
UCL Department / Division: Institute of archaeology
Duration of Studentship: 3 years
Applications are invited for a Ph.D. studentship to work on a Leverhulme
Trust-funded project that seeks to understand human craft skill acquisition
as a window on the evolution of the human brain. The specific objectives of
this Ph.D. project are to develop, test and implement an experimental
‘transmission chain’ protocol for studying the acquisition through copying
of archaeologically-attested craft techniques. There will be a particular
focus on stone tool making, but other technologies (such as pottery) may
also be studied during development of the protocol. The developed protocol
will then be used to carry out transmission chain experiments with a subject
cohort of trained stone tool makers in the third year of the project (see
below). The Ph.D. student will also have responsibility for developing a
series of behavioural and questionnaire-based tests to assess individual
variability in cognition and motor skills in the same subject cohort. This
Ph.D. project will be supervised by Dr James Steele (Institute of
Archaeology, University College London, UK).
The larger Leverhulme Trust-funded project will also involve a three-year
practice-led experimental programme training subjects in replicating
prehistoric stone tools, co-ordinated by Professor Bruce Bradley
(Archaeology Department, University of Exeter, UK) with some training
sessions held in London, France, Denmark and the US. Functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fMRI) will be used to investigate neural mechanisms of
observational skill learning, in relation to behavioural analyses of the
underlying hierarchical structure of different tool-making technologies:
these components will be led by Dr Dietrich Stout (Anthropology Department,
Emory University, USA and Honorary Research Fellow of the Institute of
Archaeology, University College London, UK) using laboratory facilities at
University College London. Novice participants will undergo MRI examinations
at the beginning, middle and end of the training programme, allowing a
longitudinal investigation of skill-related changes in brain activity.
Everybody involved in the project will be experimental subjects and learn or
enhance their skills in stone tool making. This will provide the large
sample that is required and will ensure the continuing participation of
subjects throughout the project.
Applicants should possess a good honours degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum)
in any of the following disciplines: psychology, archaeology, anthropology,
engineering, or a closely-related field. Knowledge of statistical analysis
of experimental results is highly desirable. It is also beneficial if
applicants have some experience in human factors or human movement science.
Applications are invited from UK/EU applicants. Refer to
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/admission/graduate-study/application-admission/ for a formal application pack. Please include a CV and a short covering letter as
to why you feel this project will further your own research interests.
Please send applications by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and by post to
AHRC CECD, Institute of Archaeology,
31-34 Gordon Sq, University College,
London WC1H 0PY.
The post will be available to start on 27th September 2010, or as soon as
The award covers tuition fees and maintenance/living costs of a Ph.D.
studentship, at the base rate for UK/EU applicants. This includes
maintenance/living costs of £15,590 per annum.
If you would like to discuss your application please contact Dr James
UCL Taking Action for Equality
Closing Date: 30 Jul 2010
Latest time for the submission of applications: 6pm
Interview date: 10th or 11th August 2010
Studentship Start Date: 27th September 2010, or as soon as possible