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PhD Studentship: Broadcasting before Broadcasting: A Comparative Approach to the History of the Electrophone, 1894-1938

Loughborough University - Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 tax-free stipend per annum plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 29th May 2019
Closes: 28th June 2019
Reference: SS-BBBOct19

Start date of studentship: 1 October 2019


Primary supervisor: Dr Simone Natale (Loughborough University)

Secondary supervisor: Prof Gabriele Balbi (USI, Switzerland), David Hay (BT Archives), James Elder (BT Archives)

This AHRC-funded PhD studentship aims to develop the first comprehensive study of the Electrophone, a telephone broadcasting system that operated in the United Kingdom between 1894 and around 1938. The selected student will be assisted by an international team of supervisors and work in collaboration with a private partner, BT Archives.

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field.

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Full Project Detail:

Much before the emergence of radio, television and online broadcasting services, telephonic systems brought information, education, and entertainment into the home through telephone lines. One such system was the Electrophone, which operated in the United Kingdom between 1894 and around 1938. This system has been considered sporadically in the scientific literature (e.g. Povey & Earl, 1988; Briggs, 1977), and this project aims to develop the first comprehensive study of the Electrophone. The project will combine historical methods based on archival research with hands-on approaches in media archaeology and museum studies.

Although similar systems have been extensively studied elsewhere in Europe, e.g. France (Bertho, 1981) and Italy (Balbi, 2010), the Electrophone is a neglected area in the history of broadcasting in the UK. The project will provide an early example of the convergence of telecommunications and media to integrate services, content offerings, and means of communication under one core technology. The Electrophone, in fact, can be regarded as an early example of media convergence and, especially, of convergence between telecommunications (the telephone) and mass media (newspapers).

The selected PhD student will work with an international team of supervisors composed of Dr Simone Natale, a Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University; Prof. Gabriele Balbi, an Associate Professor at USI Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland; David Hay, Head of Heritage & Archives at BT Group; and James Elder, Archive Manager at BT.

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Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Communication and Media Studies or History or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: historical research; archival research.

Funding information:

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £15,009 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. EU citizens who do not meet the UK residency requirement are eligible for tuition fees only.

Contact details:

Name: Dr Simone Natale

Email address:

How to apply:

Applications should be made online at Under programme name, select Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies  

Please quote reference: SS-BBBOct19

Applicants should include in their application a letter covering their career trajectory and motivation for this working in the project, a CV, a proposal (max 2 pages) which should detail their plans to develop the studentship’s research project.

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