Academic research at IWM

The IWM Institute is an Independent Research Organisation, working in partnership with leading universities on academic research project that  provide new insight into the history of war and conflict. We also host students studying IWM’s world class collections through our Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme .

Current research project

Image of scene at Camp Bastion, the principal British base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan during Operation Herrick XVIII (H18). Taken during a visit by members of the War Story project team. Goods being loaded onto a Boeing Chinook helicopter at the Helicopter Passenger Handling Facility known as 'Little Heathrow'.
© IWM DC 3060
Image of scene at Camp Bastion, the principal British base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan during Operation Herrick XVIII (H18).

Afghanistan: Voices of Service

IWM and the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) at King’s College London are currently seeking participants for a new oral history project focused on the experience of deploying to Afghanistan between 2001-2021.

The oral histories will be preserved permanently in IWM’s collections for future generations.

KCMHR will use a selection of oral histories to research around the impact of deployment(s) to Afghanistan to help shape future support provided to those who deployed.

Read more about Afghanistan: Voices of Service.

Lifesavers: How conflict innovation can build a better world

A painting of a factory floor filled with workers, some wearing protective masks, at various stages of the glass blowing process. Furnaces light up the lower right of the image. It is an oil paint on canvas. It has a gilded wooden frame with glass.
© IWM Art.IWM ART LD 3685
The Evolution of the Cathode Ray Tube by Mervyn Peake.

Imperial War Museums and Lloyd’s Register Foundation are collaborating on a five-year project to explore how conflict has driven innovation in science and technology, and how this innovation affects safety today on land, at sea, and in the air.

Read more about Lifesavers: How conflict innovation can build a better world.

Recent projects


    The Tim Hetherington collection and Conflict Imagery Network

    Between 2020and 2022, the University of Leeds and IWM received Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding for a series of network events, which explored the archive of the award-winning conflict photographer Tim Hetherington.

  • A screenshot from the titles of a United Nations Television programme
    © UN610A

    Filming for Peace in 1990s Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

    In 2019, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded funding for an international research network led by Dr Catherine Baker, University of Hull which brought together researchers, museum professionals, journalists, peace-building experts and survivors of displacement to examine the work of United Nations Television and its collection, produced during the Yugoslav War and deposited at IWM in 1996. The UNTV collection contains 200 reports and video letters, over 2000 rushes, and around 700 documents, providing valuable insights into UNTV’s operations during the Yugoslav Wars.


  • A group of men crowd around the gates to a recruitment office in north India
    © IWM IND 1300

    Provisional Semantics

    In 2020, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded funding for Provisional Semantics, one of eight Foundation Projects funded under 'Towards a National Collection', the five-year £18.9m research programme using digital technology to create a unified national collection of the UK's museums, libraries, galleries and archives

    A collaboration between Tate, The National Trust, Imperial War Museums and the Decolonising Arts Institute at the University of the Arts London, Provisional Semantics explored how museums and heritage organisations can engage in decolonising practices to produce search terms, catalogue entries and interpretations to support everyone to engage positively with a digitised national collection.

See our latest Research Reports.

Collaborative Doctoral Research

IWM supervises several Collaborative Doctoral Award students who are researching their PhDs through the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships Scheme. 

A group of CDP students sat around a table talking

Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Learn more about our Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

A view from the top of a ridge on the Falklands. Two helmets are visible against the blue sky.
© IWM (FKD 2779)

Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Projects

Explore CDP research projects with topics ranging from 'Dreaming and the First World War' to 'Surviving Modern War: experiences British service personnel in the Falklands campaign, 1982'.

Four students sit at a table in conversation

Student Testimonies

Read testimonials from past and present CDP students.

Staff Researchers

IWM staff are active in the research community, with specialisms including conflict photography, material culture of war and sexual violence in conflict. 

  • Suzanne Bardgett

    Suzanne Bardgett

    Suzanne Bardgett is Head of Research and Academic Partnerships. Prior to that role, Suzanne led the team which created the IWM’s first Holocaust Exhibition opened in 2000. She has been Principal Investigator on two AHRC-funded projects and Co-Investigator on a third; co-chaired the Independent Research Organisations Consortium (IROC) from 2016-2020; co-chaired the Royal Historical Society’s working group on equality and diversity (2018-2019); and served on the AHRC Peer Review College (2016-2020). Suzanne is co-editor of Palgrave Macmillan’s series The Holocaust and its Contexts, a co-organiser of the international conference Beyond Camps and Forced Labour and a trustee of the Freud Museum. She has published widely, most recently Wartime London in Paintings (2020) and is currently working on The Air War in Paintings (due early 2024).


    Chris Cooper

    Chris Cooper is Head of the Second World War and Mid-Twentieth Century Conflict team. With the University of Southampton’s Dr Chris Fuller, he is currently supervising Hirah Azhar’s collaborative PhD on the consequences of digital and social media influence operations by state and non-state actors. He was previously responsible for developing the museum’s collections relating to the Iraq War and counter-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria and was the IWM lead on the Social Media in Conflict Research Project, working in collaboration with Dr Charlie Winter of King’s College London. At IWM he has curated exhibitions Yemen: Inside a Crisis at IWM North and War Games: Real Conflicts | Virtual Worlds | Extreme Entertainment at IWM London.

  • Louise Skidmore

    Louise Skidmore

    Louise Skidmore is Head of Contemporary Conflict. Previously she led the innovative War Story project from 2010 to 2016, which introduced new collecting methodologies to IWM and established IWM’s contemporary conflict collection, which continues to grow under her leadership. As War Story project manager she oversaw the exhibition projects War Story: Serving in Afghanistan, Supplying Frontline Afghanistan, Afghanistan 2014 and Fighting Extremes: From ISIS to Ebola leading on proactive collecting for these projects, which involved ground-breaking visits to Helmand and to Kabul, Afghanistan. She has led exhibition projects as both project manager and curator, most recently as lead curator for Yemen: Story of a Crisis at IWM North.