This Research & Knowledge Exchange Doctoral Project brief summarises our priority areas of research interest under the heading of: Grunts and Squeaks and Squawks: Humans and Other Animals.

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with and in response to this brief.

Project brief details

“When I play with my cat who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?” 

Michel de Montaigne, 1580

Though many animals are now acknowledged to be sentient beings, sharing with us emotions such as love, pain, fear and sadness, still the majority of our engagement with other animals relies on dominance, subjugation and on the value placed on our perception of their ‘intelligence’. In this proposal we would like this perspective to be explored and challenged. 

Recent critical work in the sciences and humanities has explored our relationships with other animals, with key researchers including Donna Haraway, Melanie Challenger, Denise Herzing and Eva Meijer. The subject has also increasingly become a mainstay of movies, documentaries, TV series and podcasts, such as My Octopus Teacher (2020), Wild Isles (2023), and The Psychosphere (2021-present). But where film and documentary can use imagery, literature must rely on words, using the language of the human to communicate the nonhuman.  

This project will be a creative and/or critical exploration of the relationships between humans and other animals. We welcome innovative ideas and approaches, especially in the fields of non-fiction, poetry, fiction and critical theory. 

A candidate might like (but does not need) to consider questions such as, How are inter-special relationships reflected in literature and the arts? Where do the borders of empathy and understanding between species begin and end? What are the complexities embedded in writing about the nonhuman?  

Strategic alignment

Projects deriving from this brief are expected to sit within the Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy and the following department.

Department School of Communication

All successful research degree project proposals must emphasise a clear alignment between the project idea and our Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy. 

Project brief lead

Luke Thompson
Luke Thompson

Project supervisor: Dr Luke Thompson

Luke is a writer, editor and publisher from Cornwall. His interests include print production, small press publishing, creative non-fiction, biography, human-animal relationships, environmental literature, poetry and South West writers.

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How to apply

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We welcome all research degree applications aligned with this Doctoral Project brief. ​To apply in response to this brief or learn about the application process click the button below.

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Project brief & project proposal enquiries

To discuss this project brief, ideas or project proposal responding to this brief, please contact: Dr Luke Thompson.


Application enquiries

For all other application related enquires please contact the Research & Development team.


T01326 255831

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