British academy


18 May 2012

The British Academy has announced five new research projects for 2012. The five new projects (selected from 33 proposals submitted) have been recognised for the excellence of their scholarship, and the promise and excitement of their programmes. The projects will be funded by the British Academy over the next few years. 

Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy, said: “Kitemarking excellence is one of the hallmarks of the British Academy. It is a great pleasure to be able to announce some exciting new extensions of the Academy’s long-standing support for major collaborative research projects. Research activities being supported from this year include investigations into areas as diverse as the world-famous Terracotta Army statues; childhood and play; and the history of IVF.” 

The winning projects are:

Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army

Collaboration with China will be fostered through the Making of the Terracotta Army project, which is investigating the crafting methods and logistical organisation behind the making of the vast Terracotta Army, the world-famous archaeological figures, which guarded the mausoleum of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang (259-210 BC). The project brings together specialists from several different fields in order to open up entirely new areas of insight into both the warriors and their world. 

(Project Director, Dr Marcos Martinon-Torres, Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Science and Material Culture, University College London)

The Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese

The Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese aims to develop a comprehensive annotated, digital corpus of all texts from the ‘Old Japanese’ period, that is, the earliest attested stage of the Japanese language, mainly the 8th century AD, corresponding to the Nara period of Japanese history (710-784). The project will publish texts and translations, and a bilingual Old Japanese -- English dictionary will be developed alongside and as an integrated part of the corpus.

(Project Director, Professor Bjarke Frellesvig, Professor of Japanese Linguistics, University of Oxford)

IRIS (Instruments for Research Into Second Languages)

Contributing directly to the Academy’s commitment to the improvement of Languages and Quantitative Skills, a new project, IRIS (Instruments for Research Into Second Languages), supported by a large, voluntary international network, will provide a searchable and freely accessible international repository of instruments and materials that have been used to collect data for research into second language learning and how languages may best be taught.

The research and teaching communities can search, up- and download instruments, improving accessibility and transparency of data collection instruments. Over time, it is expected that IRIS will lead to a step change in the systematicity of research agendas across different language contexts.

(Project Director, Dr Emma Marsden, Senior Lecturer in Language Education, University of York)

The IVF History Project

Research on the History of IVF will bring together personal recollections of scientists involved in the development of IVF techniques, media representations and archival research to contribute to both historical and sociological understanding of technological assistance to human reproduction. 

(Project Director, Professor Sarah Franklin, Sociology Professor, University of Cambridge)

Childhoods and Play: An Archive

Research into the history of children’s play will be facilitated by the Childhoods and Play project using the archival collection of Iona (1923–) and Peter Opie (1918–1982) relating to the play and traditions of children. This internationally significant collection contains information contributed by some 20,000 British children, as well as the Opies’ own observations and sound recordings. A critical resource, this will, in turn, underpin research by the project team into the history of children’s play over the past sixty years, with particular reference to the impact of changes in media and commercial markets.

(Project Director, Professor Jackie Marsh, Professor of Education, University of Sheffield)

Further information on the British Academy’s funding opportunities can be found on the website. 

Editor’s notes:

  • For more information or interviews, please contact Kate Rosser Frost, Press & PR Manager at the British Academy on or 020 7969 5263.
  • The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, is the national body that champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It aims to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement across the UK and internationally.   For more information, please visit