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Graduate Teaching Assistant PhD Studentships Geography and Geology

All postgraduate researchers (PGRs) are registered in the University’s Graduate School and housed in the faculty or department that is most appropriate for the project on which they are working. PGRs working on geography or geology projects are normally housed in the Department of History, Geography and Social Sciences.

Research activities in geography and geology span a broad range of environmental, geological, and social themes. We work in diverse environments, such as active volcanoes; lakes, floodplains and coasts; urban and rural built landscapes; and political and cultural landscapes. Our research involves development of a range of investigative methodologies, including palaeoecological reconstruction, in situ monitoring, ethnographic and participatory methods, tephrochronology, geochemistry, statistical and computational modelling, remote sensing and geospatial analysis. Committed to a long-term research strategy, and benefitting from world-class staff, the department is developing a vibrant research and postgraduate community in exciting research areas, such as:

  • Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction
  • Coastal geomorphology
  • Palaeoflood hydrology
  • Volcanology and igneous geochemistry
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Remote sensing
  • Mobilities, migration and trafficking
  • Natural Hazards, their causes, effects, and mitigation
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals

As part of the department’s commitment to a long-term research strategy, and supported by world-class staff and a vibrant postgraduate community, we are keen to recruit exceptional PhD candidates in exciting research topics, including, though not limited to the below list with additional information on the research area webpages . All PGRs will be supervised by a supervisory team with appropriate expertise. Also, see the University’s research repository for further information on the research outputs of each member of staff.


In the first instance please direct all enquiries about proposed projects on topics related to geography and geology to the Graduate School with Dr Joaquín Cortés included.

Research themes

Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction

  • Fire history and drivers
  • A multi-proxy approach to stand-scale palynology investigations
  • Palaeoenvironmental change and understanding drivers of change
  • Palaeohazard reconstruction and impacts (volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis)
  • Variations and influence of atmospheric-ocean interactions (ENSO, PDO, NAO) throughout the Holocene
  • Palaeoenvironmental change and understanding drivers of change
  • Environmental reconstruction using diatoms, pollen and charcoal

Coastal geomorphology

  • Beach sustainability
  • Assessing and mapping coastal vulnerability
  • Rock coast erosion dynamics (cliffs, shore platforms, boulder transport)

Palaeoflood hydrology

  • Extending flood records using evidence from floodplain environments
  • Holocene flood magnitudes and frequencies
  • Flooding, climate, and land use changes in the holocene
  • Holocene river development

Volcanology and igneous geochemistry

  • Petrology and geochemistry of volcanic sequences
  • Thermodynamics and modelling of magma recharge and mixing
  • Magmatic evolution of the palaeogene volcanic province in Scotland
  • Volcanic systems in Iceland and Tenerife

Geographic information systems

  • Geovisualization
  • Land system changes
  • Spatial modelling

Remote sensing

  • Urban poverty
  • Urban areas as biodiversity refuge

Mobility, migration, and trafficking

  • Human migration and mobility
  • Development
  • Modern slavery, human trafficking, labour exploitation, unfreedom
  • Geographies of escape, subversion, resistance, turbulence

Natural hazards, their causes, effects, and mitigation

  • Disaster management
  • Risk reduction
  • Reconstruction and rebuild
  • Resilience

UN sustainable developments goals

  • UN land degradation neutrality
  • Gender equality
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Reduced inequalities