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Geographical and Geological Research – Graduate Teaching PhD studentship

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.
  • 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.

“I have never known a postgraduate offering to be so focused on the development of their students. I’ve grown in skill, confidence and understanding of my research area!”

Giles Briscoe – PhD Postgraduate Researcher


Please direct all enquiries about proposed projects on topics related to geological and geographical research to Dr Joaquín Cortés, Graduate School research degree contact for geological and geographical research, by emailing [email protected] stating the specific research theme/s of interest from the research themes list.

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.

Natural hazards, their causes, effects, and mitigation

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

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.

Mobility, migration, and trafficking

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

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.

UN sustainable developments goals

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