Self-funded PhD opportunities

Assessing and improving current landslide mapping and response capabilities, from academia to communities.

  • Application end date: Applications open all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Carmen Solana, Dr Richard Teeuw, Dr Jessica Roberts

Project code: SEES4471018

Project description

Landslides are a persistent threat to human lives, activities and infrastructure. On September 18, 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Maria’s eye crossed the small island of Dominica in the Caribbean, leaving unprecedented destruction on its path: 100% crop loss, 90% damage to dwellings and all utilities severed. Crucially, although the main airport was still operational, the delivery of emergency aid was jeopardised by the collapse and burial of the roads connecting it to the rest of the island by landslides.

A pre-Maria detailed landslide susceptibility map existed for Dominica but either: 1) failed to identified high risk areas, 2) did not convey the information in an efficient, easily understandable manner or 3) the authorities did not act upon the information.

We propose to investigate the worldwide, persistent problem of managing rainfall induced landslides in vulnerable small island states, using the case study of Dominica, WI. This will be achieved through:

1- Assessing the accuracy of the published landslide map- through a comparison of predicted highly unstable areas with actual failures after both, 2015 TS Erica and 2017 Cat 5 Maria. This will utilise field mapping as well as freely available satellite remote sensing data and ground truthing techniques.
2- Testing of low cost sensors and techniques to monitor slope movement.
3- Evaluation of local stakeholders’ understanding of the information provided by landslide hazard maps as well as its usefulness- through interviews and questionnaires with local emergency managers, planners, NGOs and other stakeholders.

The project will generate good practice guidelines for improved response to landslides and will be published and disseminated as OA Research Papers and also as an online manual freely available through the departmental website. The results will set the basis for a larger project evaluating the understanding and usefulness of maps on Disaster Risk Reduction in different countries.

For this project we seek to recruit a EU/UK student with a Geohazards/Earth Sciences/Physical Geography background, knowledge of remote sensing techniques and with a commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction.

Supervisor profiles

Dr Carmen Solana

Dr Richard Teeuw

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.  


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Carmen Solana at (02392 842394), or Dr Richard Teeuw at (02392 842267)

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at  You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

When applying, please quote project code: SEES4471018

Interview date: TBC

Start date: October 2018.

Funding notes

This is self-funded project, for infomration on fees and funding, please see our webpages.

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