Self-funded PhD opportunities

Historical perspectives of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: Department of Geography
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr L Cunningham

Research Project Code - GEOG1241015

The Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth has several positions for doctoral (PhD) research available for three years (full-time) for suitably qualified candidates to start in February or October 2016 (UK or EU students only). Applicants are invited to submit a research proposal in the area of past environmental change (including both past climate change and human impacts). 

Dr Laura Cunningham (see is interested in supervising focusing on historical perspectives of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems. 

We live in a constantly changing world shaped by a combination of natural processes and human impacts. Our knowledge of this world is restricted to the data available, however, such data is often only collected after a problem has been identified. Data stored within sediment archives enables us to reconstruct the historical conditions of a water body, and thus help determine whether specific changes are due to human influence or natural variability. Combining field sampling with manipulative studies and laboratory experiments enables the question of the driving mechansims to be further examined. Whilst research within this area is likely to focus on human activities over the past 100-200 years, there is also potential to examine records that extend over several millennia. There is also potential for joint projects with Dr Mark Hardiman such as paired peat and lake sediment records, the creation of multiproxy reconstructions or assessing early human influences on fire regimes. 

Staff web pages also provide more information on individual research interests and the specific projects that staff members have recently undertaken The department also advertises research themes for Masters projects (MRes Science) – see the pdf for Geography under Course structure at 

Applicants for the PhD programme are expected to have a good first degree (minimum upper second class Honours degree or equivalent) and ideally a Masters (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area. Non-accredited research and skills training is available through the University-wide Graduate School. If you so wish, you may discuss your ideas informally with Dr Laura Cunningham (tel: 02392 842513: e-mail: ) or We will also be happy to answer any questions regarding the application process. 

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpage:

When applying please note the project code - GEOG1241015

Alternatively you may receive a hard copy by contacting the Faculty of Science, Postgraduate Admissions Office, St. Michael's Building, White Swan Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2DT. Tel: +44 (0)23 9284 5550. 

Application Deadline: As appropriate 

Funding Notes:

Periodically, funded positions (including tuition and maintenance grant) become available, and when this is the case, it the funded positions will be advertised on this website. For other applications (welcome at any time) tuition fees will be payable for three years, full-time study (£3,996 per year – UK and EU students only).