Self-funded PhD opportunities

Past Wildfire Histories

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (EU/UK students only)
  • Department: Department of Geography
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr M Hardiman

Research Project Code - GEOG1291015

The Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth has a position for doctoral (phD) research available for three years (full-time) for a suitably qualified candidate to start in February or October 2016 (UK or EU students only). Applicants are invited to submit a research proposal in the area of Palaeo-environmental reconstruction. 

Dr Mark Hardiman (Lecturer in Physical Geography) and part of the Environmental Processes and Change Group (see is interested in supervising a student in the following research area: 

Past Wildfire Histories – There is an increasing interest in understanding the occurrence and frequency of wildfire events. This is particularly true of the potential role of fire in, and response to, abrupt geomorphic and climatic change. The desire to understand wildfire incidence has, in part, been driven by predictions of future climate change and, in particular, how this might alter the expression of fire in geographic regions where wildfire impact is currently limited (e.g. NW Europe). The best way to examine these changes is to study sediment archives containing past incidence of fire through periods of abrupt climate change e.g. the Last glacial to Interglacial transition. Potential projects include 1) production of high resolution macro and micro-charcoal palaeo-records to reconstruct past wildfire frequency during periods of abrupt climate change 2) study of charcoal preservation, transport and sedimentation in both ancient and modern geomorphic systems. Techniques that will be utilised in these projects include high and low-powered microscopy, analysis via Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), charring experiments and use of a sediment flume. There is also potential for reconstructing past environments studies in marine, lacustrine and peat bog archives using novel proxies in collaboration with Dr Laura Cunningham. 

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 Mark Hardiman (tel: 02392 842492: e-mail: ) or email 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 - GEOG1291015

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:

This is currently for self-funded applicants. Periodically, funded positions (including tuition and maintenance grant) become available, and when this is the case, 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).