Self-funded PhD opportunities

Responding to and managing refugees’ flows: Between carceral and informal geographies

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: Department of Geography
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Diana Martin, Dr Carol Ekinsmyth and Dr Julia Brown

Project code: GEOG3781018

This project aims to investigate the different spaces (institutional and informal) produced by most recent migration flows and will address the gaps in the European management of the ‘crisis’. The research is situated within growing interest in the effects and impact of the present refugee ‘crisis’. In particular, it will investigate European states’ responses to increasing fluxes of migrants from both African and Asian continents by examining the different geographies that these flows produce.

More than a million migrants reached Europe seeking asylum in 2015 and many more are currently escaping war, oppression and dictatorial regime. Despite a moral obligation and responsibility to offer asylum and protection to those in need, European states’ responses have alternated reception and assistance with episodes of refoulement and erection of fences.

Indeed, the fear for the security of EU countries and the concern for potential lack of capacity and structures for what has been defined as an emergency have led the EU to establish so-called ‘hotspots’ alongside already existing reception centres in countries of first entry (Italy and Greece). The establishment of structures that receive, identify migrants and register their fingerprints, is part of a biopolitical move that aims at processing bodies and deciding on their fate distinguishing those in need of protection and those who can be abandoned (Agamben 1998).

Yet, the humanitarian crisis has become a crisis in the management of the arrivals, reception and registration process. The logic of emergency with which these fluxes have been handled in institutional centres has led to the emergence of other and very different geographies. Carceral regimes (such as administrative detention while migrants wait to be processed) are part of greater networks of refugee spaces as migrants are redistributed in other parts of the country of first entry while they wait for their asylum application to be processed, but also ‘dispersed’ and ‘abandoned’ if their asylum applications are rejected (among others see Garelli and Tazzioli 2016). The latter have often led to the production of informal settlements in the peripheries of cities and the production of makeshift camps such as, among others, Calais Jungle in France and Idomeni camp in Greece.

This research is part of a broader engagement within the Department of Geography with the lives and spaces of refugees. You will have a first or upper second class honours degree in geography or related subject and preferably a suitable Master level qualification.

Supervisor profiles

Dr Diana Martin

Dr Carol Ekinsmyth

Dr Julia Brown 

Entry requirements

Candidates must have a good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. Please see the Key Facts section on your preferred research degree page for basic entry requirements:


Informal enquiries are welcome and can be made to Dr Diana Martin on 02392 846489 ( or Dr Carol Ekinsmyth 02392 842474 (

Formal enquiries can be made to the faculty via the enquiry form on the subject specific pages.

How to apply

To apply, please submityour CV, a one-page letter of application, two references, copies of any relevant qualifications and evidence of IELTS if required.

All applications should use our standard online application form and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages:

When applying please note the project code – GEOG3781018

Funding notes

This PhD opportunity is available to self-funded students. Bench fees may apply. For more information please contact the project supervisor.