Choppy sea

Living on the Edge: Surviving and thriving in the Holocene Humberhead Levels

Funding:

Funded Phd

Duration:

4 years

Application deadline:

29 March 2021

About the Leverhulme Centre for Water Cultures

The University of Hull's Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area, the ‘green-blue humanities.’

It equips a new generation of PhD students to take this agenda forward, transforming our understanding of our relationships with water and shaping future research agendas, methods, and approaches within and between disciplines.

Join our webinar – Thursday 11 March 2021

We are hosting a free webinar to help you find out more about funded postgraduate research at the Leverhulme Centre for Water Cultures. Join us to hear from programme leaders, supervisors, students and researchers and ask any burning questions at the Q&A. Register here


About this project

This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious, talented and enthusiastic researcher to conduct interdisciplinary research in order to advance thinking within the area of blue-green humanities through exploring how human attitudes to, and use of, wetland landscapes have changed over time, influencing and influenced by culture and economic practices.

Communities dwelling in areas with extensive wetlands, such as the Humberhead Levels, have always had a complex relationship with the sodden and soggy parts of their landscape. These landscapes were often dangerous – difficult to cross, hazardous for humans and wildlife, home to ‘monsters’, and on occasion, subject to crop and home-destroying floods. Yet the watery margins of the land also yielded important resources, including food, building materials, fuel, pasturage, as well as being sites of religious and social significance. By the early modern period, many of these landscapes were viewed as unproductive “wastelands” and extensive drainage and enclosure schemes transformed many such areas into arable farmland. Today, in the face of an increasingly uncertain climate, society is rediscovering that many of these areas are at increased risk of flooding, a realisation that is coupled with a growing understanding of the role wetlands play in ecosystem service provision (e.g. carbon storage, flood mitigation, biodiversity services).

Using case studies within the Humberhead Levels, this project will explore how human attitudes to, and use of, wetland landscapes have changed over time, influencing and influenced by culture and economic practices. It will use multiple methods – including as appropriate: historical research, archaeological investigations, GIS, sedimentary analysis, and landcover reconstruction modelling – to reconstruct changing experiences of ‘living on the edge’. Research will be shaped by the successful candidate, but could include:

  • Using a historical (documentary-led) approach to explore changing resource use and attitudes to wetlands before and after the major drainage of the area in 1693;
  • Using a palaeoecological and archaeological approach to reconstruct the impact of wetland-dryland boundary changes on local populations during the last major wetland expansion (c. 6000-3000 years ago);
  • Sharing narratives of change with stakeholders and jointly exploring their relevance in imagining what the future looks like for these ‘green-blue’ landscapes.

This project will make use of the resources and relationships built up by the Reconstructing the Wildscapes project and the PGR will have opportunities to collaborate with the Wildscapes Project Team as well as colleagues at the University of Hull. The project offers an excellent opportunity for the selected PGR to develop an unusually broad skillset.

The Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area, the ‘green-blue humanities’

Find out more

The Energy & Environment Institute is a world leader in research into global water risks and resilience

Find out more

The University’s Risky Cities project draws on Hull’s long history of living with water to build flood resilience today and for the future

Find out more

Funding

Doctoral scholars appointed to interdisciplinary projects within the Centre for Water Cultures will be supported by PhD scholarships, funded for 48 months. These cover fees at the UK rate, a maintenance grant of £15609 per year, and a generous research and training support grant.

We expect to support at least 5, and up to 8, doctoral scholars to join the Centre for Water Cultures in September 2021. Further projects will be advertised in future years.

Entry requirements

We welcome applications for this funded 4-year PhD studentship, to start in September 2021.

A background in History, Geography or Archaeology would be preferred. You should have a good first degree (at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.

International applicants

The Centre for Water Cultures welcomes applications from international candidates.

While the Leverhulme Trust funds fees at the UK rate, we are able to offer a limited number of international fee waivers to support EU and international applicants. These are likely to be attached to no more than 30% of our scholarships.

How to apply

Please follow the instructions on how to apply carefully as otherwise your application may not be considered.

Apply for the project Living on the Edge: Surviving and thriving in the Holocene Humberhead Levels.

You will need to provide the following supporting documents:

  1. CV of no more than 2 pages (Arial, minimum font 11 point, margins 2.54cm).
  2. Transcripts. (A transcript is proof of education. It is a detailed record of all the subjects you have studied with your scores in the form of marks or grades given by your institution of study.)
  3. Personal Statement: Please provide a personal statement, of no more than 800 words (Arial, minimum font 11 point, margins 2.54cm), outlining: (i) what motivates you to pursue PhD study; (ii) why you are interested in your chosen project; (iii) your research experience, including how your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need; and (iv) the wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.
  4. English Language qualifications where required. For more information, see our PG admissions page.