Moving stories: narrating change along the shorelines of Spurn


Funded PhD


4 years

Application deadline:

Monday 31 January 2022

About this project

Applications are invited for a funded interdisciplinary PhD scholarship drawing upon the research methodologies of Literature and Marine Science to investigate the narratives of Spurn, and understand the interrelation of coastal ecology, communities and cultures.

Spurn is a narrow sandy spit between the North Sea and the Humber Estuary, and is a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust National Nature Reserve. It is also a palimpsest upon which the stories of Spurn’s exposure to the elements and humanity have been written, in places retained and partially erased. Spurn is a land-sea border in flux and its recent transformation from peninsula to tidal island is a semantic as well as physical shift which reflects the different meanings Spurn has for different writers. Reclaimed as a remote, inaccessible site, recent scholarship acknowledges its persistence as one enduringly connected to studies of the environment and our place in it (de Smalen, 2019). This interdisciplinary project draws upon the research methodologies of Literature and Marine Science to investigate the narratives of Spurn, and understand the interrelation of coastal ecology, communities and cultures. This project will explore the evolving ecological and textual history of Spurn, and draw upon literary and auto/biographical perspectives largely written post-1700 which evoke this everchanging environment. According to the principle that the ‘lexis of landscape is not nostalgic, but urgent’ (Macfarlane, 2015), a project with scope to recover lost or as yet unheard stories inspired by Spurn and its environs can inform humanity’s ongoing relationship with everchanging shorelines. Spurn is unique but it is also dynamic, and this project will discover how the moving stories of this place have a broader application in shaping how we adapt to coastal erosion and estuarine living elsewhere in the UK and across the globe. This project involves an internship with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Anna Fitzer.

Or for more information, watch a recording of a webinar held on 7 December 2021. You'll hear from programme leaders, supervisors, and students talking about funded postgraduate research at the Leverhulme DSC for Water Cultures as well as queries from other applicants in the Q&A.


About the research cluster

The University of Hull Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures is an interdisciplinary research centre exploring humanity’s relationships with water in the green-blue regions of the world, past, present and future.

It pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area – the green-blue humanities – and equips a new generation of PhD students to take this agenda forward and transform our understanding of humanity's relationships with water.


Other PhDs in this cluster


Gendered Survival: Women and Water Crises in Southern Africa

Maritime quarantine and transatlantic slavery

Shakespeare's Mediterranean Water Cultures

Swirling Dust—River Rising’: A Comparative Analysis of Drought and Flooding in 1930s American Documentary Photography and Film

You are only able to apply for one project with the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures.

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

Watch the video


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 (2021/22 rate), and a research and training support grant.


Submission of thesis


Submission of your final thesis is expected within 48 months from the start of your PhD scholarship.

Entry requirements

You should have a good first degree (at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent) in a relevant subject. A Masters in a relevant subject is desirable, but not essential.

Research Training

The Centre for Water Cultures offers an unrivalled doctoral training scheme designed to promote open-minded and outward-facing researchers, ready to collaborate across disciplines, and to partner with industry and other non-academic organisations, in the search for innovative solutions to today’s water challenges. Doctoral scholars will benefit from a dedicated placement scheme with opportunities to undertake placements of 1-3 months with one of our range of national and international water, heritage, and creative industry partners, designed to develop the career ambitions of our scholars within and beyond academia. They will benefit from a dedicated programme of invited talks, masterclasses, and workshops delivered by speakers from academia and industry. They will also receive bespoke support for career development before and beyond graduation, delivered by our interdisciplinary teams of supervisors and via our mentoring programme, which offers one-to-one support for professional and career development.

The University of Hull is uniquely positioned to deliver doctoral research training in the green-blue humanities. No other UK university offers Hull’s combination of an international reputation in water research, significant expertise and experience in community engagement and cultural sector evaluation (gained as Hull UK City of Culture’s principal research partner), along with a rich maritime history and long experience living with complex water challenges.

The Centre for Water Cultures is housed in Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute (EEI), a world leader in research into global water risks and resilience, including in relation to climate change, flooding, marine pollution and toxic water, and home to state of the art research facilities including the Total Environment Simulator (TES), experimental research flumes and high-performance computing running sophisticated hydro models. Doctoral Scholars at the Centre for Water Cultures will benefit from access to the EEI’s facilities and research environment, and from world-class expertise in water-related research in the arts, humanities, social, physical, and health sciences at Hull.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Research Training, in addition to their research degree. More information.

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


You will need to complete this Centre for Water Cultures Supplementary Application Form which you can download here and upload your completed form, alongside the other supporting documents requested below.

As part of our inclusive practices, the Centre for Water Cultures adopts a process of assessing applications purely based on skills and attributes and does not consider any personal details. As such we ask applicants to remove any personal details from the Supplementary Form which is used by the Panel to assess and select applicants for interview. The form asks for details of your education, training and employment history as well as some specific questions about your motivations and research experience and interests. It is very important that you do not include any personally identifying information such as name, age, gender, nationality, geographic location etc.

To complete your application, you should upload the following documents:


Apply Now


Apply for this scholarship

Closing date for applications

Monday 31 January 2022


Interviews will take place during the week commencing 7 March 2022