Choppy sea

The Cultural Production of Flood Injustices


Funded Phd


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 identifying and exploring the roles of culture and history in shaping historical flood attitudes and behaviours.

Flooding is an urgent societal problem estimated to affect 160 million people a year. By 2050, an estimated 2 billion people will be vulnerable to flood disasters, and hundreds of millions of others will likely be displaced by water shocks and stresses (UN, 2004; Global Water Institute, 2013). Coastal, estuarine and delta populations are particularly vulnerable and are facing an increasingly uncertain future.

Within both academic and policy circles, there is a growing emphasis on pursuing flood resilience and its narrative of ‘surviving and thriving’. Yet not everyone is able to ‘survive and thrive’ equally (Forrest et al., 2020). Some people and communities have greater vulnerabilities and lower capacity to manage their flood risk compared with others, leading to what researchers have called ‘flood injustices’.

While discussion about justice in Flood Risk Management (FRM) are starting to appear in the academic literature (e.g. Thaler and Hartmann, 2016; Kaufman et al., 2018), the role of culture has to date received minimal investigation and exploration. Cultural aspects reflect the lived experiences of flooding and are important in shaping the people, places, and policies that can, over time, contribute to the production of ‘flood injustices’.

This interdisciplinary PhD project grapples with these important issues in order to identify and explore the roles of culture and history in shaping historical flood attitudes and behaviour that lead to present-day flood injustices. The project will offer international comparative research, focusing on three cities with long histories of FRM practices. Case study cities might include Hull (UK), Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and/or other appropriate global locations. Methods will include historical research to understand attitudes to flooding and how they shaped people, places, and policies in the past, as well as document analysis, surveys and interviews incorporating participatory approaches.

Crucially, by growing our understandings of the importance of culture in producing flood injustices, we can support policymakers in addressing these underlying vulnerabilities. This has implications not only for those currently at flood risk, but also for future generations living and working in flood-prone areas.

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

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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

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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.

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

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 The Cultural Production of Flood Injustices.

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.