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  Biodiversity gains in churchyards as a microcosm for UK biodiversity gains


   Department of Archaeology

  , , Dr Julie Rugg, Dr Kate Giles  Sunday, May 19, 2024  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Primary Supervisor: Prof Colin Beale (Department of Biology)

Co-Supervisors: Prof Victoria Wells & Dr Julie Rugg (School for Business and Society), Prof Kate Giles (Department of Archaeology, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture) 

Project title: Biodiversity gains in churchyards as a microcosm for UK biodiversity gains

Project Description: UK landscapes arise through complex interactions between ecology and culture. Realising biodiversity gains requires understanding how individuals and communities respond to change in valued socio-ecological systems. Churchyards are an acute example of this - a semi-public, highly valued cultural space, often shared with threatened species and habitats. Many churches are seeking to increase biodiversity in churchyards but, as ancient cultural landscapes valued by a wider community than just church members, change can be challenging. Using urban and rural churchyards, this project studies the perceptions and values of communities alongside the ecological benefits of churchyard biodiversity. This will elucidate strategies to engage and positively involve communities with multifaceted stakeholders in wider biodiversity promotion.

You will be based in the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB) at the University of York, supervised by Colin Beale, Victoria Wells, Julie Rugg and Kate Giles. Your project will involve:

  • Qualitative interviews with various stakeholders to understand perceptions and challenges associated with churchyard biodiversity gains.
  • Collation of ecological data from churchyards to quantify their biodiversity value and potential of sustainable churchyard management in England.

You will have an interdisciplinary outlook, an interest in biodiversity and a background in a relevant natural or social science subject. You will work with both qualitative and quantitative research methods and you will develop interviewing skills. You will be supported in making connections in the chosen case study locations.

LCAB provides opportunities to interact with students and researchers across departments and institutions, and will offer additional training as required. 

Funding Notes:

This studentship covers UK fees for 4 years and a tax-free stipend to match the UKRI’s minimum rate for 2024/25 for 3.5 years. 

Entry requirements: 

Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this research project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the project.

Eligibility: 

To qualify for UK (home) fee status, students must be from the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) or Islands (Channel Islands and Isle of Man) and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the past three years. 

Interviews: June 2024


Biological Sciences (4) Geography (17)

Funding Notes

This studentship covers UK fees for 4 years and a tax-free stipend to match the UKRI’s minimum rate for 2024/25 for 3.5 years.

Register your interest for this project



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