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Dùthchas: locating and nourishing cultural roots of Scotland's land reform revolution

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, January 21, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Wanted - exceptional doctoral candidates to undertake trailblazing, transformative research alongside outstanding early-career researchers.

Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship.

This doctoral (PhD) project has been devised and developed by a leading early-career researcher at Coventry University. The Trailblazer Scheme provides doctoral researchers with an innovative and dynamic intellectual space in which to undertake transformative research, whilst fully supported by a team of experienced supervisors.

The studentship will commence in either May or September 2020, depending on availability of the successful applicant.

Details of the PhD project:

This research will investigate the cultural and historical roots of Scotland’s contemporary community-led land reform revolution. Over the last twenty-five years half-a-million acres of land have become community owned, mainly in the country's Gaelic-speaking Highlands. This revolution has helped reverse population decline, create jobs and develop local economies, in an area previously considered to need externally-led policy interventions. Cultural heritage and Gaelic language have been central to this transformation. In particular, local development projects have repeatedly focused around dùthchas, a Gaelic concept of the relationship between people and place. One project argued dùthchas 'speaks of strong, united, self-sufficient communities who actively look after their people, their heritage and their environment ... the essence of sustainability'. However, although dùthchas was invoked historically during resistance to Highland Clearances, the historical record has not been systematically assessed to understand what dùthchas has meant for generations of Gaelic speakers, and its role in helping them to make sense of their world and engage in land-based revolutions. The project addresses this lacuna, returning dùthchas to communities for which it has been a binding force and with potential to disclose international alignments with politically activated land-based traditions of other historically marginalised groups such as Maori and First Nations.


Academic Environment - Coventry University has been the UK’s top modern university for seven consecutive years (Guardian University Guide 2013-2019) and holds a number of other prestigious accolades. Established in 2014 through substantial university investment, the Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience (CAWR) is rapidly building a global reputation for transdisciplinary research into processes of resilience in social-ecological systems. Among its key lines of research is work focusing on modelling of water and food systems, aided by high performance computing facilities.

Training and Development - The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Candidate specification:

• A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average PLUS the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
• a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

For further details see:

Additional items for candidate specification:

• Gaelic speaker preferable
• driving license essential
• Experience and/or knowledge of community development and/or land reform in Scotland desirable

How to apply:

To find out more about the project please contact Iain MacKinnon at or 07557425308

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Funding Notes

This is a full studentship, which includes tuition fees and living expenses for a doctoral candidate over 3.5 years.

Stipend rates set by UKRI with an annual projected average increase of 1.25% per year. Stipend for the first year will be £15,009

An additional £4,500 has been allocated for fieldwork, training and conference attendance. The successful candidate will also receive an allowance of £500 per annum for professional expenses.

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