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Holy Wells, Springs, and Water Cures (‘Imagining Water’)

   Energy and Environment Institute

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  Dr Catherine Wynne, Dr Kate Smith  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD scholarship is offered by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Centre for Water Cultures, 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.

For more information visit the University of Hull website. Or if you have a direct question about the project, please email [Email Address Removed] rather than contacting the supervisor directly. This is to support our inclusive recruitment practices (please see ‘How to apply’ on the University of Hull website for more information). Our Water Cultures Professional Services Team will liaise with Supervisors and ensure you receive responses to your queries.

Holy wells and springs form part of the rich cultural heritage of the British and Irish Isles. The aim of this project, which includes field work at wells and springs in the UK and Ireland, is to explore the culture and cultural ‘imaginings’ of wells and springs in two or more countries in the British and Irish Isles (Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland) from the nineteenth century to the contemporary.

The project explores the literary, visual (and architectural) accounts of wells from nineteenth and into the twenty-first century. It includes fieldwork, archival exploration, contemporary recordings and data by communities and government (heritage and environmental) agencies to think about how communities and cultures across the British Isles have engaged with, and continue to engage with, as well as curate these sites. 

Combining fieldwork with existing scholarship into the folklore and contemporary usage of these watery intrusions into the landscape will allow the researcher to make unique and useful contributions to current discourses about community engagement with water – both in abundance and scarcity – and covers important new ground in refocussing the environmental humanities on everyday cultural expressions of how people live with water in the landscape.


Watch this recording of our recent webinar, for more information about the funded projects available through the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures. You will be able to hear an introduction to the Centre, to the individual projects from the lead supervisors, as well as the Q&A.

Entry Requirements

You should have a good undergraduate degree (at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent) in Humanities, Geography or related disciplines.

A Masters in a relevant subject is desirable, but not essential.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language competency. Information on the tests that we accept can be found on the University of Hull website.

How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull online portal. Detailed instructions on how to apply are given on the University of Hull website. Please note, you must also download a Supplementary Application form, complete and submit it as part of the online application.


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.

Applicants already holding a PhD (or equivalent qualification) will not typically be considered as eligible for a Centre for Water Cultures scholarship. Applicants in this position wishing to apply must make a compelling case for their motivations in their completed supplementary application form.

Funding Notes

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 £17,668 per year (2022/23 rate), and a research and training support grant.
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