Invisible Work in the Climate Emergency (Ref: IDRT24/ADSS/GDEV/TALHOUK)

   Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences

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  Dr Reem Ratlhouk  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We welcome PhD proposals which identify and explore the forms of work communities and individuals undertake in building resilience in the context of the climate emergency in the global South. We are particularly interested in proposals that examine forms of work that go under the radar of existing policy thinking and research, such as unpaid labour, and the gendered dimensions of this. This could include the work of community adaptation, advocacy, activism and solidarity at different scales.

Work done in the face of climate has predominantly been viewed through lenses of rapid response, service delivery and state/donor capacities with a focus on formal work done by humanitarian employees and volunteers. Everyday work of communities and community members largely remains unrecognised, overlooking diverse contributions to resilience building over time, including domestic work (e.g. caring for family members), much of which is gendered, often uncompensated (Jordan, 2019) and framed as voluntary. In addition, despite the ubiquity and significance of voluntary labour in crisis policy and practice, evidence and theorisation are dominated by experiences in the Global North (Baillie Smith et al., 2021) and short-term and formally recognised voluntary work (Baillie Smith, 2022). We encourage applications that investigate the invisible work that is often overlooked within Global Development research, action and policy.

We particularly invite proposals that aim to explore invisible work in relation to climate and health challenges that are aligned to Northumbria University’s Global Development Futures Interdisciplinary Theme which engages in research centred on:

  1. Community Action & Innovation
  2. Mobilities and Displacement
  3. Climate, Crises and Disasters.

We encourage proposals to draw from multiple relevant disciplines– including but not limited to Geography, Business, Social Sciences, Design, Human-Computer Interaction and Law– and aim to adopt a Participatory Research approach to engaging with participants and stakeholders in the co-production of research and knowledge.

The successful candidate will join a thriving interdisciplinary global development research community working in a range of contexts across the global South.

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by academics affiliated with the Global Development Interdisciplinary Research Theme. Supervisors will be selected in conversations with the successful applicant. For informal queries, please contact Assistant Professor Reem Talhouk- [Email Address Removed]. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please contact Admissions at [Email Address Removed]. 

Eligibility Requirements:

  •  Academic excellence i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities with preference for 1st class honours); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

To be classed as a Home student, candidates must:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.  

Applicants must be fully enrolled in the UK before stipend payments can commence and cover any additional costs that may be incurred, as these are not covered by the studentship:

  • Immigration Health Surcharge
  • If you need to apply for a Student Visa to enter the UK, please refer to It is important that you read this information carefully as it is your responsibility to ensure that you hold the correct funds required for your visa application, otherwise your visa may be refused.
  • Costs associated with English Language requirements which may be required for students not having completed a first degree in English, will not be paid by the University.


In your application, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and the advert reference (e.g. RDF24/…).

Deadline for applications: 26 January 2024

Start date of course: 1 October 2024

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our postgraduate research students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Leader, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers and are members of the Euraxess initiative to deliver information and support to professional researchers.

Anthropology (2) Computer Science (8) Creative Arts & Design (9) Geography (17) Law (22) Nursing & Health (27) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2023/24 full-time study this is £18,622 per year) and full tuition fees. Studentships are also available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £11,173 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also see further advice on additional costs that may apply to international students.


Jordan, J. C. (2019). Deconstructing resilience: Why gender and power matter in responding to climate stress in Bangladesh. Climate and Development, 11(2), 167-179.
Baillie Smith, M., Thomas, N., & Hazeldine, S. (2021). Rethinking volunteering and cosmopolitanism: Beyond individual mobilities and personal transformations. Geopolitics, 26(5), 1353-1375.
Baillie Smith, M., Mills, S., Okech, M., & Fadel, B. (2022). Uneven geographies of youth volunteering in Uganda: Multi-scalar discourses and practices. Geoforum, 134, 30-39.
Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2008). Diverse economies: performative practices for other worlds'. Progress in human geography, 32(5), 613-632.

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