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Nature and Nation: from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to National Landscapes of Wales

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D B Clarke
    Dr P Gruffudd
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Swansea University and the Economic & Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Wales Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) are offering a fully-funded PhD studentship in collaboration with NAAONBs and CPRW.

As part of a wider re-evaluation of Wales’s landscapes in relation to sustainability, economy, and identity, the devolved Welsh Government has commissioned an independent panel to reconsider Designated Landscapes. Proposals include reclassifying Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as National Landscapes of Wales – retaining a distinction from National Parks whilst securing an integrated approach, including a unified approach to National Parks. Wales has the highest percentage of land-area covered by protective legislation of any UK nation, heightening the consequences of the post-devolution framing of landscape in relation to development and cultural integrity. The project examines contestations of proposed landscape-governance changes and the practical consequences of specific changes.

Research questions focus on the translation of new approaches into practice. In partnership with key stakeholders, the National Association for AONBs (NAAONBs) and Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), the project addresses (1) how a degree of convergence in the status of designated landscapes will operate in relation to policy and decision-making powers; (2) how objections from vested interests might manifest themselves (the MP for Gower, the UK’s first AONB, is spearheading a protest against redesignation, despite the move enjoying support from the Gower Society conservation interest group) and how resistance might be overcome in the wake of legislative change; (3) how UK-wide umbrella groups might adjust to redesignation.

The research design considers Wales in relation to other UK nations, offering comparative insight into responses to change. It will deploy a mixed-methods approach, including participant observation of organizational responses alongside semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and survey work. Access to key stakeholders will permit a unique close analysis of response to policy change. Given the visual dimension of landscape, it will also incorporate photo- and video-graphic documentation, whilst remaining sensitised to specifically Welsh conceptions of landscape as more than picturesque Romantic wildernesses.

Applicant requirements:
Candidates should have a Master’s degree in Human Geography or a related Social Science or cognate discipline.

Funding Notes

The full studentship covers the cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax-free stipend of £16,863 p.a.

There will also be an additional £450 per annum available for research expenses.

The studentship provides funding for up to 3 years. The successful candidate will be expected to commence their PhD on 1 October 2016.

How to apply:
Please visit our website for details:

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