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  Political ecology of unconventional water in the Global South

   Cardiff School of Geography and Planning

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  Dr Joe Williams  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Cardiff University School of Geography and Planning invites applications for a fully-funded PhD Studentship, available to start in October 2024. The successful applicant will have the scope to develop an independent project on the social and political dimensions of the transition to unconventional water in one or more contexts in the Global South.

 Traditional water resources, such as terrestrial surface water and groundwater are under increasing pressure from the combined challenges of growing demand, over-extraction, urbanization, pollution and climate change. This is driving growing interest in developing new or alternative water resources, including seawater desalination, brackish groundwater desalination and wastewater recycling. These unconventional water resources now represent a major new frontier of water resources, but are also associated with new challenges, particularly around their implications for just and sustainable access to water. The use of high-technology infrastructure to exploit new water has become well-established over the last two decades in countries such as Spain, the USA, Singapore, Australia, Israel and the oil-rich countries of the Arabian Gulf. Recent years, however, have seen a more rapid emergence of these infrastructures in the Global South. Unconventional water is seen by many as a game-changer in water governance, but we know very little about what this transition will mean in contexts that have historically not had universal basic access to networked water supply. The PhD will contribute to a wider research project led by Dr. Joe Williams, funded by the ERC/UKRI.


You will have a First Class or strong Second Class Honours degree, or an appropriate Masters degree, in human geography/social sciences or cognate discipline. The studentship is available to home and international students.

 Cardiff University are committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.


The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr. Joe Williams and one other member of academic staff. Applicants may wish to indicate potential co-supervisors in their cover letter.

How to apply

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study depending on the needs of the applicant. Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Geography and Planning using the following link:

 Please apply for the programme Doctor of Philosophy and enter a start date of October 2024. Select whether your application is for full-time or part-time study. Enter the title of this Studentship in the funding section. The closing deadline for applications is 3rd April 2024.

Your application should contain the following:

1. Covering letter (two pages maximum). Set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University; your understanding and expectations of doctoral study; your academic interests generally, and particularly of those relating to your proposed research.

2. Academic / Professional Qualifications. Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).

3. Academic CV (two pages maximum).

4. Research Proposal (maximum 1,000 words excluding bibliographic references). Referring to the context of the study your proposal should outline your intended contribution to research on unconventional water and the project summarised above. We suggest that you structure the proposal using the following headings:

- aims and purpose of the research (including research objectives and research questions);

- critical overview of the academic literature relevant to the field;

- proposed methodology (we accept this will not be highly detailed), identifying one or more potential case studies;

- academic contributions of your research.

5. References. Two academic references. Applicants must approach referees themselves and include references with their application. 

 Further information

This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team ([Email Address Removed]). For further details about the studentship or to discuss your application, contact Dr. Joe Williams ([Email Address Removed]).

Geography (17)

Funding Notes

Studentship awards commence in October 2024 and will cover your tuition fees, a maintenance grant (currently £18,622 per year), and access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). The award also includes a generous budget for fieldwork and conference attendance.

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