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  Understanding long-term change in coastal resilience

   School of Geography and Environmental Science

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  Prof Craig Lambert  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Leverhulme PhD programme is administered by the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences. This particular project will sit under the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Globally soft coastlines represent major regions of population and biodiversity. They are under threat from rapid environmental and population growth. To date, understanding of the resilience both environmental and community systems are based on short (<150yr) records. This research will combine long (600yr) sources of evidence found in documentary and sediment archives.  

Coastal erosion and flooding are natural processes and a global hazard threatening the property and livelihood of two billion people. Looking forward, the impacts of changes in climate are overwhelmingly adverse. In Europe, 16% of the coastline is crumbling, while in the UK 13% (4077km) of the coastline is eroding, threatening heritage, coastal communities and placing stress on national budget. The frequency of coastal flooding is forecast to increase, resulting in changes in national governments’ response to coastal management to include managed retreat or abandonment. 

There are important questions raised by the scale and timing of coastal settlement losses, most notably the impacts on local-regional-national and international trade, impact on shipping and the economic viability of communities living at the coast. This project seeks to address these questions through, in the first instance, a detailed analysis of specific coastal communities on the east coast of England, with the aim of developing a methodology for analysis and communication of coastal change and community response over 600 years, which coincides with the highest rates of coastal change and settlement loss in the last 900 years. The key innovative feature of the project is that it will correlate evidence drawn from historical documentary sources with data derived from palaeoenvironmental and geoarchaeological surveys. Historical sources offer precise dating and allow us to measure the social, cultural and economic impact of inundation, the latter permits us to precisely quantify the impacts and type of coastal change – for example establishing rates of change in surrounding landscape and coastal environments. 


You will need to have a 2:1 honours undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. If your grade was lower than 2:1 you can still apply, but your application and narrative CV should demonstrate progression since your degree.

If you have completed a master’s degree, you should have achieved a merit or above including 60% for the dissertation. If you have not completed a master’s, you’ll need to show you can produce high quality writing and analysis.


If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. Your awarded certificate needs to be dated within the last 2 years, and you’ll need all of the following scores as a minimum:

Overall 6.5

Writing 6.0

Reading 6.0

Speaking 6.0

Listening 6.0


  • Programme for Interdisciplinary Resilience Studies application document
  • Narrative résumé
  • Standardised CV
  • Academic transcripts/certificates
  • If a student-led application: research proposal document
  • Any other relevant documents (e.g., language certificate, etc)

Forensic and Archaeological Sciences (16) Geography (17) History & Archaeology (19)

Funding Notes

Up to six students will comprise each cohort. We will offer:
4 x studentship to UK (or UK-domiciled) students - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI base rates for maintenance and tuition
1 x studentship to an international student - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI maintenance and University international tuition rates

1 x “Master’s + PhD” studentship to an eligible UK (or UK-domiciled) student - fully funded for 60 months at UKRI maintenance and University tuition rates for: 12 months research master’s degree and 48 months PhD

Plus £10k (£2.5k per year) RTSG for the PhD programme.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography and Environmental Studies?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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