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PhD Opportunities

QUADRAT DTP: Understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of global peatland fire

School of Natural and Built Environment | PHD

Applications are now CLOSED
Funding
Funded
Reference Number
NBE/2021/GEO4
Application Deadline
18 January 2021
Start Date
1 October 2021

Overview

Peatlands are globally-important ecosystems, representing >30% of the global soil organic C pool. They provide key ecosystem services including drinking water, climate regulation through C storage, and food resources (e.g. fruit and fish). Peatlands often also contain important archives of past climatic and environmental change. Globally, peatlands contain stored carbon (C) "equivalent to the amount that would be emitted to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels at the 2007 annual global rate for the next 75 years". Peatlands are uniquely threatened by widespread drainage and climate change. However, one of the greatest threats to peatland ecosystems, and the C they store is fire. Surprisingly, peatlands are among the most flammable ecosystems in the world. Peatland fires are increasing in frequency and severity at an alarming rate across the globe. Extensive peat fires in Asia (e.g. the 1997 and 2019 mega-fires in Indonesia) have recently featured in the international press because they have released large quantities of greenhouse gases and caused major air pollution events with subsequent impacts on human health. In addition, peat fires are occurring more frequently in many regions, including in Arctic tundra environments including Siberia and Greenland [1]. As the return interval shortened and intensity of these fires rises, the deeper layers of peat may become increasingly vulnerable to burning [2], and the fire severity may cross thresholds of ecosystem non-recovery. The rising vulnerability of global peatlands to fire under a warming climate and increased human impacts is highly concerning. Some authors have suggested that fire will even cause some peatlands to shift from a sink to a source of carbon [3].

There is an urgent need to improve current understanding of fire in global peatlands and to examine its spatio-temporal variability. This project will quantify the long-term dynamic of peatland fire at the biome and global scale and how peatland fires have responded to climate change and human impacts through time. This work will establish baselines for fire in peatlands across different ecosystem types and biomes through analysis of charcoal data.

The project will involve the generation of new primary charcoal data from peatlands, in addition to a large meta-analysis of existing data at the global scale. The project has particular relevance for (1) research groups making projections of future climate change, based on future projections of GHG emissions; (2) local people relying on these environments for water and food resources; and (3) policy makers/advisors seeking to manage peatlands as C stores and habitats.

Hypotheses to be tested:
(H1) Peatland fires have increased over the last ~100 years;
(H2) Peatland wildfire in the Northern Hemisphere has expanded northwards over the last ~100 years;
(H3) The temporal pattern of peatland wildfires during the pre-industrial Holocene broadly reflect natural Holocene climate variability;
(H4) Tropical peatlands are not significantly affected by natural (non-anthropogenic) wildfires;
(H5) Tundra peatlands are not significantly affected by natural (non-anthropogenic) wildfires.

The student will be provided with research training in laboratory analysis, peatland ecology and palaeoecology, GIS, Programming using R, fieldwork, database construction and management, and academic publishing. More project details are available here: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/projects/understanding-the-spatio-temporal-dynamics-of-global-peatland-fire/

How to apply: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/how-to-apply/

Funding Information

QUADRAT studentships are open to UK and international candidates (EU and non-EU). Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend/research & training support grant only.

Before applying please check full funding and eligibility information: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/funding-and-eligibility/

Project Summary
Supervisor
Professor Graeme Swindles
Mode of Study

Full-time: 3.5 years


Funding Body
NERC QUADRAT DTP
Apply now Register your interest

Geography overview

The research undertaken within Geography falls under two interdisciplinary Research Clusters; Environmental Change & Resilience (ECR) and Culture & Society (C&S).

Physical Geography-related projects focus on themes such as long-term landscape and environmental change, resilience of ecosystems, environmental change impacts on heritage structures, and analysis of contaminated lands. Investigative approaches include a range of geo-spatial technologies such as remote sensing, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), big data analysis and spatial and temporal modelling. Much of our research spans several disciplines, for example projects on the hydrogeology and restoration of bogs, climate change implications for resilience and stability of soil, geoforensics and coastal geomorphology. Funding opportunities to pursue these lines of research are available, including the doctoral training partnership, QUADRAT. Further details are available here: www.quadrat.ac.uk

The C&S cluster focuses on a number of themes, both historical and contemporary, which consider the relationships between human society, spatiality and culture. Two doctoral training partnerships provide relevant funding opportunities for research in these areas: NINE-DTP www.ninedtp.ac.uk and Northern Bridge Consortium www.northernbridge.ac.uk Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to make contact with potential supervisors during the autumn semester.

The four main research themes are:

The Geographies of Knowledge:
Research is focused on the geographies of knowledge, with particular emphasis on the cultures of science. The cluster has expertise on the relationships between science, race and religion since 1650; the historical geographies of scientific knowledge; the cultures of botanic gardens in the age of empire; the reception of Darwinism; the role of climate in debates about human cultures; the geopolitics of apocalyptic thought, and the ways in which cultures of science, technology and outer space are connected to questions of place, landscape and identity in the twentieth century.

Landscapes, Critical Cartography and GIS:
Research consists of quantitative spatial analyses of socio-economic data and qualitative cultural analyses of landscapes and cartographic knowledge from the medieval to the modern period. Critical cartographic/GIS techniques have been deployed to interrogate the veracity of the knowledge universe of the map, while digitally-translated documentary data have been used to re-configure our understanding of medieval urbanism and agrarian economies, as well as the spatial dynamics of religion and the politics of cartographic rhetoric.

Political Geography:
Research is focused on nationalism and regional conflict; critical geopolitics of religion; monumental landscapes and the politics of memory; international relations in a globalised world; colonial and postcolonial geographies of India; the processes of border making, geographies of embodiment and the securitisation of public spaces. This work has been carried out from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

The Population Dynamics of Contemporary Societies:
Research is focused on the population dynamics of contemporary societies and includes census analysis; research on travel to work; employability and labour markets; as well as social and religious segregation particularly in divided cities such as Belfast; the study of borders and external migration.

Mode of study / duration
Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD (or part-time equivalent).

Geography Highlights
Career Development
  • Geography at Queen’s has a long-standing record of inter-disciplinary approaches to understanding the relationship between humans and their natural and cultural environments. Our graduates are equipped with high levels of expertise relevant to some of the leading challenges faced by the world today.

    In addition to support from expert staff in Geography, the University’s flagship Graduate School provides postgraduate students with a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary hub to support their personal and professional development.

    QUB’s Researcher Plus scheme provides PhD students with an opportunity to develop skills which are transferable beyond their research degrees, and the Researcher Plus award provides them with official recognition for the skills acquired in addition to their research.
  • Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in educational practice, the public sector or within NGO’s. For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team on askEPS@qub.ac.uk. Our advisors – in consultation with the School – will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.
World Class Facilities
  • Geography hosts three QUB research centres, the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis, the Centre for Canadian Studies and the Centre for GIS and Geomatics. Strong links exist between physical geography and the QUB Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology (14C Chrono )and with the School of Biological Sciences. Human geography has significant and extensive links with the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics (HAPP) and a number of staff are Fellows of the University's Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

    The University's Core Technology Units (CTUs) provide researchers and graduate students with high-quality training in advanced laboratory techniques and access to state-of-the-art equipment. The Advanced Informatics unit helps us to maintain a comprehensive and systematic data management framework for our research data.

    The University’s McClay Library brings together wide-ranging library, computing and media services in a single location, blending the best features of a traditional library with the latest technology and provides state-of-the-art study facilities.
Key Facts

Geography at Queens is in the Top 200 in the World QS Rankings (2020).

  • Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in relation to the wide range of research activities undertaken within the School and there are many resources available including:
  • Access to the Queen’s University Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme.
  • Office accommodation with access to computing facilities and support to attend conferences for full-time PhD students.
  • Access to the research infrastructure is provided by the School's range of Research Centres and laboratory facilities and by the University’s Core Technology Units.
  • A Geography research seminar series and 'lunch and learn' feedback sessions.
Brexit Advice

Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

Course content

Research Information

Associated Research
Both research clusters attract funding from a range of sources including; NERC, EPSRC, ESRC; AHRC, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, and JISC. The clusters have developed an international reputation in the themes identified in the overview as demonstrated by an impressive record of scholarly monographs and publishing agenda-setting articles that have informed and influenced research directions within the wider discipline of Geography.
The cluster's research themes are carried out over a wide range of different geographical contexts and from the Medieval period to the present. Current research is focused on the UK, Ireland, Korea, Italy, Israel/Palestine, the Balkans, USA, Canada, Burma, and India.
There are strong connections with cognate disciplines in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in addition to cross-faculty supervision of a number of PhD projects.

Career Prospects

Introduction
For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team on askEPS@qub.ac.uk. Our advisors - in consultation with the School - will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.

People teaching you

Dr Alastair Ruffell
Reader
Natural and Built Environment
a.ruffell@qub.ac.uk

Dr Andrew Newton
NERC Fellowship
Natural and Built Environment
A.Newton@qub.ac.uk

Dr Diarmid Finnegan
Head of Geography
Natural and Built Environment
https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/NBE/Research/find-a-phd-supervisor/dr-diarmid-finnegan.html

Dr Donal Mullan
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
D.Mullan@qub.ac.uk

Dr Gemma Catney
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
g.catney@qub.ac.uk

Dr Helen Roe
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
h.roe@qub.ac.uk

Dr Ian Shuttleworth
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
I.Shuttleworth@qub.ac.uk

Dr M Satish Kumar
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
s.kumar@qub.ac.uk

Dr Merav Amir
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
m.amir@qub.ac.uk

Dr Oliver Dunnett
Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
o.dunnett@qub.ac.uk

Dr Paul S Ell
Senior Research Fellow
Natural and Built Environment
Paul.Ell@qub.ac.uk

Dr Rory Flood
Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
r.flood@qub.ac.uk

Dr Tristan Sturm
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
T.Sturm@qub.ac.uk

Professor Christopher Lloyd
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
c.lloyd@qub.ac.uk

Professor David N Livingstone
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
D.Livingstone@qub.ac.uk

Professor Graeme Swindles
Professor of Physical Geography
Natural and Built Environment
https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/NBE/Research/find-a-phd-supervisor/professor-graeme-swindles.html

Professor Jennifer McKinley
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
j.mckinley@qub.ac.uk

Professor Keith Lilley
Director of Research, Culture & Society Cluster
Natural and Built Environment
https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/NBE/Research/find-a-phd-supervisor/professor-keith-d-lilley.html

Professor Nuala Johnson
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
n.johnson@qub.ac.uk

Learning Outcomes

A research degree offers students an opportunity to foster their capacity for independent research and critical thought. It also allows students to explore an area of interest and so understand and solve theoretical and practical problems within the field.

Undertaking a research degree also enhances a student’s written and oral communication skills, and a PhD is almost always a formal requirement for an academic post.

Course structure

A PhD is awarded for original research in a topic chosen by the student. PhD studies may be undertaken on a full (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis.

Research students are appointed a primary and secondary supervisor who will guide them through their research, supported by an independent panel reviewing students’ progress.

This independent research is complemented by programmes of training, provided both by the School of Natural and Built Environment and by Queen’s Graduate School, which is housed in a beautiful converted building just minutes from the Geography Building.

Assessment

Assessment processes for a research degree differ from taught degrees. Students will be expected to present drafts of their work at regular intervals to their supervisor who will provide written and oral feedback; a formal assessment process takes place annually.

This Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.

The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.

Feedback

Supervisors will offer feedback on draft work at regular intervals throughout the period of registration on the degree.

Entrance requirements

Graduate
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,500
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,500
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,500
EU Other 3 £22,000
International £22,000

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Geography costs

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

How do I fund my study?
1.PhD Opportunities

Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.

2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes

We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.

3.PhD loans

The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students, £10,000 for students in Scotland and up to £5,500 for Northern Ireland students.

4.International Scholarships

Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.

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How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal go.qub.ac.uk/pgapply and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Find a supervisor

If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.

To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.

You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.