School of Natural and Built Environment

Archaeology and Palaeoecology Studentships

Deadline for applications is 17 February 2017.  To be eligible for consideration for a DEL studentship (including a stipend of £14,296 and home /EU fees) candidate must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years (with no restrictions).  EU residents may be eligible for studentship covering fees-only.  Further details at:

For details of all funding opportunities, please click here and scroll down:


Research theme: 14C-based chronology of the Iberian Chalcolithic and Bronze Age sequence (c. 2800–800 cal BC): a Bayesian approach

Supervisors: Dr Dirk Brandherm (; Dr Maarten Blaauw

While during the last couple of decades there have been significant advances in our understanding of the Iberian Chalcolithic and Bronze Age sequence, mainly due to the widespread adoption of radiocarbon dating as the basis for establishing absolute chronologies (cf. Castro Martínez et al. 1996), significant problems remain regarding the resolution of regional chronologies and the tying-in of relative sequences with absolute dates. Surprisingly, despite the vast potential that Bayesian statistics offer for addressing precisely these issues (Buck et al. 1996), apart from some limited exploratory work (Barceló 2008; Lull et al. 2010) hardly any attempts have been made so far to apply a Bayesian approach to the substantial corpus of 14C determinations available from Iberian Chalcolithic and Bronze Age contexts (in excess of 2000 determinations).

Research theme: Classification, material composition and function of Irish Middle Bronze Age flanged axes and palstaves

Supervisors: Dr Dirk Brandherm (; Dr Gill Plunkett

While the Early Bronze Age flat axes and Late Bronze Age socketed axes of Ireland have received exhaustive treatment in the literature, the same does not hold true for Middle Bronze Age axe types, despite the significance of these implements as the most numerous group among Irish metalwork items from this period. With the massively increase in our knowledge of Middle Bronze Age settlement in recent years, a reappraisal of the role of contemporary metalwork against this new backdrop is urgently needed. Recent advances both in the methodology of morphometric classification (application of Discrete Cosine Transform algorithms to metal artefacts, cf. Forel et al. 2009; Monna et al. 2013), metal analysis (new generation of XRF devices, cf. Beckhoff 2006) and use-wear studies (with regard to metalwork still an emerging field, cf. Kienlin and Ottaway 1998) on metal objects provide a further incentive to re-tackle this subject.

Research theme: 'Big Data’ Palaeoecology

Supervisors: Dr Maarten Blaauw and Dr Will Megary

A wealth of fossil-based data is now available to investigate the past dynamics of climate, environments and ecosystems. More and more, the results of palaeoenvironmental studies, be they from lakes, bogs, trees, ice sheets or ocean sediments, are made available on public databases. In this project, we will use this ‘big data’ to revisit a range of palaeoecological questions, this time applying the latest numerical developments in chronology and automatisation. Through analyzing hundreds of fossil datasets, this project will thus update and enhance our understanding of classical palaeoenvironmental research topics such as: 1) what are the spatio-temporal patterns of past climate events such as around the Younger Dryas, 8.2ka and 3-2.7 kcal BP? 2) How did ecosystems respond to past climate events? 3) How did humans respond to past environmental dynamics (as analysed through pollen as proxy for deforestation and agriculture)? The big-data approach will enable us to cast a much wider spatio-temporal net to answer such research questions. At the same time, by applying sophisticated numerical methods to these large compilations, a better understanding of the uncertainties inherent in palaeoecological datasets (e.g., chronologies, dating density and signal-to-noise ratios of individual records, spatial extrapolation from single cores to wider regions) will be obtained. Big Data is inherently noisy and exploratory statistics will be applied alongside dimension reduction techniques to isolate pertinent data while also minimizing the redundancy which so often restricts the analysis of large datasets. Besides providing updated answers to classical palaeoenvironmental questions, the focus on uncertainties will enable an enhanced understanding of the possibilities and limitations of palaeoenvironmental reconstructions

For further details please contact Dr Maarten Blaauw (