Managing archaeological loss in the face of coastal change, Geography – MPhil/PhD (Funded) Ref: 3039

About the award

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with Historic England, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2018 (or as soon as possible thereafter). This studentship is funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,327 for 3 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time, study. The student will also be eligible to draw additional funding from a Student Development Fund to support the cost of training, work placements, and other development opportunities. The student will be based in the Geography discipline in the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall.


Geography, Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Academic Supervisors:
Dr Caitlin DeSilvey, University of Exeter
Dr Hannah Fluck, Historic England
Dr Bryony Onciul, University of Exeter

Project Description:
Accelerated erosion, rising sea levels and changes in weather patterns present a challenge for coastal archaeology; in coming decades some heritage assets will be lost, or radically transformed. Historic England identifies a need to ‘develop an approach for dealing with inevitable change, including loss’ (Fluck 2017, Climate change adaptation report: 21). In academic contexts, a growing body of work focuses on developing heritage management strategies that look 'beyond saving' to engage with the productive potential of change and transformation (DeSilvey 2017; Holtorf 2015).
The studentship project will focus on three core areas of enquiry: how frameworks of risk and vulnerability are applied to coastal archaeological sites in South West England; management challenges arising from the identification of risk; and, opportunities for community engagement with the generation of adaptive management practices. By engaging with local communities and heritage managers, the research will contribute to national debates and policy development on challenges and opportunities presented by inevitable loss of heritage assets.

Key research questions addressed by the project:
How are concepts of risk and vulnerability, and notions of loss and endangerment, framed (by heritage organisations and communities) in relation to heritage assets affected by coastal change?
Can innovative, integrated approaches to monitoring and making sense of risk contribute to the development of new frameworks for the management of heritage in dynamic coastal contexts?
What changes to current policy are needed to facilitate adoption of approaches that frame risk as an opportunity for engagement, and acknowledge the productive and transformative aspects of loss?
In practice what might a more creative, inclusive response to coastal erosion and archaeological loss look like? To what extent could such approaches work within the Heritage At Risk programme?

The successful candidate will select at least four coastal sites for study, including at least two designated assets on the national Heritage At Risk register. Resources available for the study include existing data from local and national heritage records (e.g. National Heritage List for England, Historic Environment Record, HAR records, Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment) and data on coastal change and management (e.g. Coastal Observatory data, Shoreline Management Plans). The student will gather additional data through site survey where appropriate and will also take account of the impact of future climate projections to assess the risks to selected sites. The student is expected to develop a critical understanding of how management frameworks related to risk, vulnerability and endangerment are applied to coastal archaeological sites; to identify and articulate management challenges related to the prospect of inevitable loss over different time frames; and to explore the relevance of alternative management paradigms based on the accommodation of change. They will also explore the relationship between affected sites and associated communities, considering how the impending transformation of coastal archaeological sites may provide opportunities for community engagement. 
The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3 years of full-time study to commence in September 2018 and is subject to confirmation of funding.   

The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, currently £14,777 per annum, plus an additional £550 per annum for Collaborative Doctoral Award students, and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the AHRC. Additional support for research expenses, travel and training will also be available (up to £2000 per annum from Historic England and up to £300 per annum from the College, for 3 years). Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend.  Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.  Further information about eligibility can be found here.

The student also will be eligible to draw additional funding from the AHRC CDP Student Development Fund to support the cost of training, work placements, and other development opportunities that will benefit the student’s doctoral research and future career development as a researcher in a University or Museum/Library/Archive/Heritage sector organisation. Further information can be found here.

Entry requirements:
Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in geography, archaeology, heritage studies or another related subject.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English

The closing date for applications is midnight on April 13 2018.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus (Exeter) the week commencing 30 April 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:13th April 2018
Value:£15,327 for 3 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Postgraduate Research Office