University of St Andrews

PhD Funding Opportunities

For a complete list of current funding opportunities please see the database maintained by the University’s Fees and Funding Team.

Enquiries from self-funding students are welcome. Information on tuition fees and other costs of studying at St Andrews can be found on the University’s Fees and Funding page.

Details of any funding opportunities that are especially suitable for Geography/Sustainable Development students will also be posted below as they arise.

  • NERC CASE award and University of St Andrews funded studentship competition on project Holocene perspectives on the ecology of moorland burning in northern England


Holocene perspectives on the ecology of moorland burning in northern England

Funding: NERC CASE award + University of St Andrews

Supervisors:  Dr Katy RoucouxDr AL Davies and Dr Miles Johnson (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, CASE partner)

Burning has played a role in upland ecosystems since the early Holocene in Britain. Some of the earliest records of the deliberate use of fire by humans, from the North Yorkshire Moors, reveal a profound impact on the landscape including changes in the species make-up of plant communities, woodland clearance, destabilisation of soils and the triggering of peat accumulation in the early to middle Holocene. Today, burning of moorland vegetation is a widespread management practice and rotational patch burning has been in operation for at least the last 100 years. There are strong indications that such burning has detrimental consequences for upland ecosystems via effects on vegetation composition and structure, hydrology, water quality, stream biota and preservation of organic matter (and hence the amount of carbon sequestered). Intensification of burning and increase in the extent of the area burned since the 1970s have led to increasing concern over the resulting ecosystem disturbance. 

The aim of this project is to place current moorland burning practices into the long-term context by generating new palaeoecological datasets (e.g. pollen, charcoal) spanning the Holocene and analysing documentary evidence (e.g. parish records, aerial photographs) for the past 500 years from a region that is understudied from this perspective, the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The results will meet an urgent need for an improved research foundation to aid the development of practical management policies, and will make a significant contribution to the international scientific effort to understand the role of fire in determining ecosystem function.

For further information on the project, select the Moorland burning PhD project advert (PDF, 300 KB) or contact Dr Katy Roucoux.

Eligibility: The NERC / St Andrews award is open to Home and EU students. EU students who do not fulfil NERC’s residence eligibility criteria will be entitled to a Fees Only award (please note that it is your responsibility to check NERC’s residential guidelines which is on page 12 of Terms and conditions of training grants).

The award: This scholarship covers tuition fees and a yearly stipend which is currently approximately £14,057.

Candidate profile: 

  • A First class or II(i) honours degree or equivalent at undergraduate level in a relevant discipline
  • An undergraduate or Masters dissertation on a relevant topic would be advantageous
  • An overall score of at least 7.0 in IELTS test or equivalent (if appropriate)

How to Apply: Please apply using the University’s online application system (PhD Application Form).  Please note on the PhD application form that you are applying for “Holocene perspectives on the ecology of moorland burning in northern England, NERC CASE award + University of St Andrews”.  The closing date for applications is 5pm Thursday 18th February 2016. Interviews for shortlisted candidates will be held and Skype interviews are possible.  It is hoped the successful candidate would begin PhD studies on 27 September 2016.