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Durham University

Department of Geography

Fully-Funded NERC Industrial CASE Studentship: Erosion Hotspots and Carbon Loss from Upland Peatlands

Durham University (UK), Departments of Geography and Earth Sciences in collaboration with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership are seeking a well-qualified student for a fully-funded NERC PhD Studentship commencing October 2018. The research will be supervised by Professor Jeff Warburton (Department of Geography) and Professor Fred Worrall (Department of Earth Sciences), Durham University.

The studentship aims to assess the importance of hotspots of erosion (bare peat patches) in threatening the overall carbon balance of the landscape and limiting efforts of restoration. It asks the important question whether the effort, and expense, required to restore small, often disparate, bare peat areas has a significant benefit or should such areas be left alone as their impact on the restored ecosystem services of the uplands is negligible? The project seeks to better understand the distribution, size, and connectedness of bare peat hotspots and how this has changed in the historic past across a range of erosional settings. Field experiments will be undertaken to understand the dynamics of bare peat patches and how the size, shape and organisation of patches across the landscape changes and impacts on erosion. Based on this knowledge a management strategy for the restoration of erosion hotspots will be developed.

This is a fully-funded 3.5 year NERC Industrial CASE studentship and is open to UK students or EU students who meet the UK Research Council's residency criteria.

The deadline for applications is Friday 29th June, 2018 (17:00 GMT).

To Apply

Please send the following documentation by email to with the reference 'NERC Peat CASE', by the deadline of Friday 29th June, 2018 (17:00 GMT).

  1. A current CV
  2. A cover letter (2 pages A4 max) which describes your motivation for applying for the project and your previous research experience
  3. Letters from two references (these can be sent directly to by referees if preferred)
  4. Transcripts of your previous qualifications

Your application will be reviewed and a shortlist for interview will be drawn up. Interviews will take place in the week of the 9th July, 2018. Applicants will be notified if they are successful by 17th July, 2018. The candidate will be expected to start in October 2018.

If you have any questions about the research project, please get in touch with Professor Jeff Warburton (

If you have questions about the application procedure, please contact