Applications are invited for three fully-funded doctoral research studentships starting in October 2018 in a new Research Network funded by the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities.  


Floods: living with water in the past, present and future 

About WRoCAH Networks

WRoCAH White Rose Networks each comprise three PhD studentships. Students will work on one aspect of an over-arching research theme, and will benefit from being part of an integrated community working upon a larger initiative. Each WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentship has two supervisors – one at the student’s home institution and a co-supervisor at one of the other White Rose institutions.

Each university acts as lead on one studentship and co-supervisor on another, so each Network comprises six academics and three PhD researchers with parity of involvement across the three institutions.

Successful students will be expected to participate fully in the Network’s activities, working with other PhD researchers exploring the common theme from three different perspectives.  Students will also be part of the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities and have access to the additional funding opportunities membership offers.  For more details of these please see

About this Network

Flooding is a major global hazard causing severe environmental damage and destroying lives, communities and economies. Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of flooding through sea level rise and increased precipitation. Consequently, we are facing greater challenges living with floods: the threat of floods and the impact of floods are transforming landscapes and livelihoods. 

Living with flooding can be reduced to a technical problem: finding engineering and physical environmental solutions for monitoring, predicting, and protecting people and landscapes. Yet such separation of the material from the cultural profoundly weakens our understandings of and resilience to climate change. Flooding has societal causes alongside its effects, such as the long-term intensive grazing of upland landscapes leading to rapid run-off of rainwater and downstream flood events. Floods​ have always shaped landscapes and, as such, have influenced how societies enculturate environments. Flooding is historically constituted and our responses to floods and the risks of flooding are shaping how we live in and make our landscapes. 

What should we change if we are to be resilient in the face of the increasing scale and unpredictability of floods? How can we decide what to protect and what to give up to flooding? Put simply, how can we live with floods? This network will investigate the narratives that we have told, and can tell, when water inundates the land. It will develop novel approaches to researching floods at the intersection between floods as socio-environmental processes, as historical events, and as cultural representations. Through an innovative combination of humanities and social sciences methodologies, it will show how an analysis of flood stories can bring positive benefits for society and the environment. 

The three projects are connected through their shared interest in the stories of floods and how these can be mobilised to understand and mitigate the future impacts of flooding on humanity. They differ in their historical and geographical settings, and in their methodologies.

Studentships available

Application Closing Date: May 30 2018 

In the interests of fairness, late applications will not be accepted. 


Studentship Topic

Principal Supervisor



Living well with water: complex stories, democratic decision-making

Helen Graham

Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

Anna Jorgensen

Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield


Water takes land: interactive deep maps of England's lost villages

Bob Johnston

Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield



Debbie Maxwell

Department of Theatre, Film and Television, University of York


Tracing coastal storm flooding in landscape and literature

Katherine Selby

Department of Environment and Geography, University of York

David Higgins

School of English, University of Leeds



Studentship 1: University of Leeds 

Living well with water: complex stories, democratic decision-making 

PI Dr Helen Graham, Leeds

Co-I Dr Anna Jorgensen 

Management of flood risks will affect where and how people live and the heritage and aesthetics of well-loved places. This PhD will use action research to experiment with different storytelling approaches for collective exploration, debate and decision-making. How might different constituencies from public institutions to people directly affected co-produce understandings of change in order to underpin flood planning and make together a viable future? Key points of reference will be Catlin DeSilvey’s ‘anticipatory histories’ and ‘visualisations’ where key moments of past change are brought to life in order to imagine different futures. The project will use the capacities of stories to explore the links between place, well-being and democracy; how to respond to things beyond your direct control yet also feel what you do makes a difference in a complex world. 

Studentship 2: University of Sheffield 

Water takes land: interactive deep maps of England's lost villages 

PI Dr Bob Johnston, Sheffield

Co-I Dr Debbie Maxwell, York 

How do we remember and engage with landscapes lost to flooding? This question has resonance in the present day as humanity faces large-scale land loss due to climate change. It is also, in a more discrete sense, an experience in our recent past when valleys were deliberately flooded to create reservoirs. These floods destroyed farms and villages and dislocated communities. The student will research the landscape histories and the human stories of selected flooded valleys in northern England. The student will work with communities living close to the reservoirs and those affected by the floods to create different, interactive ‘deep maps’ of land loss (e.g. media-rich digital storytelling or augmented reality). The project’s methodology and technologies will have applicability in regions where future flood waters will take land and transform landscapes.

 Studentship 3: University of York 

Tracing coastal storm flooding in landscape and literature 

PI Dr Katherine Selby, York

Co-I Dr David Higgins, Leeds 

Coastal floods, resulting from a combination of high tides, storm surges, and waves, are a serious global hazard. They will become more prevalent over the coming century due to sea level rise and continued growth of coastal populations. Coastal flooding has also occurred in the past, as recorded within landforms such as saltmarshes and dunefields, as well as in written descriptions such as Daniel Defoe’s The Storm (1704). Drawing on methodologies from environmental archaeology, geography and literary studies, this PhD will integrate fieldwork and textual analysis in order to investigate how flooding has affected UK coastal areas and the people who inhabit them, over the last 500 years. The project will also reflect on how this novel integration of field and discursive evidence can offer new perspectives and insights into present and future responses to flooding and storminess. 

For more information on any of these studentships, see above.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants must:

-       Have at least a UK Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent. A Masters degree is desirable, or demonstration of equivalent experience.

-       Demonstrate a desire to participate fully in the network and its activities.

-       Demonstrate a desire to engage with and benefit from the full WRoCAH cohort of students from across the three White Rose Universities (c. 80 students) at the same stage in their research, in a shared training and development programme.

Terms and Conditions

Each WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentship is tenable for three years and students are expected to start in October 2018. As the coherence of the network is important, deferrals will not be permitted. 

The award will provide fees at the Home/EU rate and a stipend paid at standard Research Council rates

(£14,777) for the first year of study. The award is renewable for a second and third year of study subject to satisfactory academic progress according to each institution’s Policy on Research Degrees. 

Successful students will also be eligible to apply to additional WRoCAH funding schemes for research support, training, student-led activities and knowledge exchange projects.  All students will be required to spend one month with an external Partner organisation on a specific project to develop their employability skills.

If international students are appointed to the project then the following individual University regulations will apply:

-       Leeds: If an international candidate is offered a WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentship, the School would have to pay the difference between the international fee rate and the standard UK/EU fee rate.

-       Sheffield: If an international candidate is offered a WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentship, the candidate/department will be required to pay the difference between the international fee rate and the UK/EU fee rate.

-       York: If an international candidate is offered a WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentship, the department will be required to pay the difference between the international fee rate and the UK/EU fee rate.

Specific enquiries regarding eligibility should be directed to the relevant Scholarships Offices (NOT the WRoCAH office):


+44 113 343 4077  |


+44 114 222 1417  |


+44 1904 323374  |

How to apply

Application is in two parts. An application cannot be considered unless BOTH PARTS are complete.  



You must apply for a place of study at the institution where the studentship you are applying for is to be registered. If you have not done this yet, you can do this at the following links:


- Leeds:

- Sheffield:

- York:


You may wait up to 48 hours at busy times for applications to be processed and confirmation of your 9-digit student number so make sure you apply for a place of study in plenty of time so you do not miss the studentship application deadline.





Studentship Application Form:


If you have any queries about completing the online application form, please contact the WRoCAH Office on




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