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PhD positions available in CAHS

Posted on 14 May 2016

The Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences (CAHS) of the Department of Archaeology and Hull York Medical School at the University of York is seeking two Graduate Teaching Assistants who will undertake studies leading to the award of PhD.

CAHS undertakes research into musculoskeletal form and function in the context of mammalian, and particularly human, evolution. It has an internationally strong reputation in the fields of virtual anthropology, morphometrics, and functional simulation. Both the departments to which the centre belongs achieved high national rankings in the REF 2014: Archaeology was in the top 5 and HYMS, in the top 10. Beyond this, CAHS is a leading Centre within the University of York’s Centre for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins (PALAEO) which brings together some 40 staff with interests in human origins and their postgraduate students from across the University.

PhD topics are aligned to our key research themes in relation to studies of primates and hominin fossils that inform our understanding of human palaeoecology and evolution. One student will principally work with Prof Paul O’Higgins, with specific focus on the evolution of the hominin midface, with emphasis on the origins of modernity.  A second student will work with Dr Laura Fitton to study convergent evolution in the masticatory systems of hard object feeding primates. These projects will involve the application of methods from virtual anthropology, morphometrics, materials testing and functional simulation (finite elements analysis and/or multibody dynamics) to skeletal material.  For this reason the successful candidates will likely have experience of two or more of these areas. 

The successful candidates will be expected to contribute 250 hours per annum of teaching support in relation to both postgraduate and undergraduate teaching undertaken by CAHS. This will include the supervision of laboratory classes (in gross anatomy, physiology, virtual anthropology and evolutionary anatomy), day to day support for MSc students in relation to research projects, and general support to MBBS and MSc teaching and assessment as required. The principal base for the successful candidate’s research and teaching will be at the HYMS building on the University of York campus. However, teaching duties may occasionally involve physical presence at the HYMS University of Hull campus.

While we do not expect the successful candidates to each be able to cover all areas of teaching and research in the first instance, we will look to make appointments that cover these areas collectively and to train appointees in areas in which they are unfamiliar. Additionally, training will be provided in relation to University teaching methods, management and delivery.  

You are encouraged to contact Professor Paul O’Higgins ( and/or Dr Laura Fitton ( directly to discuss these positions prior to submitting your application. Details of their work and interests can be found here:


A stipend at the Research Council UK rate (indicative £14,296 for 2016/17) and a fee waiver at the Home/EU rate will be provided (indicative £4,121 for 2016/17).

This competition is open to UK and EU graduates or graduates from overseas. If a successful candidate is not eligible to pay Home/EU fees, they will need to fund the difference in tuition fees between the prevailing Home/EU and Overseas fees.

Qualifications and Skills Required

The successful candidates will be expected to hold a first class honours degree or an upper second in a relevant subject area and, ideally, a Master’s degree in a relevant topic with honours or distinction.   As part of your application you will need to submit a CV, and a personal statement outlining your career to date, career intentions as well as detailing your experience, skills and knowledge relevant to this position (up to 1000 words). Some experience in the delivery of academic or practical content to small groups would be preferred. You should have excellent written and oral communication skills, be able to work well independently and be highly motivated to undertake PhD research.

How to Apply

All applications MUST BE submitted to the HYMS Postgraduate Centre via the online application method: 

Please select ‘PhD in Human Sciences’ with a start date of ‘2016 October, full-time’.

The deadline for applications is the 20th June 2016.

Please quote HYMS with the scholarship title when applying. In order for the Panel to get a sense of your academic background, commitment and interest, you are required to complete the application form in full and provide a research proposal/outline of academic interest. Research proposals and personal statements may be used in selecting applicants for interview. If you have any queries on how to apply please email

Please note that this is a student scholarship.  If you will be employed by HYMS (e.g. on a fixed or short term contract) for the duration of your study, you will not be eligible to receive the student scholarship as a member of HYMS staff.  You should contact Elaine Brookes in Postgraduate Admissions if you still wish to apply to discuss different options.

Interview Date

Applicants who are shortlisted for interview will be sent details of the date, time and venue via email within a week of the deadline. If you are not invited for the interview, it means that your application has not been successful. Please note that we do not offer feedback to applicants who are not invited to the interview.

Interview Outcome

As soon as reasonably practicable after the interviews have taken place HYMS will write to the successful applicant offering him/her the post. Upon receipt of formal written acceptance of the post we will write to notify unsuccessful candidates. Whilst we try to do this in as effective and efficient manner as possible, sometimes the process can take rather longer than is ideal because of the need to recall candidates for a second interview and reconvene interview panels and/or due to routine disruptions caused by leave and other absences. We apologise for any delay and inconvenience caused in these circumstances.