Current PhD Opportunities

Book a place on our Open Days on Saturday 13th July 2019 to discover how we can provide the opportunity for you to develop your knowledge and further your career.

As part of our vibrant community of PhD students, you will make a direct contribution to the world-class research of the Graduate School, and develop the skills you need to enjoy a rewarding career.

Whatever your field of interest in relation to the environment – whether in the natural or social sciences – the size and scope of the Graduate School for the Environment means that you are guaranteed to find a suitably stimulating research project to work on.

Support structure

As a PhD student, you will immediately become a valued member of a research group, each of which is headed up by one of our internationally respected academics and supported by an array of post-doctoral research associates and technicians.

You will make your personal contribution to the group – and be taught the research skills you need – under the guidance of one or more supervisors specifically chosen to suit your area of interest. It is with the support of your supervisors and your research group colleagues that you will be able to extract full value from your time at the Graduate School.

Current PhD Opportunities

  • Optimising the repeatability of UAV imaging surveys

    To maximise the repeatability of UAV survey results, whilst minimising data collection and processing requirements, through considering image characteristics within survey design.

    The use of unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) for image-based surveys is becoming increasingly widespread across the geosciences and in industries such as engineering and surveying. However, the increasing availability of such data has not been paralleled by an equivalent increase in our understanding of data quality. Consequently, data analysis and interpretation can be restricted by our limited knowledge of the magnitude of the uncertainties involved. This project will characterise the uncertainties in UAV imaging surveys and explore the implications for products such as digital elevation models and image orthomosaics.

    Fully funded UK/EU PhD studentship

    Supervisors: Dr Mike James, Professor Peter Atkinson, Paul Scholefield (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology)

    Start date: October 2019

    Application deadline: 31st May 2018

    Click here to apply


  • Using drone imagery to manage tree failure hazards

    Supervisors:  Alan Blackburn, Duncan Whyatt, Paul Scholefield (CEH)

    Tree failures, which typically occur during severe storms, regularly cause severe disruption to transport and power networks. Operators of infrastructure networks and public spaces face the difficult task of managing the many millions of trees that are in their areas of responsibility, in order to minimise the risks of failure.

    This project will exploit the emerging generation of novel aerial platforms, sensors and data analysis techniques to acquire detailed information on individual trees and their environmental context, to inform tree management decisions for a range of utility and transport companies. .

    The project will generate: (i) protocols for acquiring remotely-sensed data that it suitable for measuring key tree and environmental parameters; (ii) analytical procedures that can extract tree and environmental parameters accurately; (iii) effective methods for repeated monitoring of risky trees; (iv) an efficient data processing platform that will support the operational application of large remotely-sensed data sets for tree survey and inspection. 

    This project builds on recent research projects funded by NERC and EPSRC and has strong potential to open up new markets in the UK and overseas, in the context of tree failure risk management and more widely in arboriculture, orchard management, forestry, ecological survey and carbon accounting. To enable data collection, the student will undergo training and certification as a UAV pilot and will also benefit from all the required training in image processing and  data analysis.

    More details on the Geospatial Data Science Research Group at Lancaster Environment Centre can be found here

    Informal enquires are welcomed, please contact Professor Alan Blackburn  or Dr Duncan Whyatt .

How to Apply

Launch your career in research with a funded PhD. Please read carefully the advertised project information, including the funding eligibility as only applicants who have a relevant background and meet the funding criteria can will be considered.

  • Download the Application Form and Reference Form.
  • Complete the Application Form, renaming the document with your 'Name and Application Form' e.g., Joe Bloggs' Application Form.
  • Send the completed Application Form and a CV to the email address as indicated within the project advert.
    Project adverts are available under Current Opportunities.
    Applications and CVs must be submitted as either Word documents or pdf files - no other file types are accepted.
  • Rename the referee form with your 'Name and Reference', e.g., Joe Bloggs Reference.
    Send the renamed reference form to two referees and request them to forward the referee document to the email address as indicated in the project advert.
    References must be submitted as either Word documents or pdf files - no other file types are accepted.
    It is important that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.
  • You will receive an acknowledgment in receipt of successfully sending the application documents.

Funded PhDs are advertised throughout the year, however the majority of projects are advertised between December and May for an October start. In some circumstances, dependent on the funding, start dates in January and April will be considered.

  • Please note that only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered.
  • If English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered a funded PhD, and is not required as part of this application process.
  • If you do not hear from us within four weeks of the closing date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. If you would like feedback on your application, please contact the supervisors of the project.

Research Groups

Doctoral Training

You can also apply for a PhD at one of the Doctoral Training Centres and Partnerships that work with the Graduate School for the Environment.