Geography: Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarship: Satellite Monitoring of Global Desertification

Closing date: 22 January 2018

Key Information

Start date: 1 October 2018 or 1 January 2019

Swansea University is proud to offer 15 fully-funded PhD scholarships for students commencing study in October 2018 or January 2019.

The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of student excellence across a portfolio of 34 potential projects.

Swansea University is a UK top 30 institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship in Geography.

Desertification is a major global environmental problem, resulting from both climatic change and management of land.  Satellite monitoring can provide routine regional estimates of vegetation cover and interannual change. However, there is an urgent need to provide early warning of drought stress and potential loss of productivity at global scales. This project will explore new methods using the recently launched satellite Sentinel-2, and archive Landsat imagery. These will be tested using field campaign data in semi-arid sites to explore the ability to detect vegetation stress and predict seasonal progression of productivity decline and functionality of the vegetation. The PhD will be supervised within the Department of Geography at Swansea University, but is suitable for candidates from a broad range of backgrounds, including physical science, biosciences, and engineering. The research will have potential to improve early warning for food security, and for monitoring impacts of climate change in drylands.

Supervisors / Academic contacts: Dr Rocio Hernandez-Clemente and Professor Peter North

Find out more about the Global Environmental Modelling & Earth Observation research group. 

The successful applicant will have access to our Postgraduate Research Student Training programmes.


Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or a distinction at master's level in geography or a relevant subject area.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is available to UK/EU students only.


The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus an annual stipend of £14,553 (in line with the RCUK stipend amount) for 3 years. 

There will also be £1,000 per annum available for research expenses such as travel, accommodation, field trips and conference attendance.

How to Apply

To apply please complete and return the following documents to Dr Vivienne Jenkins ( using the quote reference COS3:

Student applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

      • Literary and Academic attainments (60%)
      • Demonstrable esteem indicators i.e. ambassadorial skills, instincts and opportunities to demonstrate leadership, experience and interest in extracurricular and community activities (40%)

The deadline for applications is Monday 22 January 2018.

Informal enquiries before the deadline are welcome and should be directed to Dr Rocio Hernandez-Clemente ( or Professor Peter North by email ( or telephone: +44 (0)1792 295234).