PhD: Investigating the links between climate-related water stresses, migration and human trafficking

University of Hull

Hull, UK 🇬🇧

About this project

Investigating the links between climate-related water stresses, migration and human trafficking

Estimates suggest there could be between 200 million (Myers, 2005) and over one billion (UNHCR, 2016) climate migrants by 2050, pushed from their homes by climate impacts including increased temperatures and water shocks and stresses: specifically floods and droughts. In situations of insecurity, individuals have limited choices and must pursue opportunities they believe carry least risk (Kidd, 2019). Severe climate devastation can mean migrating in search of safety elsewhere, including to the UK. However, the reduction in legitimate options available to those fleeing their homelands, coupled with the resulting breakdown in their regular support networks, increases their vulnerability to various forms of exploitation, including human trafficking. Better understanding of the triggers, impacts, and human stories of climate-related migration is crucial to learning to live with water globally in a changing climate future.

This project will use existing quantitative data on migratory routes, alongside qualitative data gathered from those with lived-experience of climate change-related migration to investigate the triggers, likely origins, routes, and experiences of these migrants to the UK, with a dual focus on how vulnerabilities to human trafficking may be generated and on creatively sharing these stories as a means of driving awareness and action in relation to climate migration.

The project will work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 10 and 13, relating to migration and climate change respectively.

If you have any queries about this project, please address them to, rather than contacting the supervisor directly. This is to support our inclusive recruitment practices (please see ‘How to apply’ section below for more information). Our Water Cultures Professional Services Team will liaise with Supervisors and ensure you receive responses to your queries.

Free Webinar

The University of Hull is running a webinar at 6pm on Wednesday 7 December to provide more information about the Leverhulme DSC for Water Cultures. The webinar will close with a Q&A giving you the opportunity to delve deeper into research opportunities, training provision and potential career paths. Book your place.

About the research cluster

The University of Hull Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures is an interdisciplinary research centre exploring humanity’s relationships with water in the green-blue regions of the world, past, present and future.

It pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area – the green-blue humanities – and equips a new generation of PhD students to take this agenda forward and transform our understanding of humanity’s relationships with water.

Research Training

The Centre for Water Cultures offers an unrivalled doctoral training scheme designed to promote open-minded and outward-facing researchers, ready to collaborate across disciplines, and to partner with industry and other non-academic organisations, in the search for innovative solutions to today’s water challenges. Doctoral scholars will benefit from a dedicated placement scheme with opportunities to undertake placements of 1-3 months with one of our range of national and international water, heritage, and creative industry partners, designed to develop the career ambitions of our scholars within and beyond academia. They will benefit from a dedicated programme of invited talks, masterclasses, and workshops delivered by speakers from academia and industry. They will also receive bespoke support for career development before and beyond graduation, delivered by our interdisciplinary teams of supervisors and via our mentoring programme, which offers one-to-one support for professional and career development.

The University of Hull is uniquely positioned to deliver doctoral research training in the green-blue humanities. No other UK university offers Hull’s combination of an international reputation in water research, significant expertise and experience in community engagement and cultural sector evaluation (gained as Hull UK City of Culture’s principal research partner), along with a rich maritime history and long experience living with complex water challenges.

The Centre for Water Cultures is housed in Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute (EEI), a world leader in research into global water risks and resilience, including in relation to climate change, flooding, marine pollution and toxic water, and home to state of the art research facilities including the Total Environment Simulator (TES), experimental research flumes and high-performance computing running sophisticated hydro models. Doctoral Scholars at the Centre for Water Cultures will benefit from access to the EEI’s facilities and research environment, and from world-class expertise in water-related research in the arts, humanities, social, physical, and health sciences at Hull.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Research Training, in addition to their research degree. More information.

How to apply

You will need to complete this Centre for Water Cultures Supplementary Application Form which you can download here and upload your completed form, alongside the other supporting documents requested below.

As part of our inclusive practices, the Centre for Water Cultures adopts a process of assessing applications purely based on skills and attributes and does not consider any personal details. As such we ask applicants to remove any personal details from the Supplementary Form which is used by the Panel to assess and select applicants for interview. The form asks for details of your education, training and employment history as well as some specific questions about your motivations and research experience and interests. It is very important that you do not include any personally identifying information such as such as name, age, gender, ethnic group, nationality etc.

To complete your application, you should upload the following documents through the University of Hull student application portal (you will be directed there via the ‘Apply Now’ link below):

Please note that you can only apply for one project in the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarshps Centre for Water Cultures.

Apply Now

Apply for this scholarship – the application link will be added to this page very soon; please check back for updates.

Closing date for applications

Monday 30 January 2023


Interviews will take place during the week commencing 6 March 2023


Doctoral scholars appointed to interdisciplinary projects within the Centre for Water Cultures will be supported by PhD scholarships, funded for 48 months. These cover fees at the UK rate, a maintenance grant of £17,668 per year (2022/23 rate), and a research and training support grant.

Applicants already holding a PhD (or equivalent qualification) will not typically be considered as eligible for a Centre for Water Cultures scholarship. Applicants in this position wishing to apply must make a compelling case for their motivations in their personal statement.

Entry requirements

You should have a good undergraduate degree (at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent) in a relevant subject (e.g. Human Geography, Sociology, Criminology, Anthropology etc.) 

A Masters in a relevant subject is desirable, but not essential.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language competency. Information on the tests that we accept can be found on the University of Hull website.

International applicants

The Centre for Water Cultures welcomes applications from international candidates.

While the Leverhulme Trust funds fees at the UK rate, we are able to offer a limited number of international fee waivers to support EU and International applicants. These are likely to be attached to no more than 30% of our scholarships.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within 48 months from the start of your PhD scholarship.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development