PhD: Flood Management, Social Learning, and Community Resilience

University of Plymouth

Plymouth, UK 🇬🇧


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Environmental Sciences (and select the entry point of April 2023), then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact [email protected]

Director of Studies: Dr Simon Dickinson

2nd Supervisor Dr Alan Smith

3rd Supervisor Dr Alison Stokes

The studentship would be supported by an interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) led by Dr Paul Lunt

 and Professor Richard Brazier (Director of CREWW, University of Exeter). 

Applications are invited for a 3.5 year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1st April 2023.

Project description

Community Flood Groups (CFGs) often play an important role in the development and implementation of catchment-scale flood management strategies. Previous research suggests that such groups, normally focused on reducing risk by fostering local engagement/participation, can stimulate radical and transformative community change. Yet, their potential is often dependant on the legislative, technical, and financial enabling of others in the governance/management system. 

Recognising this, the project will examine the dynamics and opportunities for knowledge sharing and social learning across CFGs in different catchments. The project explores how knowledge is transferred between catchments at the community-scale, and the impacts this might have on flood resilience and engagement. The successful candidate will investigate (i) learning between groups in different catchments (i.e. in what ways are CFGs currently networked and what are the opportunities for knowledge sharing between these CFGs?) and (ii) how CFGs stimulate social learning within catchments (i.e. how do CFGs foster learning and engagement in affected communities?). In doing so, they will contribute to a better understanding of both intra- and inter-catchment social learning and resilience-building. 

The research is part of an integrated framework of flood monitoring and research, involving 22 community, university, and governmental project partners across Devon. As part of a program of research, the candidate will also benefit from lateral support within the team of 5 PhD students, and two very strong research-led teams of academics at University of Plymouth and University of Exeter.    

Candidate requirements

A background in, or understanding of, one of the following areas is necessary: flood management; risk governance; community action; social learning in the hazard context. Some experience of qualitative field work (for example, ethnography, interviews, focus groups, participatory action research) and analysis, is essential, although project specific training will be provided.


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject such as geography or environmental science and relevant research experience or a Masters qualification.

The studentship is supported for 3.5 years and includes full Home tuition fees plus a stipend of £17,668 per annum (2022/23 rate).  The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home fees with relevant qualifications.  Applicants normally required to cover International fees will have to cover the difference between the Home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,670 per annum 2022/23 rate).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Simon Dickinson

Please see the list of supporting documents 

to upload with your application. 

For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact Research Degree [email protected]

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Friday 10 February 2023. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview the week beginning 27 February.  Applicants who have not received a response within two weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development