PhD: A Causal Framework for Understanding Natural Hazard Impacts

University of Adelaide

Adelaide SA, Australia 🇦🇺

Applications openOpen Now
Applications close31 March 2023
Payment per year$32,500 p.a
Duration3.5 Years
DegreePostgraduate Research
CitizenshipAustralian CitizensAustralian Permanent ResidentsNew Zealand CitizensPermanent Humanitarian Visa HoldersInternational Students
Type of ScholarshipAcademic
Available InFaculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology (SET)
Available ToFuture

Whenever there is a large flood, bushfire, drought or other climate-related hazard, inevitable questions arise over the causes of the event—for example, whether climate change contributed to or exacerbated the hazard. Non-climatic questions might similarly arise whether infrastructure or policy approaches impacted or even ‘caused’ the event. To this end, developing a rigorous understanding of the causal drivers of natural hazards is an essential foundation both for the forensic diagnosis of historical events, and for identifying systemic improvements that will reduce future impacts. Yet the dynamic, complex and highly uncertain nature of natural hazards—combined with the breadth of scales at which humans are able to intervene in the system—mean that the causal pathways that describe how hazards generate impacts are far from clear. This PhD will build on contemporary thinking in causal reasoning to develop a practical causal framework for understanding natural hazard risk. This framework will be applicable to all major classes of natural hazards, and will be tested using a case study of the recent floods in eastern Australia. Successful completion of this research will improve the way society is able to reason about historical and future natural hazards, and provide a foundation for improving our capacity to adapt to future risk.

The Scholarship is funded by the University of Adelaide to support a full-time PhD student who is commencing research in hydrology, water resources engineering or environmental engineering disciplines. Students with a degree in statistics or computer science and with an interest in natural hazards research will also be considered.


Applicants can be either Australian or international students who are acceptable as candidates for a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide.


The scholarship will be for 3.5 years and has a stipend of $32,500 (indexed annually) per annum.

It is likely to be tax exempt, subject to Taxation Office approval.  Details of any terms and/or benefits can be found in the Conditions of Award/Rules


Contact Person: Seth Westra

School/Discipline of:  School of Architecture and Civil Engineering / Discipline of Environmental Engineering

Tel: (08) 8313 1538             Email:

Applying: Expression of interest

Expressions of interest should be submitted to Seth Westra ( by no later than 31 March 2023 with the name of scholarship in the subject heading. Please ensure you include all of the following documents:

  • Degree certificates (testamurs)
  • Academic transcripts
  • Translations of non-English documentation
  • Evidence of English language proficiency
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A personal statement elaborating on your interest and background knowledge in the PhD topic (maximum two pages)





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