Project code



School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Start dates

February and October

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round


School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences


Self-funded PhD students only

There's an ongoing debate about whether unsightly biological growth on heritage sites protects or decays the underlying stone. As climate changes, the 'greening' of historic monuments is likely to increase, so understanding the impact of microbiological activity is important.

On this self-funded PhD programme, you'll analyse the impact of microbiological growth on heritage stone, to investigate the nature and intensity of decay or protection of the stones' surface.

It is supervised by Dr Robert Inkpen and Dr Joy Watts.

The work will include:

  • using laboratory and field based methods to analyse the impact of microbiological growth on heritage stone
  • identifying key organisms and their associated ecologies on Portland stone surfaces in urban and rural environments in Hampshire
  • using these results for detailed work in the spatial and temporal variations in the nature and intensity of microbiologically induced decay or protection of the stone surface

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Molecular tools will be used to identify and fingerprint microbial communities present on the stone surface.

Using destructive and non-destructive techniques, such as laser scanning, changes in the characteristics of the stone under different ecologies will be analysed.

The results of this work will help conservators to decide the most appropriate management strategy for dealing with increased microbiological activity.

Entry Requirements Accordian Panel

General Admissions Criteria

  • A good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending on the course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject
  • Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0
  • All applicants are subject to interview

How to apply

To make an enquiry about this project, get in touch with the PhD Supervisor for this programme, Dr Robert Inkpen,, or Dr Joy Watts,, quoting the project code GEOG2980217 and title.

How to apply

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Geography (Physical and Human) PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.