Project code



School of Biological Sciences

Start dates

October 2023

Closing date

6 April 2023

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2023. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science, and will be supervised by Dr Adele Julier, Dr Mark Hardiman and Dr Garry Scarlett.

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£17,668 for 2022/23). Bursary recipients will also receive an annual contribution of £1,500 per year towards consumables, conference, project or training costs.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Using pollen and other palaeoecological proxies to reconstruct landscape change over time near Fishbourne Roman Palace
  • Using modelling techniques to generate quantitative reconstructions of vegetation cover
  • Working with Fishbourne Roman Palace to interpret and disseminate key findings to a wider audience

This PhD project is a unique opportunity to contribute to our understanding of a key British Roman site. Fishbourne Roman Palace was built in 75 CE, just 32 years after the initial Roman invasion of 43 CE, and would therefore have been important in the Romans establishing a presence in the South of England. Little is known about how the Roman invasion of Britain impacted land use along the south coast because there is a distinct lack of appropriate records from Southern Britain (Dark, 2022). 

The core aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the landscape history in the area around Fishbourne Roman Palace, particularly in relation to the impact of the Roman Invasion, thereby deepening the understanding and connection local people have to the history of their area. 

Using pollen, charcoal, fungal spores, diatoms and sedimentary DNA from sediment cores recovered from Fishbourne Channel, the successful candidate will reconstruct landscape change through time in the area, primarily focussing on the impact of the Roman arrival at, and subsequent abandonment of, Fishbourne Roman Palace. 

Although the primary focus of this project would be the Roman invasion and occupation of Fishbourne, the impact of human activity on the area over the past 2000 years more generally will also be documented. We envisage that climatic events such as the Little Ice Age will be recorded by the proxies we use, and how people managed the landscape, farmed and used local resources would also be investigated.

This project will also involve local communities; the candidate will work with museum staff and local people to develop a resource feeding back the findings of the study to the community. 

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.


The successful candidate for this PhD can have a background in ecology, palaeoecology, geology, geography, archaeology, or botany. It is principally important that they have a genuine interest in how landscapes are influenced by human activity and a willingness to learn the palaeoecological techniques used to investigate this. The successful candidate must be willing to conduct field and laboratory work, including extended periods of light microscopy. Training will be provided in all techniques, but it would be desirable that the candidate is familiar with using R statistical software. 



How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Adele Julier ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. 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.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code BIOL7950423 when applying.