Physical Geography: Fully Funded UKRI and Swansea PhD Scholarship: Refining the Chronology and Palaeoclimatology of Chaco Canyon Using Stable Isotope Dendrochronology (RS637)

  • DeadlineDeadline: 8 July 2024
  • WalesWales


Closing date: 8 July 2024

Funding providers: UKRI and Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering

Subject areas: Physical Geography / Science-based Archaeology

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project supervisors: 

  • Professor N.J. Loader (Swansea University -
  • Professor C. Pearson (University of Arizona, USA)
  • Dr D. Davies (Swansea University)

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Physical Geography

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description: 

One of most iconic sites in American dendrochronology is the National Historical Park at Chaco Canyon. Timbers from multi-storey pueblo houses such as the iconic ‘Pueblo Bonito’ were among the very first used in the development of the science of dendrochronology by A.E. Douglass (1929). Remarkably, of the 7,708 wood samples from Chaco Canyon currently held in the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research (University of Arizona) only about 36% could be dendrochronologically dated. This can be quite typical at such sites, where there is often a large quantity of shorter lived or complacent wood that has not been suitable for traditional dendrochronological work, but which never-the-less offers substantial potential to augment our understanding of the site and its environmental history. This collaborative research project, in partnership with Professor C. Pearson and S. Belmecheri at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research (University of Arizona) aims to apply the emerging technique of stable isotope dendrochronology to previously undated timbers, with a view to refining the chronology of this site and presenting a test case to be modelled at other SW sites. The project will also aim to develop an isotope-based palaeoclimate reconstruction capable of capturing the true magnitude of extreme “mega-drought” events and to explore their development and persistence through time, in concert with patterns of increased rainfall thought to correspond with periods of site expansion.

For more details please see here:

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold a UK bachelor’s degree with a minimum of Upper Second Class honours or overseas bachelor’s degree deemed equivalent to UK honours (by UK ECCTIS) and achieved a grade equivalent to UK Upper Second Class honours in geography or a related field, OR master’s degree with a minimum overall grade at ‘Merit’ (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) (see country specific qualifications). Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.  

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend at £19,237.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

How To Apply

o apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

  1. Course choice – please select Physical Geography / PhD / Full-time / 3 Year / October 

    In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

  2. Start year – please select 2024 
  3. Funding (page 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS637 - Refining the Chronology'

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University: 

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via e-mail). We strongly advise you to provide the listed supporting documents by the advertised application closing date. Please note that your application may not be considered without the documents listed:

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
  • A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of EDI form submission (optional) 

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Professor N.J. Loader (

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.

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