Human Geography - MSc, PhD

Overview

At Kent we are fundamentally concerned with studying the complex, dynamic and changing relationships between humans and the environment, particularly how these interactions are reproduced spatially. Human adaptation to the environment and to environmental change is also a key focus.

Postgraduate research in Human Geography can cover a wide range of topics, but in essence it is broadly concerned with the dynamic interactions between humans and their environment. This encompasses social and cultural geography, urban and political geography, economics and development studies, as well as environmental and landscape planning.

PhD

The PhD is a three-year full-time and five-year part-time programme. You research and write a thesis of a maximum of 100,000 words under the supervision of an academic team. Students participate in the vibrant seminar culture of the School and have opportunities to meet and interact with researchers who work in major areas of Human Geography.

The first year includes training in research methodology and then the remaining years involve field work and/or library research and writing up. Normally, you work closely with two supervisors throughout your research, although you have a committee of three (including your primary supervisor) overseeing your progress.

MSc by Research

This programme is one-year full time, or two-year part-time.  You research and write a thesis under the supervision of one or two academic staff.  We have a vibrant research group whose interests stretch across the range of Human Geography. 

Choosing a topic

PhD applications are welcome in any main aspect of Human Geography including Rural and Urban Geographies, the Geographies of Tourism, Development Geography, and Political Geography as well as GIS and the utilisation of new geo-spatial technologies.

Although sometimes we have specific PhD research projects which might be externally funded by a Research Council where the PhD project has already been specified, most of our research students choose their own research topics. Once you have decided on the nature of your project, you should informally contact the member of staff in the School whose expertise and interests most closely match your area of research and ask them if they will act as your supervisor.

It is extremely important that you attach to your email an updated CV, a 2-page research proposal (including background statement, aims and objectives and research methods) and that you indicate how you are planning to fund your PGR studies. You then work with your proposed supervisor on refining your research proposal which provides the starting point for your subsequent research. 

Supervision

Each student is supervised by a supervisory team that consists of at least two members of academic staff one of them designated to act as the student’s Main supervisor. Occasionally, particular projects require more than two supervisors depending on the expertise that each supervisors brings in the project. It is also possible that co-supervision is provided by a member of staff from different School. 

Students meet (or, while in the field, make contact) with their supervisor(s) several times over the course of each term. These meetings involve intensive discussion of the way the project is developing, the readings and training that have been done and that need to be done, and the way field research and writing-up is progressing. 

If the research project requires that the student has to spend a significant amount of time in the field (away from the School), local supervision is usually organised. Overseas students who wish to spend most of their time in their home country while undertaking PhD research may register as an external student or for a split PhD.

Skills training

The University’s Graduate School co-ordinates the Research Development Programme for research students, providing access to a wide range of lectures and workshops on training, personal development planning and career development skills.


Research within the School is grouped into the following research areas:

Geography and Human Ecology 

Our interdisciplinary research theme explores the complexity and diversity of interactions between people, place and environment. We pursue our research in a range of geographical and social contexts to elaborate – and engage critically and constructively with – understandings of these relationships and approaches to their management and governance. Our research encompasses questions of sustainability and resilience, set within a broader interest in systems thinking. Research undertaken within our theme is distinguished by significant capacity in the critical and applied social sciences and spatial analysis, and is advanced through strong commitments to theoretical and conceptual innovation, as well as practical research that can influence developments in policy and practice  The interdisciplinary basis of the group draws in perspectives from human geography, urban studies, political geography, anthropology, economics, conservation and development studies, and has specific research interests in: Land use change and sustainable landscape planning Applied resource economics and environmental valuation, participatory approaches to natural resource management, ecosystem services and biocultural diversity, political economies of development and tourism, and urban mobility and diversity in contested cities. Members of the theme are active members of the University-wide Kent Interdisciplinary Centre for Spatial Studies (KISS) and the School’s Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) and Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE). We also host a lively programme of seminar and reading groups that synergise with these wider centre activities. Members of the theme are currently convening a reading group exploring the multiple provocations of the Anthropocene.

Social Anthropology

The regional expertise of our staff has a global reach, with field sites in Europe (including UK), the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia, Amazonia and Central America, Oceania and Southeast Asia. Themes of conflict, violence, the economic crisis and precarity form a major focus of our current work in these areas, alongside new research on austerity and its social impact, and charity. We have emerging interests in social inequality, work, and organised crime and corruption; and are internationally recognised for our work on ethnicity, nationalism, and identity.

Our research extends to intercommunal violence, diasporas, pilgrimage, intercommunal trade, urban ethnogenesis, indigenous representation and the study of contemporary religions and their global connections (especially Islam). History and heritage is another key theme, with related interests in time and temporality, and the School hosts the leading journal History and Anthropology. Other research addresses the anthropology of natural resources; anthropology of tourism; and post-socialist economy and society in Europe and Central Asia.

We research issues in fieldwork and methodology more generally, with a strong interest in the field of visual anthropology. Our work on identity and locality links with growing strengths in kinship and parenthood. This is complemented by work on the language of relatedness, and the cognitive bases of kinship terminologies

A final focus concerns science, medical anthropology and contemporary society. We work on the anthropology of business, biotechnology, and mental health. Related research focuses on policy and advocacy issues and examines the connections between public health policy and local healing strategies. Staff collaborations and networks extend widely across these regions and thematic interests, and Kent is well-known for its pioneering engagement with the anthropology of Europe.

Conservation Biology

Research within the conservation biology theme is broadly centred on using ecological approaches to understand and maintain biodiversity and ecosystem service provision.

The main tenet that underpins our work is that it is genuinely applied, with the explicit aim of either improving conservation practice (both in-situ and ex-situ) or informing policy development, both nationally and internationally.  To achieve this, we collaborate closely with individuals and organisations including government agencies, not-for-profits, private landowners and corporations from around the world, in addition to more traditional partnerships with academics at other universities and research institutes.

The scope of work conducted in the conservation biology theme is diverse, spanning multiple levels of biological organisation, from molecular/evolutionary genetics through to ecosystems, and a wide array of taxonomic groups (e.g. mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, orchids).  Primarily, there are four key accordant areas of expertise. The first is spatial/landscape conservation and ecology, with particular emphasis on protected area network design via systematic conservation planning techniques, as well as the use of novel methods to explore the impacts of environmental change (e.g. habitat fragmentation and degradation, climate warming, urbanisation) on populations and assemblages.  The second focuses on analysing extinction risk across a continuum ranging from individual species up to global macroecological patterns.  Third, much of the long-standing research in DICE is concentrated on monitoring population dynamics and examining trends in the genetic diversity of threatened species, contributing directly to the success of a whole host of conservation programmes over the years.  Finally, we study human-wildlife conflict/interactions (e.g. resource competition, disease transmission, development mitigation, wildlife gardening) from a natural sciences perspective, complementing concurrent social science research or contributing to knowledge within an interdisciplinary framework.

About The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE)

DICE is Britain’s leading research and postgraduate training centre dedicated to conserving biodiversity, as well as the ecological processes that support ecosystems and people.

We focus on combining natural and social sciences to understand complex conservation issues and design effective interventions to conserve biodiversity. Our staff have outstanding international research profiles, yet integrate this with considerable on-the-ground experience working in collaboration with conservation agencies around the world. This blend of expertise ensures that our programmes deliver the skills and knowledge that are essential components of conservation implementation.

Entry requirements

For an MSc by research a first degree (at least 2:1) in a relevant subject is required

For an MPhil or PhD a first degree and a usually a Master’s (at least Merit) or substantial professional experience in a relevant field is required.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, international fee-paying students cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: MSc 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

PhD 3 to 4 years full-time, 5 to 6 years part-time

Teaching and assessment

During postgraduate research (PGR) studies students research and write a thesis of under the supervision of an academic team. The length of the thesis varies according to the mode of registrations (i.e. no more than 100,000 words for a PhD, or no more than 40,000 words for an MSc by research).

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • Offer focussed and supportive research-training
  • To produce high-quality doctoral graduates with the skills necessary for pure and applied research within their chosen areas of employment, whether higher education, non-government organisations, public bodies and the private sector.

Fees

The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Human Geography - PhD at Canterbury

  • Home/EU full-time £4407
  • International full-time £19800
  • Home/EU part-time £2204
  • International part-time £9900

Human Geography - MSc by Research at Canterbury

  • Home/EU full-time £4407
  • International full-time £19800
  • Home/EU part-time £2204
  • International part-time £9900

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2020 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Anthropology and Conservation was ranked 10th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact and research power.

An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Research areas

Worldwide research

Recent or current projects cover topics such as:

  • Urban mobility and segregation in Stockholm and Jerusalem.
  • The Political Economy of Backpacker Tourism in South East Asia 
  • Cultural values and practices towards the natural environment in the British Overseas Territories
  • Analysis of the role of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy in creating jobs in UK rural areas.
  • Local knowledge, science and the environment: how and why people respond to climate change
  • Improved management of socio-ecological landscapes in Western Ghats
  • Cost, benefits and trade-offs in creating large conservation areas
  • Traditional knowledge, intellectual property rights and protected area management
  • The economic value of mammals in Britain

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Mark Hampton : Reader in Tourism Management

Tourism in developing countries, especially concerning its socio-economic impacts in islands and coastal areas.

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Dr Jonathan Rock Rokem : Lecturer in Human Geography

Urban geography; political geography; contested cities; migration; transport mobility, urban inequality; urban planning; spatial analysis Europe; Middle East.

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Dr Robert Fish : Reader in Human Ecology

Sustainable landscapes, culture and ecology, environmental citizenship.

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Professor Douglas MacMillan : Professor of Conservation and Applied Resource Economics

Economics and wildlife conservation; environmental modelling; economics of collaboration in land and wildlife management; forest resource economics.

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Dr Joseph Tzanopoulos : Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Conservation

Biodiversity conservation using a landscape approach to assess impacts of policy scenarios; reconciling biodiversity conservation and sustainable development on rural areas; landscape ecology and GIS; conservation policy and governance; agro-ecology and agricultural landscapes.

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Dr Ian Bride : Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Management

Conservation education; biodiversity management; PA and visitor management; nature tourism; guiding and interpretation; community-based conservation; and restoration ecology.

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Dr Rajindra K Puri : Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology

Historical ecology; knowledge transmission; adaptation to climate change; wildlife trade; protected areas; South-east Asia; Borneo.

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Dr Miguel Alexiades : Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology/Ethnobotany

Amazonian Peru; Ese Eja; Central Mexico; role and responsibility of science; indigenous land and resource rights; indigenous self-determination; higher education programmes for local communities.

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Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos : Professor of Social Anthropology

Political and environmental anthropology; Panama; Greece; ethnic relations and stereotyping; globalisation and indigeneity; sustainability.

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Careers

The Human Geography postgraduate MSc and PhD programmes combine academic theory with practical field experience to develop graduates who are highly employable. Human Geography graduates work in a variety of sectors including international aid and development agencies such as the United Nations, NGOs and charities; the civil service and local government departments responsible for housing and planning, environmental services, recycling, sustainability, regeneration; Ministry of Defence; environmental consultancies; travel and tourism; the property, real estate and planning sectors.

Study support

All research students have a supervisory committee, which is led by a main supervisor who oversees the day-to-day administration and management of the project. The committee also includes a chair, and, if necessary, a supplementary member (often based in the country where the research is conducted).

In conjunction with the supervisory committee, an individual training programme is devised for each student that includes both the generic and specific skills required to undertake the programme of research.

Postgraduate resources

DICE has various long-term study sites around the world, in addition to maintaining an ecology field trials area and field laboratory on the University campus. DICE is part of the School of Anthropology and Conservation, which is well equipped with computing facilities and research laboratories for biological anthropology, ecology, ethnobotany and molecular genetics.

The DICE postgraduate student body is global. Since 1991, there have been over 500 taught MSc graduates from 75 countries, most of whom now have successful full-time conservation careers. The PhD research degree programme has produced over 90 graduates from 27 different countries. Several graduates have gone on to win prestigious international prizes for their outstanding conservation achievements.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings and books. Articles have recently been published in prestigious periodicals including: Nature; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Ecology Letters; Conservation Letters; Conservation Biology; Global Environmental Change.

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Apply now

Typically we ask candidates to contact a supervisor directly to discuss their proposed project and the supervision available within the School. We recommend that you take a look at our staff profiles page, to ascertain what colleagues may be best placed to support your project.

Once you have liaised with your supervisor you should submit a formal application via the ‘Apply’ tab on the individual course information page.  As part of the online application you will be required to upload your PhD proposal (no more than 2 sides of A4, not including references) and your CV.  Furthermore you will be required to provide details of two academic referees.

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PhD at Canterbury

MSc at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827928

E: sacadmissions@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk