‘An Area the Size of Wales’: Environmental Attitudes and the Geographical Imagination

‘An Area the Size of Wales’


  1. Professor Dave Clarke, d.b.clarke@swansea.ac.uk, Swansea University
  2. Dr Amanda Rogers, a.rogers@swansea.ac.uk, Swansea University

Project and aims

This studentship will explore how environmental issues are represented, understood and debated in the Welsh national context. Representations shape people’s engagement with global environmental issues (Gold and Revill, 2004), but their form and efficacy remain under-researched. As well as being of broad social and cultural importance, this is especially significant given the centrality of such issues to Welsh Government policy: to what extent does this policy commitment translate into the wider national consciousness? Geographical imaginations relating to Wales and Welsh identity are mobilised in a range of ways to influence people’s understanding of environmental issues and campaigns. The Welsh charity, Size of Wales (http://www.sizeofwales.org.uk/), uses the expression, ‘an area the size of Wales’ to emphasise the scale of tropical deforestation rates and consequent need for conservation. Recent environmental-art installations, such as Ghost Forest (http://www.ghostforest.org/), evoke the depletion of natural resources but their permanent display at the National Botanic Garden of Wales (http://www.gardenofwales.org.uk/) situate Wales at the centre of global issues. Such installations also provide a stimulus for embodying the complexities of debate through creative practices such as poetry and theatre. As such, this studentship feeds into a range of geographical agendas involving how public understandings of the changing global environment might be developed, from the promotion of citizen science in conservation, to the effectiveness of environmental, visual, and new-genre public art in shaping attitudes to climate change.

The studentship will consider different tropes, sites, and practices through which representations are generated. It will also assess their impact on national and personal environmental understandings and engagements. The research will be undertaken in partnership with the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, and may consider the role of volunteering activities, environmental sculpture, and different scientific/display spaces (including herbariums, arboreta and botanical collections) in shaping public understandings of the global environment. However, the project may also consider the role of environmental campaigns, citizen-science activities (such as those of the Botanical Society of the British Isles Cymru), as well as representations generated in Welsh national policy (e.g. the Welsh Government’s pioneering Sustainable Development Bill).

Applicant requirements

Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first-class or upper second-class honours degree and/or appropriate Master’s degree. The studentship is available on a 1 + 3 basis (Research Training Masters + PhD) or a +3 (PhD only) basis where candidates either already have an ESRC-recognized Research Training Masters Degree or will have successfully passed an approved Masters degree by September 2013. The studentship is available from the ESRC’s DTC Wales for UK and EU students who meet residency requirements set out by the ESRC. Please consult the ESRC Funding Guide for full details on residential eligibility requirements.


The Department of Geography at Swansea University, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Doctoral Training Centre for Wales (ESRC DTC Wales) invites applications to this fully-funded studentship, which is available for either four years (1 year MSc in Social Research + 3 year PhD: ‘1+3’) or a as a three-year PhD studentship (for candidates who already hold a Masters degree with an ESRC-approved Research Training (RT) element: ‘+3’). The studentship is expected to commence in September 2013 and will cover tuition fees, a maintenance grant of £13,726 per annum for either three or four (1 + 3) years, as appropriate, and an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £750.

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the deadline:

To apply for this ESRC scholarship, please download the research scholarship application form ‌and return it to the College of Science with the following:

  • Academic References - all scholarship applications require two references to be submitted in support. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as we will be using these to
    help us evaluate your application.  Please either incude these with your scholarship application or ask your referees to send them directly to Sandra Kramcha.
  • Academic Transcripts -academic transcripts must be submitted along with the scholarship application by the funding deadline. We will be using these to verify your academic qualifications.
  • Applicants should use the Supplementary Personal Statement' section of the application form to explain why the nominated award they have chosen particularly appeals to them and how they would choose to develop it.

* NOTE: If you wish to apply for a 1 + 3 award, please indicate this on the research scholarship application form in the ‘Title of Scholarship’ field as: ‘An Area the Size of Wales’: Environmental Attitudes and the Geographical Imagination – 1 + 3 award.

Application closing date: 15 APRIL 2013

Please either post the documents to:

Mrs Sandra Kramcha
College of Science
Wallace Building
Swansea University
Singleton Park
Swansea SA2 8PP

or send them by email - s.kramcha@swansea.ac.uk

How Applications will be Assessed

Application forms will be assessed by the relevant academic staff in the Department, following which short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. We expect interviews to take place during the week beginning 29 April 2013. Successful applicants can expect to hear by the end of May.  All decisions will be ratified by the DTC Wales and its judgments are final.