Human Geography and Sociology

The best way to develop a successful PhD proposal is to get in touch with a member of staff with research expertise in the area you want to study. Staff will work with you to develop a successful application and seek out the right funding mechanisms. The Department of Geography and Earth Sciences has world expertise in several areas of research and your project will be most successful if it can be shown to fit our various strengths. We recommend getting in touch with members of staff before submitting your application to discuss your proposal. Use one of the links below to start the process of finding an appropriate member of staff to work with.

UKRI Recognition

Aberystwyth’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences (DGES) is a key member of the WGSSS Welsh Graduate School of Social Sciences [insert hyperlink here ] trains top-level social scientists across Wales on a range of issues affecting society today. WGSSS is a collaboration between Cardiff University, and Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, the University of South Wales, the University of Gloucestershire, and Swansea University. DGES features in the WGSSS through the Human Geography Pathway and the Environmental Planning Pathway. Applications for projects that fall within these broad disciplinary areas and themes are encouraged.

The WGSSS benefits from strategic partnerships with Welsh Government, Office for National Statistics, Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, Office of the Commissioner for the Well-Being of Future Generations, Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action. Through the WGSSS the department has access to PhD funding, postdoctoral fellowship funding and cohort support for national training events as well as internship links, technical expertise and overseas institutional visits. This department is also a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership which grants us access to AHRC PhD funding.





Our staff have world-leading expertise in several areas of research in both human geography and sociology. Scholarship in human geography includes mobility studies, cultural and political theory, heritage and landscape, rural geographies, the politics of language, indigenous ontologies, food and land justice, governance and behavioural change, decolonial identities, and spaces of mental health.

Sociologists in the department have intersecting research expertise in relation to the following key themes: feminist theory, gender, disability, care and precarity. Sociology staff can also offer supervision on a number of unique and contemporary topics, such as, digital feminism, necropolitical decision making, and queer-crip theory.  Browse our research areas below and get in touch with an appropriate member of staff.


Primary Supervisor – Dr Yvonne Ehrstein

  • Feminisms and gender
  • (Post)feminist theory
  • The dynamics of inequality and discrimination
  • Work, parenting and care
  • The politics of social media
  • Online activism and digital culture

Primary Supervisor – Dr Bethany Simmonds

  • Ageing and health
  • Feminist ethics of care
  • Necropolitics and death
  • Neoliberalisation of health and social care systems
  • Embodied ageing experiences
  • Precarity capitalism

Primary Supervisor – Dr Emma Sheppard

  • Critical approaches to disability and chronic illness
  • Queer-crip theory
  • Use of creative or alternative methods
  • Queer selfhood, and/or non-normative sexual practices
  • Representation of disabled communities in the media

Cultural and Historical Geography

Primary Supervisor - Dr Elizabeth Gagen

  • Governance, Citizenship and Youth
  • Historical Geographies of Childhood and Youth
  • Psychospatial Histories
  • Gender and Embodiment
  • Play and Recreation

Primary Supervisor - Dr Gareth Hoskins

  • Geographies of Memory
  • Memory and Material Culture
  • Environmental History
  • Mining Heritage
  • Human Geographies of Weather
  • Historical Geographies of the Cosmos

Primary Supervisor - Professor Peter Merriman 

  • Mobility
  • Cultural and Historical Geography
  • History and Philosophies of Geography
  • Theories of Space and Spatiality
  • Twentieth Century Britain
  • Welsh Nationalism in the 20th Century

Primary Supervisor - Dr Mitch Rose

  • Cultural Landscape
  • Cultural and Political Theory
  • Politics and Culture of the Middle East

New Political Geographies

Primary Supervisor - Dr Jesse Heley

  • Rural community change
  • Rural localities and globalisation
  • Performance, regional consciousness and identity
  • The politics of class

Primary Supervisor - Professor Rhys Jones

  • Place, Politics and language
  • Geographies of Nationalism
  • Geographies of the State
  • Behavioural Insights and Citizenship

Primary Supervisor - Dr Rhys Dafydd Jones

  • Rural migration and diversity
  • Multiculturalism, migration, and minority nations
  • Lifestyle migration and lifestyle staying
  • Participation and civil society
  • Secularism, post-secularism, and faith

Primary Supervisor - Professor Mark Whitehead

  • Environmental Behaviour Change
  • Urban Climate Change 
  • Sustainability and Resilience
  • Digital culture and surveillance

Primary Supervisor - Professor Mike Woods

  • Small Town Global Engagement, 1860-1960
  • Citizenship, Participation and Local Governance
  • Globalization and Rural Localities
  • Rural Social Movements and Protest
  • Local and Regional Politics



The university has a number of funding mechanisms to support your research. There are government grants such as ESRC (for social science projects) and AHRC (for arts and humanities projects) studentships. In addition, there is an Aberystwyth University competition called the AberDoc. You can find details on each of these opportunities below. Remember, external PhD funding puts a lot of emphasis on research ‘fit’, so it is important to show a strong link between your research interests and the expertise within the department.

Funding opportunities




Training and Support

PhD research is supported both within the Department and through the Aberystwyth University Graduate School. The Department hosts a number of training events and regularly offers professional development opportunities. For example, we host the Social Research Lab, where PhD students and early career researchers present their research for supportive comment and feedback. We also host an annual postgraduate conference where students present their projects to geography staff and students from Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Swansea universities. Finally, we convene the annual Gregynog Theory School, a residential workshop for staff and students to discuss readings around a particular theme. Aberystwyth University Graduate School is a university-level training unit dedicated to the support and professionalisation of postgraduate students. The Graduate School offers an array of modules and training (e.g. on methods, ethics, research design, etc.) as well as professional development opportunities and placements through its Aberystwyth Researcher Programme.

Training and Support

PhD supervision

Aberystwyth University Researcher Training Programme

Aberystwyth University Researcher Development Programme

ESRC Wales DTP Theory School

Department of Geography and Earth Sciences Social Labs

Wales DTP Human Geography Postgraduate Conference: Website In progress

Entry Requirements and Application

See below for further information on our programme and how to progress with your application:

Entry Requirements:

  • 2:1 Bachelors (Honours) degree in a relevant subject area, or equivalent.
  • English Language Requirements: IELTS 7.0 with minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
  • Other Requirements: Applicants should submit a full research proposal at the point of application.

Download a prospectus.

Appy now via our Admissions Portal.