ESRC CASE PhD studentship: Proximities of Care: Exploring the spatial relations of voluntary and technological support for those living with dementia


The University of Liverpool and North West Doctoral Training Centre (NWDTC) invite applications from suitably qualified students for the following fully funded ESRC CASE PhD studentship: Proximities of Care: Exploring the spatial relations of voluntary and technological support for those living with dementia

This studentship is a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster and PSS (

The overall aim of this studentship is to explore the spatial interrelations of care in the context of increasing reliance on both voluntary and technological provision of care within the UK. It will do so through a case study of PSS (Person Shaped Support), a registered charity and social enterprise based in Liverpool which has been providing community based support, both locally and nationally, for almost a century. An ageing population within the UK alongside cuts to welfare funding and the reorganization of the NHS is resulting in increasing reliance on both voluntary care provision and tele-care and remote communications in supporting people living with dementia. Both of these trends are reflected in PSS’s work. This studentship will explore these with attention to the changing spatial interrelations of care, present in the delivery of care through proximate relations between those who are (initially) strangers, and through the use of technology that allows care at a distance. Methodologically the PhD will involve participant observation in voluntary programmes, interviews, focus groups and diary methods with those living with dementia, their families and carers.

Further details on the research are available here:

The studentship is available to cover UK/EU fees and an annual Research Council maintenance grant. Rates for the academic year 2014-15 will be as follows (subject to confirmation from the ESRC): Maintenance Grant £14,210.

Further details on eligibility, including residential eligibility are available here. (Although, please note that the application process for CASE awards is different to that detailed in this document – please contact the people identified below for more information).

The student would be based in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Liverpool and supervised by Dr. Bethan Evans and Dr Mark Riley, with co-supervision from Prof. Christine Milligan (Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ageing Research at Lancaster University), and Sinead Martin (PSS).

This award is available on a +3 basis only. In addition to having a 1st class or 2i undergraduate degree in (human) geography or related social science subject (sociology, politics, social policy, etc), candidates must also hold a Masters degree (or be close to completion) with sufficient research methods training to enable PhD study. Experience of research or voluntary work with older people or those living with dementia would be desirable.

For more information and details on how to apply please contact Dr. Bethan Evans ( The deadline for applications is Monday 17th February 2014. Interviews will be held on Tuesday 25th February 2014.

Why we investigate lake sediment archives: Some personal perspectives

Post by Dan Schillereff

Puzzled faces are often returned when people learn that my doctoral research involves analysing mud extracted from the bottom of a lake. Common questions include why? How? What does it look like? My interest in lake sediments was developed through my Undergraduate degree at Liverpool and addressing these queries is now an important part of my PhD. In this post I will briefly outline some answers from a personal perspective.

Why? Lake sediment records have contributed hugely to our understanding of past environmental changes around the globe. Where a lake is fed by a river which drains the local catchment, sediment is transported through the fluvial system and deposited at the lake bottom. These sediments can be characterised using numerous parameters measured in the field or using advanced laboratory techniques and fluctuations in these measurements may indicate a change in local climate, land-use or vegetation cover. My research focuses on recovering sediment sequences from lakes in the English Lake District (Bassenthwaite and Brotherswater) which should contain records of extreme flood events which have occurred in the catchment in the past. If the sedimentological signature of discrete flood layers within a long sediment sequence can be deciphered, counting the number of such layers can provide insight into flood frequency and a relationship between grain size and river discharge may provide data on flood magnitude. Our sediment cores cover many centuries and, in some cases, millennia. These datasets will therefore be invaluable to river managers and policy makers who need a better context in which to place the current spate of extreme flood disasters witnessed in recent years and to develop more effective mitigation scenarios of future flood risk.

Coring for lake sediment

How? Many techniques have been developed to extract the soft sediments lying at a lake bottom. Preserving the internal structure of the sediment sequence is crucial, however the high water content of the mud means methods must be used which recover the lake sediments with minimal disturbance. For extracting sequences potentially many meters thick, we use a Russian-style sediment corer, which consists of a semi-cylindrical metal case with a rotating cover plate, with an optional manual hammer system that can be employed. At Liverpool, we have constructed a raft which enables coring to take place on a solid, well-anchored platform. The corer is lowered through the water column, with metal support rods attached as required to reach the desired depth. If the sediment proves difficult to penetrate, the hammer system is attached to the vertical supporting rods and a weight is lifted and dropped to drive the corer further into the basal sediments. When the desired depth is reached, the support rods are rotated clockwise, the cover carves through the sediment column and an undisturbed sediment sequence is captured within the casing. The corer is lifted to the surface, lain flat and the rotating motion is reversed, revealing a lovely stratigraphic sequence upon the cover. Each core drive (which can be 0.5, 1.0 or 1.5 m in length) is encased in PVC drainpipe and transported to the lab here in Geography.

Lake sediment core

What does it look like? In my short academic career, I have observed numerous textures, colours and smells associated with mud extracted from different lake environments. Examining the factors which generate such characteristics is far beyond the scope of a blog post, but certainly these are subjects which feature prominently in the Physical Geography Undergraduate curriculum and the MSc Environment and Climate Change course.