Archived News 2013

Scholarship for MRes in Geography 2013-14

Closing date for applications: Applications have to reach the department by midnight, 15 June 2013.

Duration and mode of study
One year full-time or two years part-time, starting in October 2013. The scholarship covers the full Home/EU fee of £5,010.

Course aims

The flexibility of the MRes in Geography allows students to develop their domain knowledge and research skills under the direct supervision of a member of staff. The relationship between staff and student is more direct than that under traditional MSc supervision. Each student will take 40 taught credits from existing modules and the dissertation component of the MRes allows the student to develop and explore a deep understanding of their topic. It is expected that the MRes will result in publications. The MRes is an ideal basis for pursuing a research career through a PhD.

View full MRes Scholarship details

Research Seminars 2012-2013

Semester 2 All seminars take place on Thursdays in the Seminar room F75a, first floor, Bennett Building at 4.00pm unless otherwise stated.
  • 14 February 2013:  CANCELLED
  • 21 February 2013:  Dr Nic Pacini, University of Leicester, CLCR
    ‘Dioxin contamination of freshwater fish in southern Italy ’
    Chair: TBC
  • 28 February 2013:  Dr Uri Gordon Loughborough University
    ‘Anarchism and the future of statecraft’
    Chair: TBC
  • 7 March 2013:  Dr Caroline Bressey, University College London
    ‘Geographies of art and politics: cosmopolitan identities in London between the wars’
    Chair: TBC
  • 14 March 2013: Professor Jim Harris, Cranfield University
    'Ecologial Restoration - Concepts and Application'
    Chair: Mick Whelan
  • 21 March 2013:  Dr Katherine Brickell, Royal Holloway, University of London
    ‘Violences of home in contemporary Cambodia’
    Chair: Dr Jen Dickinson
  • 2 May 2013:  CANCELLED
  • 9 May 2013:  Dr Johanna Waters, University of Birmingham
    ‘The differentiation and diversification of international education: a geographical perspective’
    Chair: Dr Clare Madge

Download the Research Seminars poster (.pdf)

Deforestation triggers carbon collapse of tropical peatlands

University of Leicester Geographer carries out fieldwork in Indonesian Borneo

Deforested tropical peatlands are haemorrhaging carbon from deep within their peat soils, with consequences for the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, according to new research by The Open University and partners, including the University of Leicester, published earlier this week in Nature (31 January 2013).

Tropical peatlands, with their high water tables and low decomposition rates, form vast stores of organic carbon tens of metres thick. Most of it is found in Indonesia, where the natural swamp forests (also home to endangered animal species such as orangutans) are increasingly being destroyed by deforestation, drainage and fire, to make way for agriculture, in particular oil palm for biofuels and food. 

Dr Sam Moore, lead author of the study and former Open University PhD student, explained: “We measured carbon losses in channels draining intact and deforested peatlands, and found it is 50 per cent higher from deforested swamps, compared to intact swamps. Dissolved organic carbon released from intact swamps mainly comes from fresh plant material, but carbon from the deforested swamps is much older – centuries to millennia – and comes from deep within the peat column.”

Deforestation of Asian peat swamps is an important source of carbon dioxide emissions globally but this emission may be larger than previously thought. Carbon loss from deforested and drained peatlands is often not considered in ecosystem exchange carbon budgets, but the research team found it increased the estimated total carbon loss by 22 per cent.  In addition, carbon dating shows that it comes from peat which had been securely stored in the swamp forests for thousands of years.

Changes in the water cycle seem to be the principal driver of this increase in carbon loss.  Much of the water falling as rain would normally leave the ecosystem through transpiration in vegetation, but deforestation forces it to leave through the peat, where it dissolves fossil carbon on its way.

Professor Susan Page, Head of Geography at the University of Leicester, was involved - along with co-researchers -  in designing and directing the study. Fieldwork was carried out with the collaboration of a local university in Indonesian Borneo with whom Professor Page has been working for the last 20 years.
Professor Page said: “This breakthrough study provides further evidence of the scale of the loss of carbon from tropical peatlands that have been deforested and drained.

“My previous research has shown convincingly that the carbon debt associated with the conversion of peatlands to agriculture, particularly for plantations, is enormous, but we had no handle on the size of the fluvial losses occurring through the leaching of dissolved carbon into rivers.

Oil Palm“This paper shows, for the first time, that these losses are significant and alongside the losses from peat decomposition and fire, they need to be taken into account in any assessment of the impact of land use change on tropical peatland. The peatlands of Southeast Asia are a globally important store of soil carbon – exceeding the amount stored in tropical forest vegetation. But they are under enormous pressure from plantation development.
“Projections indicate an increase in oil palm plantations on peat to a total area of 2.5 million hectares by the year 2020 in western Indonesia alone – an area equivalent to a tenth of the land area of the United Kingdom. Given this scale of plantation development it is important that the full greenhouse gas emission ‘costs’ of biofuel production are made clear to producers, policy makers and end users".

Dr Vincent Gauci, Senior Lecturer in Earth Systems and Ecosystem Science at The Open University, and corresponding author said: “Essentially, ancient carbon is being dissolved out of Asian peatlands as they are increasingly being turned over to agriculture to meet global demands for food and biofuels. This has led to a large increase in carbon loss from Southeast Asian rivers draining peatland ecosystems - up by 32 per cent over the last 20 years, which is more than half the entire annual carbon loss from all European peatlands.  The destruction of the Asian peat swamps is a globally significant environmental disaster, but unlike deforestation of the Amazon, few people know that it is happening”.

The authors concluded that their results increase the urgency for protecting these ecosystems from ongoing destruction for oil palm and other uses. 

Deep instability of deforested tropical peatlands revealed by fluvial organic carbon fluxes is published in Nature (doi:10.1038/nature11818).

Postgraduate Open Evening

The Department of Geography will be taking part in a Postgraduate Open Evening on Tuesday 19 March 2013 (4.00-7.00 pm) at the O2 Academy, Percy Gee Building (Students' Union).

We run a number of very successful masters courses focussing on a range of vocational areas related to geography. These include a number of very applied courses that lead to employment (eg the MSc in GIS, MSc in Geospatial Intelligence) as well as allowing you to develop relevant skills in important employment areas (eg MSc in Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, MSc in Global Environmental Change) or provide a gateway to careers in research (eg the MRes in Geography).

Members of the post-graduate teaching team will be attending this event and will be able to answer any questions you may have about these courses. Additionally, current students from the courses will be available to talk to about their experiences and there will be specific talks about the Geography MSc courses at 5.00pm and 6.00pm in one of the Student Union Meeting rooms. These will focus particularly on Geography Post-Graduate and MRes opportunities.

View further information and book a place.

View details of how to find us and view the main campus map.

Dr Peter Kraftl wins RCUK funding to develop a Sustainable Science vignette

Peter Kraftl has won £1,750 of Research Councils UK funding to develop a vignette that will contribute to CPD geography and science teachers. The RCUK funding enables the network of Science Learning Centres to deliver an initiative called 'Bringing Cutting Edge Science into the Classroom'.

The initiative helps teachers to inspire students through a better understanding of advances in scientific research, by improving teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the science concepts underlying the research. Dr Kraftl will be working with the East Midlands Regional Science Learning Centre and colleagues from the ESRC-funded New Urbanisms, New Citizens research project to develop a vignette focussing on sustainable urban planning, and residents' experiences of sustainable urban design features.

For further information, please contact Dr Kraftl:

The New Urbanisms, New Citizens research project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, grant reference number RES-062-23-1549.

Lecturer in Geographical Information Science/Remote Sensing

As part of its ongoing development the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research, University of Leicester, is seeking to appoint a Lecturer in Geographic Information Science / Remote Sensing.

We aim to appoint a candidate whose research interests add to the research centre’s strategy and complement the GIScience and Remote Sensing Research Group in the Department of Geography. This post will predominantly strengthen the evolution of the centre’s research programme and contribute elements to the teaching programme in the Department of Geography. You should have a relevant PhD, a strong publication record and evidence of research excellence. You will be required to supervise PhD students, win research grants and teach on undergraduate and/or postgraduate programmes including supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation students.

Closing date for applications: 11 April 2013.
View further details

Department of Geography 90th Anniversary Celebrations

The Department of Geography is proud to be celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year and we would like to invite you to join us in celebrating this landmark occasion.

The celebrations start at the University’s Summer Reunion weekend on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 June. The weekend begins on the evening of Friday 28th June, with a ‘White Rose Ball’ organised by the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office. This will be an opportunity for you to join fellow alumni and friends for a night of fine dining, music, dancing and socialising throughout the evening. The event will be attended by academics and representatives from the Geography Department and we would be delighted if you could join us in our 90th anniversary celebrations. You are also welcome to book a table, should you wish to meet up as a group with fellow alumni and friends.

The celebrations continue on campus with the Summer Reunion Open Day on Saturday 29 June, when we will be opening the Department with various hands-on events/talks/tours etc.  At 3.00 p.m. we intend to have tea in the Department at which a cake will be cut to commemorate the occasion.  This will be followed by a buffet and wine reception.  A programme of the day will be available nearer the time, and will be posted on the Department’s web pages.

More information, including a full programme of events and booking forms for both the Summer Reunion White Rose Ball and Open Day will be available soon on the Summer Reunion web pages.

90th Anniversary logoWe are also producing a book entitled ‘Changing Places, Changing Spaces: 90 Years of Geography at Leicester’ which will be available to purchase for approx. £20 at the Summer Reunion weekend or via ‘’.

Other key events in the Department’s 2013 calendar include:

  • GIS Group 25th Anniversary Conference/Workshop (end August/beginning September)
  • Annual Lecture (lunchtime - Tuesday 10 December 2013): ‘A Tale of two Gulfs: The Accumulation of Insecurity and the Biopolitics of Risk in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Guinea’  by Professor Michael Watts (Berkeley University, USA)

Venues, times and further details for these events will also be posted, when available, on the Department’s web pages.
We would be delighted to see as many of you as possible at this year’s events and for you to share in our 90th Anniversary celebrations. Please keep checking the Summer Reunion and Department of Geography web pages for further information and details of how to book.

We look forward to seeing you!

Professor Susan Page
Head of Department

Professor Heiko Balzter in call for new satellite system to monitor world’s forests

A new system of satellites will be needed to monitor the world's forests as part of the United Nations REDD+ programme for reducing emissions from forest degradation, argues Professor Heiko Balzter and colleagues in a Comment piece in this week's Nature.

The REDD+ working group of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which meets in Bonn, Germany, later this month, must choose a system of satellites now that will be capable of mapping tropical forests at suitable resolutions and timescales.

Current plans for monitoring tropical forests are not up to the task and "lack ambition and an understanding of the potential of satellites", the authors, led by Jim Lynch of the University of Surrey, write. The tropics cover almost half of Earth's land area, and forests are subject to illegal logging and conversion to agricultural uses, all of which needs to be tracked for the REDD+ programme to succeed.

Professor Balzter and colleagues say that, in particular, two Earth observation systems will be needed. A constellation of five radar satellites must be built and launched to provide daily monitoring to spot illegal logging, which, as well as damaging forests, costs governments billions of dollars a year in lost timber and carbon credits. And the operation of a network of optical satellites — including existing ones such as Landsat — must be agreed, with a ground crew to manage it and to carry out weekly to monthly monitoring of forests to capture seasonal changes. The UNFCCC must accept that such systems will be needed, and prepare guidelines now for how they will be delivered and implemented by governments.

“We urge policy-makers to back the right satellites and strategies to monitor and save the world’s forests,” the authors conclude.

Professor Heiko Balzter; 0116 252 3820

INQUA Loess 2013 – First call for papers

Inqua Loess focus group workshop event 10-12 September 2013

Following the successful ‘Windy Day’ meeting at Leicester in 2012 the INQUA Loess Focus Group is organising a workshop at the Geography Department, Leicester University 10-12 September 2013.

‘Loess & Dust: Geography-Geology-Archaeology’

A meeting dedicated to interfaces between the various involved disciplines; also focussing on new regions where loess exploration and investigation is happening, geotechnical aspects of loess and new techniques to date and characterise loess material, and in particular aiming to look at the human/loess interface. Loess had a critical role to play in the development of human society.

The meeting will be held in honour of Professor Ian Smalley for his outstanding contribution to loess research over more than fifty years. Ian “pioneered fundamental studies of loess origin, lithologic characteristics and depositional processes” (Dodonov and Zhou, 2008). It is a residential workshop lasting 2 days followed by a 1 day field trip to the UK's best examples of loess deposits in the SE of England.
Find a bit more detail at the Loess Focus Group website and top-up on your Loess Letter exposure. Please register your interest and start to prepare an abstract. We follow Walt Whitman and head ‘towards the unknown region.’

The cost of the 3-day meeting, which includes lunch, tea/coffee and a fieldtrip on 12th September is £225.00. The cost to register for one day is £80.00.

If you wish to register please send an email to show interest:

Dr Sue McLaren
Professor Ken O'Hara-Dhand or

Undergraduate Year Abroad Blog

Find out what it's like to take a year abroad with Geography in Australia.

BSc Geography student Natalie Weatherill blogs about her experience as one of our first students to go to Flinders University, Adelaide.

View Natalie's blog

Research Seminars for Semester 1

All seminars take place on Thursdays in the Seminar Room F75a, first floor, Bennett Building at 4pm unless otherwise stated

31 October 2013: Dr Donatella Zona University of Sheffield
‘Impact of climate change on greenhouse gas exchange and vegetation functioning of arctic tundra’
Chair: Dr Joerg Kaduk

14 November 2013: Dr Frank Mayle University of Reading
‘Amazonia in AD1492 -- Virgin Wilderness or Domesticated Landscape?’
Chair: Dr Nick Tate

21 November 2013:  Professor Steve Hinchliffe University of Exeter
‘Plagues, pandemics and biosecurity - practising immunity, making vulnerabilities and thinking onto-politically’
Chair: Dr Ben Coles

28 November 2013:  Dr Dan Swanton University of Edinburgh
‘Multicultural atmospheres: narratives of living with difference in a northern mill town’
Chair: Dr Katy Bennett

5 December 2013:  Dr Didier Leibovici University of Nottingham
Chair: Dr Lex Comber

12 December 2013:  Dr Fiona Gill University of Leeds
Chair: Dr Arnoud Boom

Science and Engineering: an enterprising college

27 November 2013, 12.30-3.00, Belvoir Park lounge - Charles Wilson second floor

Enterprise and business engagement is becoming increasingly important in academia; it opens up opportunities for research and offers new ways of generating income.

This workshop will help you identify how you can benefit from working with industry and explain how you can get involved.

Topics covered will include:

  • Presentations from fellow Science and Engineering academics who have benefitted from enterprise
  • Technology transfer and intellectual property
  • Contract and collaborative research
  • Building industrial networks

Join us on 27 November 2013 in the Belvoir Park lounge, Charles Wilson second floor for lunch at 12.30, with presentations from 1.00-3.00.

The event is aimed at academics, technical staff and post docs in the College of Science and Engineering who are interested in finding out more about enterprise and how the Enterprise and Business Development team affiliated to the College can help.

Places are limited so booking is essential – email Business Development Executive Maggy Heintz on to reserve your place.

New NERC investment in Doctoral Training Partnerships

Yesterday, the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, announced £100 million of new NERC investment in fifteen Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs), which will specialise in training environmental science PhD students.

The DTPs will support 1200 PhD students across fifteen partnerships. This means at least 240 new students will begin training every year for five years, with the opportunity for partners to co-fund, boosting the number of studentships available. The Department of Geography is delighted to announce that it will be a partner in the successful CENTA DTP - comprising the University of Leicester, University of Warwick, University of Birmingham, University of Loughborough, the Open University, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the British Geological Survey.

Professor Sue Page, Head of the Department of Geography, said: "I am absolutely delighted to see that our high quality research in physical geography and GIS/remote sensing is being recognised by the award of a doctoral training partnership for the CENTA group of universities. I look forward to welcoming into the department our first cohort of PhD students funded by this research training award scheme." Dr Nick Tate, departmental Director of Postgraduate Research, was in agreement. "PhD students are vital for a healthy research environment. To be supported by NERC in this way is a wonderful opportunity for all those pursing environmental research in the department.

For students interested in pursuing a PhD in Geography, we anticipate advertising the research topics on within the coming weeks.

New Self Funded PhD Opportunity

This exciting PhD opportunity investigates the power relations, politics and experiences that affect heritage production and what this means for museums documenting industrial heritage.

Project title: Industrial heritage and engaging museums
PhD Supervisor:
Dr. Katy Bennett
Application Deadline: Applications accepted all year round
Funding Availability: Self-Funded PhD Students Only
If you have the correct qualifications and access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances, your application to work with this supervisor will be considered.

Project details

This exciting PhD opportunity investigates the power relations, politics and experiences that affect heritage production and what this means for museums documenting industrial heritage.  It works at the interface of academic discussion that considers the dangers and challenges of heritage and the practical needs of (a) museum/s focused on engaging with a range of stakeholders that include local communities, experts, policy makers, practitioners, funders and visitors to tell the story of how industrial heritage has impacted on lives.

This project comes at a time when museums want to cater for a growing visitor appetite for industrial heritage, raising questions regarding the kind of heritage represented. Whose voices get heard?  How is ‘difficult heritage’ that might cause pain represented?  These questions are loaded with further challenges concerning a museum’s broader political and commercial context that includes satisfying funding requirements, remaining commercially viable, attracting inter/national audiences, stimulating learning and contributing to broader regeneration agenda.

Project aims:

  1. To draw upon the expertise and concerns of museum professionals and local communities regarding heritage and the cultural, economic and political context of its production and display;
  2. To address the process of heritage production and the power relations, politics and experiences that shape this. As part of this, investigate:
  • local understandings, interpretations and representations of industrial heritage of different stakeholders (potentially) connected with industrial heritage production;
  • how selected museum(s) are used, encountered and experienced by visitors and staff and how this affects the production of heritage.


The studentship will employ an innovative, mixed method approach underpinned by a) the strategies, components and technologies of interpretation, representation and display developed by museum professionals; b) research practices that engage with how industrial heritage and museums are experienced; and c) iterative learning through working with museum stakeholders to develop research practices.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have a first-class or high upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in geography and meet the University’s standard English language entry requirements.

Informal Enquiries

Informal enquiries are welcome – please contact Dr Katy Bennett

Apply Now

To apply, simply follow our three-point checklist:

  1. Draft a brief (up to 1,000 words) personal statement explaining why you would like to work in this area and describing any relevant research experience, including any research projects that you have undertaken - for example, as part of a previous degree.
  2. Prepare your supporting documents
  3. Submit your online application or apply by post
    The studentship will remain open until filled - so early application is encouraged.  Applications that do not include a full personal statement and the required supporting documents will not be considered.

Tuition Fees

For more information on tuition fees, click here

90th Anniversary Celebration - Annual Geography Lecture

The Politics of Performing Diverse Economies, Professor Katherine Gibson, University of Western Sydney, Australia

Event details


Mar 12, 2014
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM


Lecture Theatre 1, Ken Edwards Building

Add event to calendar

Katherine Gibson is Professorial Fellow in the Institute of Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney. She is a co-founder of the Community Economies Collective ( which is an international network of researchers interested in building ethical economies for the future. An economic geographer by training, she has directed action research projects with communities interested in alternative economic development pathways in Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines.

In 2008 she made a 50 minute film on social enterprise development as a local development strategy in the Philippines. Her books with the late Julie Graham, published under the authorship of J.K. Gibson-Graham, include The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy and A Postcapitalist Politics. They enjoy an international readership and have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Turkish and Korean. Her most recent book co-authored with Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy is entitled Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide For Transforming Communities and is published by University of Minnesota Press in 2013.

Download the event poster here

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