NUAcT PhD in Physical Geography – Identifying the morphological footprints of anthropogenic activities in the Red River delta, Vietnam

About the Project

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2021 for 3 years.


Human activities such as hydropower dam construction, riverine sand extraction and flood control structures have resulted in major changes to the hydrology, sediment regimes and flood dynamics of many of the world’s river systems (Dunn et al., 2019; Grill et al., 2019). As a result, reduced sediment loads, bed incision and delta sinking are affecting the social-ecosystem services that delta regions provide. Although the morphological signatures of these anthropogenic impacts are well quantified (Skalak et al., 2013; Gibson and Shelley, 2020; Hackney et al., 2020), in many catchments the compounding or synergistic impacts of these individual activities are hard to disentangle and so intervention and remediation strategies remain poorly targeted.

This PhD will combine high-resolution field data collection and satellite imagery to unpick the compound morphological signatures of anthropogenic activities on the Red River catchment in northern Vietnam. The project will provide the first dataset detailing the spatial distribution and reach of human actions on the morphology of the Red River catchment, and resultant impacts on sediment load and availability to the delta. Morphological footprints, or signatures, for each activity will be identified for key reaches in the delta to help define sustainable delta management plans. This project will benefit substantially from integration with the UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub and the PhD student will be able to use the extensive research network in the Hub and benefit from ongoing Hub field activity in the Red River delta in terms of logistics and additional datasets as they emerge through the GCRF Hub’s activity.

Dunn et al., (2019), Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/ab304e; Grill et al., (2019), Nature, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1111-9; Gibson and Shelley (2020) Geomorphology, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2019.106973; Hackney et al. (2020), Nature Sustainability, doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0455-3; Skalak et al., (2013), Anthropocene, doi: 10.1016/j.ancene.2013.10.002.


Newcastle University (NUAcT fellowship)

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Christopher Hackney and Professor Andy Large, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Eligibility Criteria

The successful applicant must have a Masters qualification or equivalent.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this select ‘Apply now’

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8201F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD Physical Geography – Geography as a Science’ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code GPSNA5 in the studentship/partnership reference field.

Applicants should provide a CV, a research proposal of up to 750 words, a one-page personal statement and the details of two referees.


Funding Notes

Full tuition fees at the Home or International rate plus an annual maintenance grants equivalent to the National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (currently for 2020/21 this is £15,285) across 3 years. Significant additional funding is available to cover research costs including local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).