Dùthchas: locating and nourishing cultural roots of Scotland's land reform revolution

Dùthchas: locating and nourishing cultural roots of Scotland's land reform revolution

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 21st January 2020

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: May 2020 or September 2020 depending on availability of successful candidate

For queries contact: study.cawr@coventry.ac.uk

The project

This research will investigate the cultural and historical roots of Scotland’s contemporary community-led land reform revolution. Over the last twenty-five years half-a-million acres of land have become community owned, mainly in the country's Gaelic-speaking Highlands. This revolution has helped reverse population decline, create jobs and develop local economies, in an area previously considered to need externally-led policy interventions. Cultural heritage and Gaelic language have been central to this transformation.

In particular, local development projects have repeatedly focused around dùthchas, a Gaelic concept of the relationship between people and place. One project argued dùthchas 'speaks of strong, united, self-sufficient communities who actively look after their people, their heritage and their environment ... the essence of sustainability'. However, although dùthchas was invoked historically during resistance to Highland Clearances, the historical record has not been systematically assessed to understand what dùthchas has meant for generations of Gaelic speakers, and its role in helping them to make sense of their world and engage in land-based revolutions. The project addresses this lacuna, returning dùthchas to communities for which it has been a binding force and with potential to disclose international alignments with politically activated land-based traditions of other historically marginalised groups such as Maori and First Nations.


This is a full studentship, which includes tuition fees and living expenses for a doctoral candidate over 3.5 years.

Stipend rates set by UKRI with an annual projected average increase of 1.25% per year. Stipend for the first year will be £15,009.

An additional £4,500 has been allocated for fieldwork, training and conference attendance. The successful candidate will also receive an allowance of £500 per annum for professional expenses.


Academic Environment

Coventry University has been the UK’s top modern university for seven consecutive years (Guardian University Guide 2013-2019) and holds a number of other prestigious accolades. Established in 2014 through substantial university investment, the Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience (CAWR) is rapidly building a global reputation for transdisciplinary research into processes of resilience in social-ecological systems. Among its key lines of research is work focusing on modelling of water and food systems, aided by high performance computing facilities.

Training and Development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • Gaelic speaker preferable
  • Driving license desirable
  • Experience and/or knowledge of community development and/or land reform in Scotland desirable

How to apply

To find out more about the project please email Iain MacKinnon, 07557425308.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Apply to Coventry University