Postdoctoral Research Fellow GIS & Landscape Modelling

Starting salary: £31,656 (AC-2)


Applications are invited for a three-year, full-time fully funded research fellowship position in GIS and landscape modelling, to contribute to the AHRC/Xuan Truong Enterprise funded research project Human Adaptation to Coastal Evolution: Late Quaternary evidence from Southeast Asia (SUNDASIA) – PI: Ryan Rabett (Queen’s University Belfast), CI: Fiona Coward (Bournemouth University), CI: Tran Tan Van (Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources). The appointment will be based at Queen’s University Belfast.

SUNDASIA explores how prehistoric communities adapted to three cycles of coastal inundation over the last 60,000 years in northern Vietnam. Data emerging from the project will extend our current knowledge of prehistory in the tropics. It will also be used to inform models and responses to modern climate-induced rising seas in Southeast Asia – where sea-levels are currently increasing at three times the global average. The project is centred on the Tràng An Landscape Complex World Heritage site, Ninh Binh province, Vietnam.


GIS are one of the most powerful modern tools used in archaeological data-processing. They permit researchers to analyse large quantities of data drawn from different sources and to map, model and query relationships between datasets within a single database.

The PDRF will work with sea-level, chronometric, topographic (Digital Elevation Models), and geological data obtained for Tràng An’s World Heritage nomination by the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources (VIGMR), with whom they shall liaise closely. The principal outcome of this work, which will involve additional survey and mapping fieldwork where required, will be the preparation of detailed digital maps collating all available information on the extent and evolution of each of the three marine transgressions recorded around the Tràng An massif: the Quang Xuong (c. 2600-1500 cal. years before present [BP]), the Dong Da (Flandrian) (c. 7000-4000 cal. BP) and the little known Vinh Phuc transgression (c. 59,000-30,000 BP).

The PDRF will then undertake further data acquisition in the field, and explore through GIS terrain mapping the relationship between Tràng An’s record of archaeological sites and its landscape (including characteristics such as slope orientation and ratio, geology, proximity to water, elevation, vegetation type, orientation of cave entrance, distance to raw material sources). Through analysis of the interrelationships between these variables, the PDRF will ultimately assess the factors influencing patterns of forager settlement in the context of landscape evolution across the three cycles of marine transgression and regression recorded in the region.


In the first year, the PDRF will focus on the collation of existing data (and where relevant addition of new field-collected data) to create detailed base-line maps of the extent of three marine transgression-regression cycles preserved around the Tràng An massif and broad associated palaeoenvironments, extending back to c. 59,000 years ago. This research will be undertaken in close collaboration with the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources.

Upon successful and satisfactory completion of this initial work package, in years two and three the PDRF will collate, process and integrate archaeological, geological, palaeoenvironmental and any other relevant data arising from SUNDASIA’s other work-streams with the aim of assessing the potential relationships between changing settlement patterns and coastal evolution of the landscape during each of the three inundation cycles under consideration. The ramifications of any observed relationships for modern economic and climate change scenarios will also be examined.


The PDRF will be expected to take an active role in assisting with project management, including assisting with the maintenance of the project website.


The successful applicant will have a PhD in archaeology and GIS, or a closely related field. The appointment will be based at Queen’s University Belfast. Project mentoring will be provided by Dr Rabett and Dr Coward in the UK. Technical support in GIS will be available through the School of Geography, Archaeology & Palaeoecology/Natural & Build Environment, which holds a world-class reputation and state-of-the-art technologies in GIS, GNSS, LiDAR, photogrammetry and remote sensing systems.

This appointment will involve recurring periods of fieldwork in a tropical country. The PDRF will be expected to participate fully in field excavations and as well as conduct data-collection pertaining to their own position. Applicants are, therefore, strongly advised to take into account their level of physical fitness, field experience and resilience, as well as academic capabilities when preparing their application.


The PDRF will be expected to liaise on a regular basis with project colleagues; build internal contacts and participate in internal networks for the exchange of information and to form relationships for future collaboration. They will also be expected to join external networks to share information and ideas where relevant and appropriate. They will also be asked to contribute to the Project’s (and the School’s) outreach programme, establishing links with local community groups, industries.

Closing date: 29th August, 2016. Apply online at The appointment starts on 1 October 2016.

Job reference number: 16/104801

Please include contact details of three referees (at least two of which must be academic) with your application. For assistance with the application procedure please contact:

*The University reserves the right to appoint below this scale if it is deemed to be appropriate and without compromise to the integrity of the research undertaking.

†Limit of tenure: 3 years (until 30 Sept 2019)

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