plastic bags and other plastic waste floating in the ocean

Turning the tide on plastic packaging pollution

Help tackle plastic pollution with a funded PhD studentship

It is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used in the UK each year, nearly half of which is packaging which often ends up in the environment. Plastic waste is accumulating and breaking down in our oceans at an alarming rate, with potentially catastrophic results for both people and the planet

In order to develop meaningful solutions to plastic pollution, it is vital to better understand the products causing the pollution, how they pollute and how their damage can be reduced and, ideally, avoided altogether. 

Revolution Plastics is forming a new and innovative cluster of PhD students in Portsmouth, dedicated to finding solutions to the global plastic crisis. The cohort of five students will explore the complex problem of marine pollution from plastic packaging. This interdisciplinary research programme is being supported by UK based material technologies company Aquapak, aiming to harness individual and collective discoveries to deliver actionable strategies that can be taken to confront the global plastic crisis.

The programme’s impact: 

  • Drive holistic solutions to the problem of plastic packaging pollution that span the supply chain
  • Development of new, critical knowledge in scientific endeavour tied to marine pollution, microplastics, enzyme recycling and plastic product design and manufacturing
  • Support for industry best practice and complementary government policy to create a sustainable plastics packaging economy
  • Establishment of an innovative, problem-solving research approach that fosters emerging research talent, led by leading scientists across multiple disciplines

PhDs and their focus

There are three projects starting in April 2023, and two starting in October 2023

Starting in April 2023 

Led by Professor Andy Pickford, Centre for Enzyme Innovation

Applications for this project have closed 

Project code: BIOL8010223

Email to discuss your interest before you apply

Led by Professor Hom Dhakal, School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, and Professor Alex Ford, Institute of Marine Sciences

Applications for this project have closed 

Project code: SMDE8130223

Email to discuss your interest before you apply

Led by Professor Steve Fletcher, Global Plastics Policy Centre

The application deadline for this project is 12 March 2023

Project code: SEGG8150323

Email to discuss your interest before you apply

Starting in October 2023

Further information on these projects will be available soon

Led by Professor Andy Pickford, Centre for Enzyme Engineering 

The application deadline for this project is 6 April 2023

More information on this project will be available shortly. Professor Andy Pickford also has a project starting this April.

Email to discuss your interest before you apply

Led by Dr Fay Couceiro, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

The application deadline for this project is 3 April 2023

Project code: SCES8140223

Email to discuss your interest before you apply

29/04/2019.Steve Fletcher - University of Portsmouth ....All Rights Reserved - Helen Yates- T: +44 (0)7790805960.Local copyright law applies to all print & online usage. Fees charged will comply with standard space rates and usage for that country, region or state.

Research is key to shaping our understanding of the transformational changes needed to create a circular plastics economy. Having a dedicated team of scientists is really going to help accelerate our search for solutions.

Professor Steve Fletcher , Director of Revolution Plastics and the Global Plastics Policy Centre, at the University of Portsmouth

Funding information and eligibility

The studentships cover University of Portsmouth tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £17,668 (2022/23 rate) for three and a half years. Each studentship is supported by a research fund to cover the cost of lab expenses.

Studentships are open to UK and EU students.

Entry Requirements 

You must have qualifications equivalent to a good honours degree (first- or upper second-class level) from a UK academic higher education institution. Degree qualifications gained from outside the UK, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience that is equivalent to a relevant UK degree, may be accepted.  English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0

How to apply

Get in touch with the named project supervisor to discuss your interest before you apply. Forwarding your CV and an outline of your research idea would help speed up the process.

When you are ready to apply, use the online application form link found in the project advert, making sure you submit all the required documentation before the application deadline. 

Please note: If you want to be considered for these funded PhD opportunities you must quote the project code provided when applying.

Application deadline

The application deadline is 28 February 2023 for projects due to start in April 2023 and 3 April 2023 for the October 2023 start projects. 

Our plastics research

Revolution Plastics

From developing sustainable fashion to combatting microplastics, we’re putting our research into practice, working with local groups, organisations, businesses and individuals to solve the planet's plastic problem.

Fashion design by Ashley Sookhai Bassett. Photo by Tom Buller.
Find out more

Centre for Enzyme Innovation

At the Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we're researching solutions to some of the most pressing global environmental problems.

petri dish from centre for enzyme research
Explore our research

Centre for Blue Governance

Aquatic environments cover more than 70% of the earth's surface – find out how our Centre for Blue Governance is securing the future of the planet's marine and freshwaters

blue governance
Read more