Funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October 2021

Application deadline

4 May 2021 (12.00pm GMT)

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2021. 

The PhD will be based in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying and will be supervised by Dr Peter Cruddas

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available; these cover tuition fees at the UK rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£15,609 for 2021/22). Bursary recipients will also receive a £1,500 p.a. for project costs/consumables. 

The work on this project could involve

  • Environmental surveys to identify sources of nitrate pollution in the South Hampshire catchment region.
  • Technical investigation of potential nitrate remediation technologies and practices, and a comparison of their suitability.
  • Engagement with local stakeholders such as developers, local authorities, and government bodies to discuss and develop a holistic approach to nitrate pollution management.

High nitrate concentrations in sensitive water bodies, such as the harbours and Solent around Portsmouth, cause environmental degradation through eutrophication and are now a major issue affecting development in the region. An EC legal ruling has led to all new development projects in sensitive catchments to be ‘nitrate neutral’. Achieving nitrate neutrality is a new and complex challenge that continues to impede development on England’s South coast, a region with ambitious housing targets and strong economic growth. To reduce the disruption to the development and construction industries (as well as all their associated trades), Natural England and local authorities rapidly compiled guidance and strategies to facilitate planning permissions. Whilst these responsive measures have enabled some quick fixes to parts of the development pipeline, a much more comprehensive investigation is required to ensure nitrate neutral solutions are both viable in the long-term, and effectively addressing the core issue of environmental pollution.

The proposed research will create an evidenced based nitrate reduction strategy, informed by greater understanding of nitrate sources and flows, and a holistic assessment of nitrate reduction options. This will provide councils and developers with greater options for achieving nitrate neutrality with long-term viability as well as generate targeted improvement the water quality of environmentally sensitive areas.

The project will address three areas: 

  1. Improving understanding of nitrate sources and their impact on water bodies, through a case study on the East Hampshire catchment.
  2. Thorough evaluation of existing nitrate reduction strategies, alongside generation of novel ideas for nitrate reduction. 
  3. Development of the existing Natural England nitrate budget calculator by providing improved evidence base for the values used.

The project will work closely with university colleagues from different disciplines, as well as local stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, and local authorities and developers. 

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

A background in, or knowledge of, water quality/treatment or environmental chemistry would be preferred but not essential.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Peter Cruddas ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SCES5910521 when applying.