Project code



School of Biological Sciences

Start dates

February and October

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

This 3-year self-funded PhD will be based in the School of Biological Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Gordon Watson, Dr Roger Herbert (Bournemouth University) and Dr Steve Mitchell.

The work on this project will look at:

  • the historical and current extent of inter-tidal fisheries within the MPAs
  • the impact of inter-tidal fisheries on the bioavailability of sediment-bound pollutants
  • how ecosystem function is affected by inter-tidal fisheries
  • the population-level impacts of inter-tidal fisheries on wading birds

Harvesting the sea shore is an integral part of coastal life, but at local, national and global scales these inter-tidal fisheries are highly valuable, extract significant biomass and have considerable impacts.

They urgently require governance equivalent to other offshore fisheries, but critical gaps in our understanding of these data-limited activities remain, and these gaps currently prevent the implementation of evidence-based fisheries and resource management for coastal regions, especially within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

The Solent and Poole European Marine Sites (MPAs) on the south coast of the UK provides a unique opportunity to assess the extent and impacts of these fisheries, as they support high levels of bait, clam, cockle and oyster collection, each operating at different spatial scales and utilising different methods.

This project is designed to assess the extent of these fisheries and evaluate the impact of these collection methods on habitats, target and non-target species and the function that these deliver (i.e. ecosystem services). The project will also provide evidence to support effective management strategies that will meet future UK and European conservation, economic and social priorities.

The successful candidate will have opportunities to acquire a diverse set of skills including macrofaunal sampling and identification, trace metal and sediment analysis, GIS mapping, aerial photography, assessments of functional traits and hydrodynamic modelling. You'll also work closely with the relevant agencies including the Solent Forum, Natural England and The Southern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Agency and be part of the vibrant Ecotoxicology and Environmental Monitoring Group.

In addition, you’ll have access to the Graduate School Development Programme and Department Postgraduate Researcher Training. Expected career opportunities would be academic research as well as conservation and fisheries resource management for government agencies, NGOs and environmental consultancies in the UK and beyond.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry requirements

  • You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum 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

How to apply

Please contact Dr Gordon Watson ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Biological Siences PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. 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.

Please note, to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code BIOL4890219 when applying.