Funded (UK students only)

Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October 2024

Application deadline

30 June 2024

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Technology, and will be supervised by Professor Fay Couceiro and Dr Keiron Roberts.

Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a yearly stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£19,237 per annum for 2024/25). 

The work on this project could involve:

  • Marine Policy
  • Large dataset collation and analysis
  • Understanding microplastics, underwater sound, eDNA/biodiversity 
  • Outreach

In 2022 the University of Portsmouth and GB Row Challenge teamed up to create a project that brings together marine sport and marine science. Throughout a 2,000 mile row around the UK, samples of microplastics, environmental DNA (eDNA), noise, temperature and salinity will be gathered by rowers with a range of sensors and equipment attached to their vessels, making this a race with a purpose. One PhD student is already employed on the project to analyse the samples collected by the rowers. 

This new, successful PhD candidate will work alongside the supervisory team, the GB Row Challenge team and the other PhD student on the project. To enact change it is essential that policy makers and the general public are interested, involved and empowered by what we are doing. To that end this PhD will incorporate the GB Row data sets with others collected around UK waters from multiple sources, perform outreach, and write a white paper on the power of using platforms of opportunity to provide data with a low carbon footprint. There will be a particular emphasis on how Marine Conservation Zones and areas hosting conservation projects are faring and how noise pollution changes as free ports are introduced.

The strength of this project lies in the interdisciplinary approach taken and the candidate will need to be willing to work with experts in a range of disciplines bringing them together with the aid of the supervisors.

As part of the PhD a certain amount of outreach will be required to engage with stakeholders, policymakers and possibly media during the races.  

Alongside the PhD group with the School, the candidate will also become a part of the PhD Microplastics Research group which provides a rich research environment spanning many disciplines and the Revolution Plastics Institute, with it’s internationally recognised plastics policy work with the United Nations. 

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. 

If English is not your first language an English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.



  • Strong data analysis skills will be required. The candidate will need to be comfortable working with large data sets and compiling them from multiple sources.
  • Experience in policy is wanted, preferably marine policy. 
  • Strong communication skills are essential as the candidate will engage with stakeholders and in outreach.


How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Prof Fay Couceiro ( 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 SCES9230824 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.



This project is only open to students with Home fee status:

  • UK nationals
  • Irish nationals
  • EU, EEA or Swiss nationals benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively.