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PhD studentships

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) works with a number of University partners to train tomorrow’s leaders in Environmental Science. These collaborations, known as Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs), offer postgraduate studentships and training across the full range of multidisciplinary environments, helping to enrich the student experience.

Each DTP will create a strong and active community of students that are able - and encouraged - to integrate, work, and learn together. Students will receive in-depth, advanced research training, as well as training in the professional and transferable skills essential in today's economy.  

PML is a multidisciplinary, internationally renowned, strategic marine research centre. We have a number of prestigious and exciting opportunities for outstanding students wishing to conduct PhD projects in our areas of research excellence: Earth Observation Science & Applications, Marine Systems Modelling, Marine Ecology and Biodiversity, Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations and Sea and Society.

These PhD opportunities are often developed with partners from 3 DTPs. Further details on each partnership can be found here:

  • ARIES (formerly EnvEast) (with the Universities of East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Plymouth and Royal Holloway University of London)
  • NERC GW4+ (with the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Cardiff)
  • SWBio (with the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter, alongside Rothamsted Research)

New PhD opportunities will be listed on this page when they become available, to be kept informed of new opportunities you may wish to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.


ARIES (Advanced Research and Innovation in the Environmental Sciences) projects: 


Project Description: Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is one of Earth’s most abundant organosulfur molecules and Ulva seaweeds, which cause green tides, are prolific DMSP producers. Ulva species produce DMSP as an anti-stress compound and can cleave DMSP to liberate the climate-cooling gas dimethylsulfide (DMS), but the precise role of DMSP in Ulva is unclear. Furthermore, DMSP released by Ulva into the environment has roles in signalling and recruiting beneficial bacteria, which use DMSP as a nutrient and facilitate further DMS production. 

This project will use multidisciplinary techniques to explore how and why Ulva makes and degrades DMSP and to study its interactions with associated bacteria that utilise the DMSP Ulva produces. 

Closing date for applications is 23:59 on 11th January 2023 

More information and apply >> 


Project description: Sulfur plays a key role in the marine atmosphere, and has a major influence on atmospheric particles and climate. Marine sulfur emissions result from natural biological processes as well as anthropogenic activities. Sulfur impacts the composition and acidity of atmospheric particles (aerosols), which is fundamental in atmospheric chemistry and relevant to air quality, ecosystems, and climate. 

The marine atmosphere is changing profoundly: Terrestrial regulations since the 1980s and a 2020 global mandate to reduce ship emissions seven-fold aimed to improve air quality and have significantly reduced anthropogenic sulfur emissions. Furthermore, recent discoveries of new atmospheric sulfur molecules are forcing a radical re-examination of the role of natural marine sulfur in the climate system. Natural/anthropogenic contributions to the marine sulfur burden and impacts on aerosol acidity are poorly understood because there has been no post-2020 assessment of the marine sulfur cycle. 

Closing date for applications is 23:59 on 11th January 2023 

More information and apply >> 


SuMMeR (Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources) Projects:


Project Description: The U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets on Health (Goal 3), Water quality (Goal 6), and Life under water (Goal 14) are all relevant to the study of waterborne pathogens such as Vibrios and E. coli. Understanding the factors that determine the distribution, survival and growth of these pathogens is particularly important for SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), which has the aim to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. 

In this PhD, you will undertake pioneering transdisciplinary research to explore waterborne pathogens in coastal waters, specifically in relation to the presence of seaweeds and seagrasses. You will use field and lab experiments to investigate the mechanisms driving positive or negative associations between pathogenic microbes and seaweeds and seagrasses and explore nature-based solutions to mitigate the problem of poor water quality. You will use-satellite-based tools to map pathogen risk in the presence and absence of seaweed and seagrass habitats. 

Closing date for applications is 16:00 on 17th January 2023 

More information and apply >> 


Project Description: This is an exciting opportunity to take part in a transdisciplinary PhD which will provide the post-holder with a wide range of skills to enable them to become an innovative, solution-driven researcher or practitioner, working at the science-policy interface. The project will cross the boundaries of natural, social and economic science to build on previous work and provide a holistic assessment of the provision of sandeel ecosystem services in Celtic Seas. 

Sandeels (Ammodytidae) are a key genus of forage fish within the Celtic Seas, and the UK as a whole. They provide a vital trophic link between zooplankton and higher predators including several commercial fish species, seabirds, seals, and cetaceans and provide multiple ecosystem service benefits. Understanding these will help communicate the benefits gained by the appropriate management and protection of their populations and habitat. As part of Defra’s Marine Natural Capital Ecosystem Assessment (mNCEA) programme, a natural capital account of the industrial sandeel fishery in the North Sea has been developed. This project used a natural capital extended balance sheet approach to capture changes in natural capital assets, ecosystem services and the value of the resulting benefits from different sandeel management scenarios. 

Closing date for applications is 16:00 on 17th January 2023 

More information and apply >> 


CDT SuMMeR also has more PhD studentship opportunities that Plymouth Marine Laboratory’s scientists are involved in as secondary supervisors, we would recommend viewing all of their opportunities on their website here. 

See what some of our past PhD students, now both Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows, did during their time at PML: 



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