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 five areas of research excellence: Earth observation and remote sensing; biogeochemical cycling; biodiversity and molecular science; marine ecosystem modelling; and socioeconomics of ecosystem goods and services.

These PhD opportunities are developed with partners from 2 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)

For information on the specific projects PML scientists are supervising please see the information below.
Please note that the application process and deadlines differ between DTPs.  

If you're interested in applying for one of the PhD projects and would like to find out more and meet with potential supervisors and existing students there will be a PhD Open Day at Plymouth Marine Laboratory on the 25th November 2019. Further details will be announced in due course.

See what some of our current PhD students have been working on: 

The PhD projects hosted at PML are as follows:

ARIES Partnership

Lead Supervisor


Project Title

Dr Frances Hopkins

Prof Penelope Lindeque (PML)
Dr Gillian Malin (UEA, ENV)
Prof P Liss (UEA)

Do microplastics enhance marine trace gas production?

Dr Matthew Cole

Prof Penelope Lindeque (PML)
Dr Trevor Tolhurst (UEA)

Developing ecological solutions to plastic pollution

Prof Melanie Austen

Prof Steve Widdicombe (PML)
Dr Lauren Biermann (PML)
Prof Martin Attrill (University of Plymouth)
Dr Laurence Coulrick (Westcountry Rivers Trust)
Prof Christine Maggs (JNCC)

Intertidal seagrass meadows in South West England: the ecological and socio-economical benefits of restoration

For further information on the projects individuals are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor directly.

Deadline for applications: 12:00 7th January, 2020

The following tables hold information in which PML will be co-supervising PhD projects within doctoral training partnerships but not directly leading these projects. For information relating to these projects please contact the lead supervisor at the relevant DTP. 

ARIES Partnership

Lead Supervisor


Project Title

Prof  Jonathan Todd

Dr Ruth Airs (PML)
Dr Frances Hopkins (PML) 
Dr S Moxon (UEA, BIO)

Who cycles DMSP in coastal waters and how?

Dr Manuela Truebano
(University of Plymouth)

Dr Helen Findlay (PML)
Professor Melody Clark (British Antarctic Survey)
Dr Rezende (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile)

Adapting to climate change: transgenerational acclimation as a mechanism of rapid evolution

Prof Mark Fitzsimons (University of Plymouth)

Dr Ruth Airs (PML)
Dr Gill Malin (UEA, School of ENV)
Dr Ussher (University of Plymouth, SoGEES)

How will marine microalgae react to a changing nitrogen balance in the ocean?

For further information on the projects individuals are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor directly.

Deadline for applications: 12:00 7th January, 2020

NERC GW4+ Partnership


Lead Supervisor


Project Title

N Puegeault
(University of Exeter)

Dr James Clark (PML)
Mrs Elaine Fileman (PML)
Mrs Claire Widdicombe (PML)

Machine Learning for Automatic Plankton Detection, Identification and Quantification. PhD in Computer Science

Dr Robert Brewin
(University of Exeter)

Dr Giorgio Dall’Olmo (PML)
Dr Angus Atkinson (PML)
Dr Katy Sheen (University of Exeter)

Arctic and Antarctic ocean fluorescence: Towards a new view of the health and structure of the living polar oceans using satellite, ship-based and robotic platforms. PhD in Geography

Dr Ian Ashton
(University of Exeter)

Dr Tom Bell (PML)
Dr Mingxi Yang (PML)

New methods for calculating the oceans role in absorbing key greenhouse gases. PhD in Renewable Energy

Dr Katherine Helliwell
(University of Exeter; Marine Biological Association)

Professor Gáspár Jékely (University of Exeter)
Dr Adam Monier (University of Exeter)
Professor Mike Allen (University of Exeter; PML)
Dr Glen Wheeler (Marine Biological Association)

Bloom busters: understanding how phytoplankton defend against grazers. PhD in Biosciences

Katharine Hendry
(University of Bristol)

Jeffrey Krause (Dauphin Island/University of South Alabama)
Morten Anderson (Cardiff University)
Christopher Coath (University of Bristol)
Malcolm Woodward (Plymouth Marine Laboratory)

Seafloor nutrient factories: The use of silicon and germanium isotopes to investigate early marine sediment diagenesis

Dr Jo Browse
(University of Exeter)

Dr Mingxi Yang (PML)
Dr Katy Sheen (University of Exeter)

Will ship emitted black carbon drive warming in the Arctic and North Atlantic? PhD in Geography


For further information on the projects individuals are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor directly.

Deadline for applications: 16:00 6th January, 2020