Apply for a funded PhD position

We offer a range of PhDs funded by different sources, such as research councils, industries or charities. As a PhD student, you will become a valued member of a research group. Here you will work with internationally respected academics, post-doctoral research associates and technicians. Find out more about our research groups below.

How to Apply

To apply for a funded PhD please read the advertised project information carefully as requirements will vary between funders. The project information will include details of funding eligibility, application deadline dates and links to application forms. Only applicants who have a relevant background and meet the funding criteria can be considered.

Current PhD Opportunities

Accordion

  • Virtual labs for accountability in land use decision making around solar parks

    Supervisors: Dr Alona Armstrong (environment), a.armstrong@lancaster.ac.uk; Dr Bran Knowles (social science), b.h.knowles1@lancaster.ac.uk; or Professor Gordon Blair (computing), g.blair@lancaster.ac.uk

    Overview

    The rationale:

    ​​​​Why this project is important: Land use change for solar parks is accelerating but implications for biodiversity, natural capital and ecosystem services are poorly understood. This poses a risk that climate change impacts are swapped for local-scale ecosystem degradation and misses an opportunity to embed environmental co-benefits into energy system decarbonisation.Some companies actively invest in ecological enhancements but their efforts go unvalidated whilst others make claims that are not reinforced with action. However, there is increased emphasis on the quantification of environment impacts driven both by policy and industry. For example, biodiversity net gain will soon become mandatory for any development and the post-Brexit Agricultural Bill will include payment for natural capital and ecosystem services. Furthermore, industry Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) targets are increasing in response to public and stakeholder influence, and sustainable investment funds require robust environmental indicators to avoid criticisms of greenwashing.

    Proposed focus

    This PhD project will promote accountability of the environmental impacts of solar parks by focusing on design approaches to virtual labs — that is collaborative virtual spaces hosted in the cloud to integrate and analyse data and data-driven decision-making processes. This is fundamentally a cross-disciplinary study but we anticipate the research would be rooted in a social science perspective around accountability. However, the precise balance between the social, environmental and computational aspects will be determined by the candidate’s expertise and interests. The three pillars that the project will straddle are:

    • Environmental(Armstrong) – exploring existing environmental data, identifying suitable environmental indices and data analysis techniques for the virtual lab grounded in policy and industry needs.
    • Computational(Blair) – developing a cloud-based virtual lab with services for the integration and analyses of complex impacts data, and for transparent decision-making/policy development.
    • Social(Knowles) – exploring design affordances of the virtual lab that support accountability of environmental impacts, including how transparency and rich documentation enable new accountability practices, and how these engender trust.

    What’s in it for the candidate:

    The successful candidate will be researching at the interface of the climate and ecological emergencies, with scope for the outcomes to inform policy. They will develop a broad suite of relevant skillscutting across social, environmental and computational areas, with the precise mix dependant on the applicant’s interests and background. Given the relevance of the topic, they will also be involved in producing and communicating industry and policy orientated-outputs, providing additional developmental opportunities. The project is in collaboration with Eden Renewables, with whom they will undertake an internship (remit to be decided with the student) to gain experience of the industry. The student will be embedded in the Data Science Institute, who fund the PhD, and the supportive research teams of the supervisors. Collectively, this will offer a rich study environment with access to a wide range of training opportunities, facilities and networks. ​​​​

    The candidate:

    Eligibility

    Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in environmental science, geography, ecology, statistics or computing.

    Enquiries

    Interested applicants are strongly advised to get in touch to learn more about the PhD project. Please contact Dr Alona Armstrong (environment), a.armstrong@lancaster.ac.uk; Dr Bran Knowles (social science), b.h.knowles1@lancaster.ac.uk; or Professor Gordon Blair (computing), g.blair@lancaster.ac.uk for more information.

    Studentship funding: Full studentships (UK tuition fees and stipend (£15,609 2021/22 [tax free])) for UK students for 3.5 years. Unfortunately, funding is not available to cover fees for non-UK students.

    Dates

    Deadline for applications: Monday 14th June

    Provisional Interview Date: to be confirmed

    Start Date: October 2021

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD Reference Form.
    2. Complete the Application Form, renaming the document with your 'Name and Application Form' e.g., Joe Bloggs Application Form.
    3. Submit the completed Application Form and a CV to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    4. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted.
    5. Rename the referee form with your ‘Name and Reference’, e.g., Joe Bloggs Reference. Send the renamed reference form to two referees and request them to forward the referee document to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    6. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted. It is important that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.
    7. You will receive a generic acknowledgement in receipt of successfully sending the application documents.
    8. Please note that only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered.
    9. Please note that, if English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered a funded PhD and is not required as part of this application process.
    10. Please note that, if you do not hear from us within four weeks of the closing date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. If you would like feedback on your application, please contact the supervisors of the project.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

  • Microbes for crop stress relief to boost yields

    Supervisors: Professor Ian Dodd, Lancaster Environment Centre

    https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/about-us/people/ian-dodd

    Dr Steve Adams, Croda

    https://www.croda.com/en-gb/products-and-markets/agrochemicals

    Overview

    The rationale: Mitigating the effects of abiotic stress is critical for future food security. Plants have sophisticated signalling systems (often hormone-based) to detect stress and orchestrate adaptive responses. Soil-borne microbes (“plant growth promoting rhizobacteria”) can augment or attenuate this signalling, representing an important biological resource to help develop commercial products for farmers.

    The focus: This PhD project will investigate plant growth promoting traits within a commercial library of soil microbes, test how selected inocula overcome plant stress responses, and develop prototype commercial products

    What’s in it for the candidate: You will collaborate with an industrial partner, and conduct novel experiments to determine the mechanisms by which microbes can contribute to climate-resilient agriculture. Your supervisors will provide bespoke support as you develop and publish novel research. You will be part of a larger cohort of students working on a diverse range of projects within the Croda Collaborative Training Partnership (https://www.croda.com/en-gb/news/2019/05/continued-investment-in-innovation-partnerships)

    The candidate:

    Eligibility

    The successful applicant will hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level, or equivalent, in a relevant subject such as Microbiology or Plant Sciences. Research experience, especially lab-based, is highly desirable and candidates with a Master’s degree are particularly encouraged to apply. A strong work ethic, willingness to learn new techniques and participation in training are essential.

    Enquiries

    Please email Professor Ian Dodd (I.Dodd@lancaster.ac.uk) or Dr Steve Adams (steven.adams@croda.com ) to discuss the PhD further.

    Studentship funding:

    Full studentship (UK tuition fee & BBSRC stipend which will be £15,609 in 2021/22 - tax free), together with the CTP industrial bonus of £2,500 per annum, for a period of 4 years.

    Dates

    Deadline for applications: 20 August 2021

    Provisional Interview Date: TBC

    Start Date: 4 October 2021

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Formand LEC Funded PhD Reference Form‌.
    2. Complete the Application Form, renaming the document with your 'Name and Application Form' e.g., Joe Bloggs Application Form.
    3. Submit the completed Application Form and a CV to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    4. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted.
    5. Rename the referee form with your ‘Name and Reference’, e.g., Joe Bloggs Reference. Send the renamed reference form to two referees and request them to forward the referee document to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    6. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted. It is important that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.
    7. You will receive a generic acknowledgement in receipt of successfully sending the application documents.
    8. Please note that only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered.
    9. Please note that, if English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered a funded PhD and is not required as part of this application process.
    10. Please note that, if you do not hear from us within four weeks of the closing date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. If you would like feedback on your application, please contact the supervisors of the project.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

  • Is atmospheric nitrogen pollution harming butterflies? – Funded MSc by Research

    Supervisor: Professor Carly Stevens (c.stevens@lancaster.ac.uk)

    Overview

    Atmospheric nitrogen pollution is a major threat to biodiversity in the UK. Over the last two decades research has shown that nitrogen deposition is altering our natural ecosystems by changing species composition and reducing species richness in a wide range of habitats. However, despite this we have little understanding of how nitrogen pollution is impacting invertebrates. There are a number of mechanisms by which this could be happening such as changing the availability of nectar and larval food plants or the microclimate within the vegetation. The project will use existing records on invertebrate (especially butterfly) species distributions for the UK together with national datasets on environmental data including N deposition and ammonia concentration. Statistical models will be used to identify relationships between nitrogen deposition and species occurrence, using methods that have previously been applied to assess the effects of N on plants.

    This exciting project will be supervised by academics at Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and will be in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, providing you with a wide range of experience and contacts during your degree. You will write your research up in the form of a thesis to submit for an MSc by Research degree and aim to produce an academic paper.

    Eligibility

    This project is a funded MSc by research. Funding covers fees at Lancaster University together with a training grant that covers all of you research costs. You will be expected to meet your own living costs during the degree. This project is open to UK candidates who hold a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Ecology, Environmental Science, Statistics or Natural Sciences.

    Dates

    Deadline for applications: 31 July 2021

    Provisional Interview Date: to be confirmed

    Start Date: October 2021

    Application process

    1. Download the LEC Funded PhD Application Form and LEC Funded PhD Reference Form‌.
    2. Complete the Application Form, renaming the document with your 'Name and Application Form' e.g., Joe Bloggs Application Form.
    3. Submit the completed Application Form and a CV to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    4. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted.
    5. Rename the referee form with your ‘Name and Reference’, e.g., Joe Bloggs Reference. Send the renamed reference form to two referees and request them to forward the referee document to lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk
    6. Please note only Word or pdf files are accepted. It is important that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.
    7. You will receive a generic acknowledgement in receipt of successfully sending the application documents.
    8. Please note that only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered.
    9. Please note that, if English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered a funded PhD and is not required as part of this application process.
    10. Please note that, if you do not hear from us within four weeks of the closing date then you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. If you would like feedback on your application, please contact the supervisors of the project.

    Submit all applications and references to this email address: lec.pgr.applications@lancaster.ac.uk

How the application process works

  1. Select the project you wish to apply for. You can make informal enquiries to the project supervisors if you wish. Please ensure that you check the application deadline dates and eligibility criteria.
  2. Complete your application by following the links to the application form. At this stage, you are able to apply for more than one advertised project if you wish.
  3. After the closing date, the Department will consider all applications. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview. Interviews can be arranged by Skype or telephone. The timescale for this will vary but is in the region of 4 weeks.
  4. If you are successful at interview for the studentship, you will be invited to formally apply via the admissions portal online. This ensures that you receive a formal offer of admission. Please submit one application only, and state the studentship that you have applied for in the source of funding section.
  5. Once a formal offer has been made, you will need to check the conditions in your offer letter and supply any outstanding documents by the required deadlines. If your offer is unconditional then this will not apply to you.

Research Groups

Facilities

Laboratories

You will find yourself taking advantage of several laboratory facilities at Lancaster Environment Centre. There are our £4.4 million Teaching Labs, for example, as well as specialist facilities for Environmental Chemistry, Noble Gas, and Plant and Soil Ecology.

Research Facilities

There are no fewer than 15 purpose-built glasshouse modules, 16 controlled environment plant growth rooms, 4 solar domes based at the Hazelrigg Weather Station and a suite of ultraviolet radiation research facilities that can truly claim to be world-class.

Field Sites

You could find yourself working at a range of catchment science sites across England and Wales, including the local River Eden Valley, or they can travel much further afield to the tropical forests of the Amazon and Borneo.

Cutting-Edge Technologies

You can be trained to use a range of equipment, such as our Stable Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer Facility, X-ray CT Scanner, Magnetometer or the LI-COR Portable Photosynthesis System, which has the capacity to measure plant gas exchange with exceptional speed and precision.

Rich Data Resources

Dedicated support staff with expertise in GIS, statistics, modelling, information technology and programming are available to provide specialist training in all aspects of data acquisition, processing and analysis.