Met-Ocean data for autonomous marine systems, Renewable Energy – MPhil/PhD (Funded) Ref: 3177

About the award


Dr Ian Ashton, University of Exeter
Prof Lars Johanning, University of Exeter

Autonomous vehicles offshore are unmanned vessels that can carry sensor packages, take measurements and communicate results. They represent an emerging technology that is revolutionising oceanographic measurements. Across applications as diverse as taking bathymetric surveys for offshore engineering, monitoring water quality for aquaculture, ground-truthing satellite measurements and acoustic monitoring for whale research, self-propelled autonomous vessels are making long-duration missions more affordable. Of particular interest is the ability to control the location of measurements in real time, so that they can be targeted to areas of interest, or respond to mobile events, such as pollution; increasing the detail and relevance of measured data.

The speed and direction in which vehicles can move is dependent on a combination of their naval architecture and the met-ocean conditions they encounter. Predicting their navigational capabilities is an essential component of mission planning. It will rely on the quality of met-ocean data available for the planned routes, and include the ability for autonomous systems to monitor their own met-ocean data.

A PhD candidate is sought to develop met-ocean modelling alongside algorithms for predicting the navigation of autonomous systems. The research will explore methods to integrate measured data into wider spatial data from met-ocean models and satellite earth observation, for the management of autonomous systems offshore.
The project would suit someone who is organised and has strong computational skills, including programming and a reasonable level of maths. A background in one or more of the following would be advantageous; computational analysis, physical oceanography, satellite remote sensing, offshore engineering, naval architecture, although candidates across the marine sciences, engineering, maths or physical sciences will be considered. To an extent, the project can be tailored to suit the skills and interests of the applicant and would suit someone who has strong research skills and is confident in developing their own ideas.

The project will take advantage of facilities within the Centre for Offshore technology, including high-powered computing, test facilities, offshore measurements and research vessel. As such, the work may include fieldwork, so the confidence that you can operate on a boat with both manual and computer tasks in support of instrument deployment, servicing and recovery could be beneficial.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU and International tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU and international tuition fees, the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 
The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2018 and is subject to confirmation of funding.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 

• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English
The closing date for applications is midnight on 09/07/2018.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Penryn campus the week commencing 16 July 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:9th July 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:£14,777 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Admissions office: +44 (0) 1392722730/5150