Ecological and Social Dimensions of Raptor Translocations– PhD Biological Sciences (Fully funded) Ref: 3416

About the award


Professor Dave Hodgson, University of Exeter
Professor Robbie McDonald, University of Exeter

Centre for Ecology and Conservation, Penryn Campus, Cornwall

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with Natural England, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in March 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

Project Description;
Raptor introductions, reintroductions or translocations are rare, and the scientific literature associated with them is usually retrospective, considering in a historical context why they have succeeded or failed. The proposed translocation of hen harriers, Circus cyaneus, to southern England, presents an extraordinary opportunity to study a raptor translocation in its early stages and as it unfolds. The ecological drivers of translocation outcomes are manifold: including population viability; Allee effects; demographic stochasticity; environmental fluctuations; diet and other dimensions of ecological niche; prey population dynamics; breeding success; behavioural interactions; dispersal and natal philopatry. The social drivers are similarly manifold: deliberative practices, means of engagement and communications; existing disputes, wider conflicts and policy differences; complex relationships among individuals and stakeholder groups. Ecological and social processes are likely to interact, both in anticipation of and during the translocation. Incorporating social-ecological approaches will bring new insights into conservation practice in contested arenas.

This PhD will take a broad view of raptor translocations, using the case study of hen harriers in England, to deepen our understanding of the ecological and social drivers of the outcomes of these important conservation actions.
This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU 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 4 years of full-time study to commence in March 2019.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First Class UK Honours degree, and/or a Distinction in a Masters degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science. The successful student will need to have the ability to travel to remote locations that may not be easily accessible by public transport.
If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5  in 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. 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 20 January 2018.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Penryn Campus the week commencing 28 January 2019.


Application deadline:20th January 2019
Number of awards:1
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Postgraduate Research Office