University of Exeter funding: Mitigating impacts of sport and lei

Mitigating impacts of sport and leisure in the marine environment - Biological Sciences – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3787

About the award


Professor Steve Simpson, Professor of Marine Biology & Global Change, University of Exeter

Professor Tamara Galloway OBE, Professor of Ecotoxicology, University of Exeter

Biosciences, Streatham Campus, Exeter

Theresa and Mike Laflin’s generous donation is part of the University of Exeter’s ‘Making the Exceptional Happen’ Campaign, which aims to raise £60 million by the end of 2020. Funds raised support vital research in areas such as the environment and medicine, as well as supporting students to achieve their potential at Exeter. Currently the total stands at £56.3 million, 94% of the target.

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for the T&M Laflin Global Sports PhD Studentship to commence on 6 January 2020 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 £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student will be based in Biosciences in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:
Recent studies demonstrate that light, litter and noise can all be major stressors to marine life, but as yet we have a poor understanding of their combined and comparative effects on the environment.
This PhD will focus on major sporting events in or on the water, as well as leisure boating, tourism and beach activities. Using both lab and field studies, this project will explore the likely impacts of these activities on the environment to develop best practice guidance for aquatic sporting events and beyond.

The student will work under the guidance of Prof. Steve Simpson, Professor of Marine Biology & Global Change, who has shown how man-made noise is having a detrimental effect on the marine world, and whose work also focuses on impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. The project will also be supervised by Prof. Tamara Galloway OBE, Professor of Ecotoxicology, who conducts research into the effects of pollutants, particularly micro-plastics and chemical toxins in water, on humans and non-human animals.

The project will consider all forms of pollution, both from everyday leisure activities and stand-alone major events. Investigating specific events will provide case studies where we can measure environmental quality before and after the event, including follow-up after a period of time to assess recovery. These major events can be considered as ‘acute stressors’. We will also assess ongoing sporting activities, akin to ‘chronic stressors’, allowing comparisons and contrasts between different types of impact.

Mike Laflin will be an advisor to the project, utilising his extensive sporting experience and access to valuable data and networks. The ultimate aim of the project is to develop solutions that are commercially viable as well as positive for the environment, so that through future major events we can showcase new solutions and best practice to make positive transformative change to our interactions with the marine environment.

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 £15,009 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.

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 6.5 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)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• 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 01 December 2019.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus the week commencing 09 December 2019.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor, Prof. Steve Simpson (


Application deadline:1st December 2019
Value:£15,009 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150