University of Exeter funding: Dormouse conservation

Wildlife conservation: Dormouse conservation in upland forests - Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Biosciences Ref: 3803

About the award


Lead Supervisor: 

Professor Robbie McDonald, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter

Additional supervisors:

Dr Jon Bennie , College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter

Professor Mike Bruford, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

About the award

The studentship is available to start in early 2020, or soon thereafter. Funding is confirmed for this project and comes from Innogy Renewables UK Ltd and the University of Exeter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend (in 2019/20 this is £15,009) for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study, plus research expenses. Students who would pay international tuition fees are eligible, but note that the award will only provide payment for part of the tuition fee and no stipend.

Location: University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall, with fieldwork away from campus, and laboratory work in Cardiff.

About the project

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship on hazel dormouse conservation. The project will focus on dormouse ecology in fragmented, upland and marginal landscapes at the edges of their range. The student will investigate the connectivity, dynamics and resilience of dormouse populations in such landscapes and how best to manage them in the face of climate change, to ensure their conservation at local, regional and national levels.

Fieldwork will comprise investigations of dormouse population biology and habitat use, including at Clocaenog Forest in northeast Wales. Laboratory studies may include analyses of foraging using stable isotopes, population genetics and modelling of dormouse populations. The student will also work with local partners at Chester Zoo (, who have maintained dormouse surveillance in the region, and with ecologists and site managers at Innogy Renewables (

The student will join Professor McDonald’s research group ( at Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute. We work on native and introduced, wild and domestic species and aim to achieve goals for controlling and eradicating disease in people and animals, for conserving biodiversity and for improving livelihoods. Co-supervisors are Dr Jon Bennie, who works on climate change and habitat fragmentation as drivers of change in populations and individuals, and Professor Mike Bruford, who is a conservation geneticist, and whose interests include demographic and evolutionary processes affecting populations, species and ecosystems of conservation concern. Dormouse

Photo: Zoë Helene Kindermann - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Entry requirements

You should 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 a broadly relevant discipline. A Masters degree is not essential but is desirable. Experience of working successfully in a research or conservation environment and in partnership with stakeholders is highly desirable. Experience of dormouse survey work and possession of, or progress towards, a relevant wildlife licence are highly desirable, though not essential. For essential fieldwork, you will need to be able to get to locations that are not 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. 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 6 December 2019. Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Penryn Campus in the week commencing 16 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 Professor Robbie McDonald


Application deadline:6th December 2019
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions