University of Exeter funding: Fate and Risk of Legacy Wastes in t

Composition, Fate and Risk of Legacy Wastes in the Coastal Zone, Mining PhD (Funded) Ref: 3859

About the award


Main supervisor
Professor Karen Hudson-Edwards, Environment & Sustainability Institute and Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

Dr Rich Crane,  Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter
Dr Adam Jarvis, School of Engineering, Newcastle University.
Dr Will Mayes, Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Hull.


Environment & Sustainability Institute and Camborne School of Mines, Penryn, Cornwall.

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU/International 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 would be based in the Environment & Sustainability Institute and the Camborne School of Mines in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

Project Description:
Through direct disposal of wastes within the coastal zone, and via downstream transport of more distal upstream material, the UK has considerable environmental pollution legacies in coastal water bodies from historical waste deposits. These wastes pose risks to the environment, human health and can have significant current and future economic implications. This PhD project is directly aligned with a recently commenced NERC-funded Large Grant: Legacy Waste in the Coastal Zone: Environmental Risks and Management Futures’ (2020-2024) which  will undertake a coordinated approach to comprehensively investigate the spatial extent, characteristics, and physical and biogeochemical behaviour of municipal and industrial legacy wastes across the UK.

The aim of the PhD project is to determine in detail the composition, fate and risk of legacy wastes (metals, metalloids, organics, nutrients, asbestos, plastics) in two representative case study legacy waste sites identified in this NERC project. The main tasks will include: (1) mapping and sampling the legacy waste sites; (2) conducting geochemical, mineralogical, spectroscopic and physical characterisation of the waste samples; (3) carrying out experiments to determine the short- and long-term fate of selected pollutants; (4) determining the ecological risks of the pollutants defined in (1) to (3). The student will have the opportunity to work with the research team (13 investigators from 7 UK universities, 3 post-doctoral research fellows and 7 project partners), visit other legacy waste sites in the UK and develop policy, management and remediation system recommendations.

This project will benefit from the world-class facilities both at the Camborne School of Mines
and the Environment & Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter. The former is a world-leading Mining and Geoscience Department with a history dating back more than 125 years, whilst the latter is a £30 m interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into solutions to problems of environmental change. Analytical techniques of specific benefit will include: ICP-MS, ICP-OES, IC, XRD, SEM-EDS, QEMSCAN, EPMA, µ-CT, XRF and pXRF. Primary supervision will be provided at the University of Exeter by Professor Karen Hudson-Edward and Dr Rich Crane, and the student will also benefit from additional supervision (and access to analytical facilities) at the Universities of Newcastle and Hull with Dr Adam Jarvis and Dr Will Mayes.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2020.

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 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.  Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”. 

• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Research proposal
• 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. References should be received by the studentship closing date.
• 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 18 March 2020.  Interviews will be held in the last week of April 2020.

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:18th March 2020
Value:£15,009 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150