Current PhD Opportunities

Applications for 2019/20 entry have now closed

The University of Exeter has just closed applications for the third round of fully-funded QUEX studentships. These prestigious studentships are generously funded with full tuition fees, stipend, a travel allowance and a research training grant. The successful students will have a supervisor from each university and will spend a significant period of time in both the UK and Australia as part of their programme.

The projects advertised in the latest recruitment round can be found below. You can search through other postgraduate research opportunities on our PGR database and get in touch to find out more. 

Exeter-based projects

Environmental Sustainability 

Forests, peat, and past fires: understanding the drivers of past fire in Amazonian forests
Exeter academic lead:
Dr Angela Gallego-Sala, Geography, University of Exeter, UK
Queensland academic lead: Dr Patrick Moss, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland

Designing natural capital landscapes for changing and uncertain futures
Exeter academic lead: Professor Brett Day, Land Environment Economics and Policy Institute, Business School, University of Exeter
Queensland academic lead:Professor Jonathan Rhodes, Environmental Management, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland

Understanding uptake of sustainable technologies by small-scale collective mining operations in West Africa
Exeter academic lead:Dr Penda Diallo, Camborne School of Mines, College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter
Queensland academic lead:Dr Kathryn Sturman, CSRM-SMI, University of Queensland

Healthy Ageing

Exploring the complex relationships between pre-existing conditions and cancer diagnosis in an ageing population
Exeter academic lead: Professor Anne Spencer, Health Economist, Health Economics Group Exeter, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter
Queensland academic lead: Professor Stephen Birch, Health Economist, Director of the Centre for Business and the Economics of Health, University of Queensland.

Using Genetics to Investigate the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease in the UK Biobank Study and Other Large Scale Population Based Cohorts
Exeter academic lead: Dr Rachel Freathy, Genetics of Complex Traits, Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter
Queensland academic lead: Professor David Evans, Statistical Genetics, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute.

Optimised Sports Footwear Design Characteristics for Maintenance of Healthy Activity in Older Adult Populations
Exeter academic lead: Dr Sharon Dixon, Associate Professor in Biomechanics, Biomechanics Research Team, Human Movement Science, Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter
Queensland academic lead: Dr Anna Hatton, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, Centre for Neurorehabilitation, Ageing and Balance Research, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland

Reproductive ageing
Exeter academic lead: Dr Anna Murray, Associate Professor, Genetics of Complex Traits, College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter
Queensland academic lead: Professor Gita Mishra, The School of Public Health, Queensland University


Queensland-based projects:

Professor Kevin Thomas

Extended anthropogenic use of antimicrobials is leading to rapidly evolving, multi-drug antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on a global scale. It has been recently shown that non-antibiotic drugs and other chemicals may play a role in the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Wastewater contains a cocktail of chemicals, including drugs, personal care products and household and industrial chemicals. Elucidating which of these has the potential to induce AMR is challenging, however possible through an effects-directed analytical approach whereby wastewater is fractionated. Following testing using a novel AMR assay, the fractions will be tested using chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry to reveal high risk, priority compounds that may enrich for AMR.

Project Details 


Professor Richard Fuller

More than five million migratory shorebirds visit Australia each year from Asian breeding grounds, where they spend the non-breeding season on wetlands throughout the continent. Studies at the University of Queensland have revealed that most species are declining quickly, and eight have now been listed as nationally threatened as a result. Yet effective monitoring of migratory shorebirds in Australia has proven extremely difficult because many sites are inaccessible in the summer months when the birds are present.

Project Details 

Dr Jan Engelstaedter

Ecosystems are constantly faced with a critical environmental hazard: infectious diseases. This is because many pathogens do not only attack a single species but several species within an ecosystem. A major source of emerging infectious diseases in humans, wildlife and agriculture are host shifts, where pathogens jump between host species. To assess ecosystem resilience to the threat of invading pathogens, an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of host range evolution and its consequences is vital.

Project Details 

Dr Katrina McGuigan

At any given age men are more likely to die than women, but women have poorer health at older ages. This is referred to as the “male-female, health-survival paradox” – women live longer but suffer more.  This paradox is not driven by selective death as women have higher survival probabilities at every age, but tend to live more of their lives in poorer health.

Project Details 

Professor Justin Cooper-White

Spinal problems affect over 80% of the population, the majority of which are aged, representing a major and growing social and an economic burden on health services world-wide, currently costing more than 200 billion USD a year. These problems are frequently associated with the degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD), a condition that is highly penetrant within our ageing population and severely limits their ability to participate and contribute to society.

Project Details 

Dr Gregore Iven Mielke

Population ageing is associated with increased economic and societal burden, due to multiple morbidities and loss of function. Physical activity (PA) is arguably the most important modifiable preventive factor associated with healthier ageing, especially if optimal patterns of PA are established in late-middle to early older age (referred to here as the 'young-old' life-stage). 

Project Details 

Dr Michalis Stylianou

Despite only ~ 20% of children and adolescents meeting the physical activity guidelines and the identification of educational settings as ideal sites for physical activity promotion, contemporary systematic reviews show that traditional school-based interventions are unsuccessful.Accordingly, novel approaches in educational settings are needed to promote physical activity in children and adolescents and promote health and wellbeing.

Project Details