ink cloud 1900x800

The impacts of microplastic pollution on UK intertidal food webs


Funded PhD


3 years

Application deadline:

Wednesday 23 January 2019

About this project

As most microplastics enter the sea near the coast they are abundant in intertidal sediments, but there has been limited research on the spatial patterns of accumulation or the impacts on marine food webs.

This studentship will investigate microplastic bioavailability to higher predators in intertidal food webs, and assess which are at greatest risk from ingestion. Intertidal sediment, water samples and macroinvertebrates will be collected from the Humber estuary and used to determine microplastic concentrations.

We will assess which prey species accumulate microplastics, and why (e.g. due to their particular biological traits). Using this information the bioavailability of microplastics to higher predators will be estimated and the taxa at greatest risk from ingestion will be identified. This information will help to inform future management targets for the monitoring and conservation of ecologically and/or commercially important fish and birds.

This project will provide training in: cutting edge techniques for the extraction, identification and quantification of microplastics (using FTIR); field and laboratory techniques for sampling benthic macrofauna and the physicochemical properties of the environment; the taxonomic identification of marine invertebrates; experimental design and statistical techniques. This training is in addition to university research skills training.


The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

Find out more

The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help. 

Find out more

The Graduate School provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicate facilities, the school is here to help you achieve your potential. 

Find out more

Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain the slavery.

Find out more


Full-time UK/EU and International PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,777 in 2018/19) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level research qualification in a relevant discipline. A 2:1 may be considered, if combined with relevant experience.

It is anticipated that the successful applicant will have a 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification. Additionally, experience of working in the field and knowledge of marine ecosystems would be beneficial.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 15 March 2019 at the latest.