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Modelling microplastic dispersal, settling and distribution in estuarine environments


Funded PhD


3 years

Application deadline:

Wednesday 23 January 2019

About this project

Estuaries are ubiquitous features along the coastline where fluvial and marine environments meet and interact at a range of temporal and spatial scales. The interaction between river inputs (discharge and sediment load) and marine processes (tides, waves, sediment transport) create dynamic sedimentary basins which can act as temporary stores and sinks of sediment.

Plastic particles may be seen as a new, anthropogenic sediment. Different types of plastics are transported at different rates. Low-density plastics are concentrated near the water surface whilst high-density plastics may be transported more slowly near the river-bed.

With vertically increasing flow velocity, low-density plastics may be transported most quickly but may be more easily trapped on floodplains as floods attenuate. Little is known about the fate of fluvially transported microplastic in estuarine environments.

This studentship will focus on modelling the transport and settling rates of microplastics in the Humber Estuary, combining high resolution flow monitoring and sampling with state of the art numerical models to understand where and when microplastics are deposited in estuarine environments under differing fluvial and marine controls.


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

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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.