Rewilding the Sea: Perceptions, Values and Challenges


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time) 5 years (part-time)

Application deadline:

Midnight 31 January 2022

About this project

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship evaluating rewilding efforts in the UK marine environment, as part of the University of Hull’s REWILD Research cluster (see “About the research cluster” below for more details of the cluster).

“Rewilding” is a current buzzword in conservation, with intersections over working with natural processes in response to climate driven pressures, yet there is no firm definition of which initiatives constitute marine rewilding, the number of initiatives, nor the effectiveness of rewilding projects. In terms of re-establishing and reintroducing lost and vanishing species, the marine realm has trailed behind terrestrial counterparts, habitat restoration efforts are also more limited in scope. Rewilding the common space of the sea is a complex problem; it is crucial to appraise the governance, policy and implementation challenges prior to widespread uptake of the concept.

This PhD will evaluate the current state of nascent rewilding across UK inshore waters and the policy landscape into which marine rewilding fits. Using social science methods that facilitate dialogue, this PhD would expand on current research with coastal communities to understand the drivers for the “rewilding the sea” concept, the potential for conflict as budding initiatives progress and the feasibility of widespread implementation.

In addition, you will join a collaborative, multidisciplinary and nurturing environment to realise your potential, and will be provided with excellent opportunities for external networking. We will hold regular monthly meetings with the entire cluster, with opportunities to present and discuss research, invite internal and external speakers and collaborators and foster networking.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Charlotte Hopkins.

About the REWILD research cluster


REWILD: understanding ecological, environmental and societal costs and benefits of rewilding.

We are experiencing a global climate and biodiversity crisis. Closer to home, more than half of UK species are in decline and a further 15% threatened with extinction. Rewilding - the large-scale restoration of ecosystems by allowing reinstatement of natural processes and missing species - is seen as one potential solution for the protection and recovery of ecosystems. The rewilding of terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats can make a critical contribution to carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, water quality, biodiversity, and human wellbeing. However rewilding can also be highly controversial, with conflicts arising because of competing interests of different stakeholder groups. The REWILD research cluster at the University of Hull is a multidisciplinary team of researchers across biology, environmental science, psychology and systems thinking, working with diverse stakeholders to collectively understand the ecological, environmental and societal costs and benefits of rewilding. Our 6 PhD studentships focus on understanding i) the impacts of rewilding projects on biodiversity, sedimentation rates and carbon sequestration dynamics, ii) the community benefits of blue spaces, and the perceptions, values and challenges of rewilding the sea, and iii) how animal “personalities” drive public perceptions of species reintroductions.

Click here to watch a recording of our recent webinar about this funded postgraduate research opportunity.  You'll hear from programme leaders, supervisors, and students and listen to queries from other applicants in the Q&A.


Other PhDs in this cluster


Uncovering the Biodiversity Impacts of Rewilding on Entire Ecological Communities at a Landscape Scape Using Environmental DNA

Greening Blue Spaces in Hull

Understanding Environmental Adaptability in Wild Mammalian Carnivores: a Multidisciplinary Perspective

Optimising Blue Carbon Storage in Estuaries Using Rewilding and Eco-engineering Approaches

Effective Biodiversity Monitoring of River Rewilding Projects Using eDNA Modelling

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

Watch the video


The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant/stipend for three years (full time) or five years (part-time), which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 21/22 is £4,500 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £15,609. This rises each year in line with the UKRI’s recommended stipend allowance.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship for full time and within five years and six months if studying part-time.

If you need to move into a fourth year (full time) or sixth year (part-time) to complete your thesis, please note that you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period.

Entry requirements

We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated candidate, interested in the interface between Marine Ecology and Human Geography, and is keen to develop their expertise in incorporating human perspectives into conservation and environmental management. You must hold a BSc (2.1 or higher) in Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology, Environmental Sciences or Geography. Other relevant degrees will be considered. A Master degree in a related subject, relevant training in social science research methods will be advantageous. The PhD will contain data collection from human participants. In addition, ample opportunities will exist to engage with the cluster PhD students and the wider community of biologists and ecologists in the Department of Biological and Marine Sciences and the other involved departments in the cluster at the University of Hull, as well as with the various project partners, collaborators and stakeholders.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time and part-time study.

Research training

As a PhD student here at the University of Hull you will undertake the Postgraduate Training Scheme alongside your main degree, to help you develop the research skills and knowledge you’ll need in your future career. You will gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Research Training in addition to your PhD.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with a home fee waiver only.

How to apply

You will need to supply a personal statement when applying for this scholarship position. Find out more about writing a personal statement. Please also ensure you include the following information:

  1. What motivates you to pursue PhD study
  2. Why you are interested in this project
  3. How your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need
  4. The wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.

Apply now

Apply for this scholarship: Full time | Part-time 

Closing date: Midnight on Monday 31 January 2022.