The University of Exeter’s Department of Ecology and Conservation is inviting applications for a PhD studentship, fully-funded for 3.5 years.

See also:

PhD Studentship: Ecosystem Assessment of Tristan's Fisheries

Ecosystem assessment of the Tristan da Cunha Islands fisheries, Ecology and Conservation PhD (Funded) Ref: 5068

University of ExeterSupervisors

Lead Supervisor

Dr Kristian Metcalfe, University of Exeter

Academic supervisors

Dr Sam Weber, University of Exeter
Dr Nicola Weber, University of Exeter
Dr James Bell, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science
Dr Vera Fonseca, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science

The University of Exeter's Department of Ecology and Conservation is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded by the Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy and The Fishmongers' Company's Fisheries Charitable Trust to commence on 25 September 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home or International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £19,237 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.

Project Description:

Tristan da Cunha is a remote group of islands in the South Atlantic, situated approximately 2,700km from South Africa and 3,700km from South America, and is part of the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Tristan da Cunha's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 754,000km2 and includes 687,000km2 marine protection zone (MPZ) where all fishing is prohibited. However, local sustainable fishing is permitted within inshore fishing zones (around the islands' coastal waters) and in several seamount fishing zones, with the Tristan rock lobster (Jasus tristani) fishery playing an important role in the Territory's economy.

This PhD project will support the delivery of key actions outlined in the Tristan da Cunha Marine Management Plan 2021 - 2026 aimed at improving capacity to sustainably manage the island's fisheries resources. This will involve extended periods (up to 3 months per annum*) on Tristan da Cunha working in partnership with the Fisheries Department to: (1) develop a long-term monitoring framework to establish baselines on the status of key fisheries species; and (2) evaluate the spatial distribution, and economic/ecological impact of marine invasive species, including on the Tristan rock lobster. The student will work in conjunction with supervisors and project partners to shape the research questions and survey protocols to address these objectives, using tools such as baited remote underwater video systems, eDNA, fisheries data analysis, ecological studies and GIS.

*Please note that fieldwork will require travel from UK to Cape Town, South Africa, where onward travel to the islands is by ship - a journey that can take up to 6 days. This is the only form of regular transport to and from islands and so fieldwork is planned around both this schedule and the availability of berths onboard (the ships can only carry up to 12 passengers). Therefore to maximise data collection fieldwork will involve 3 months per annum on the islands.

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, and/or have a relevant Masters or equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of ecology, or marine and environmental science. Experience of working in remote locations, undertaking boat based fieldwork/research (e.g., observer fisheries catch surveys) and/or processing and analysing eDNA samples would be highly valued.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the required level as per our guidance at

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.

  • CV
  • Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying).
  • Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
  • 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 12th April 2024. Interviews will be held virtually / on the University of Exeter Penryn Campus in the week commencing 29th April 2024

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers). Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline: 12th April 2024
Value: For eligible students the studentship will cover Home or International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £19,237 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Duration of award: per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Team