What’s it like to do a PhD in Ecology?
Studying a PhD in Ecology, you’ll gain a variety of skills since Ecology draws on techniques from many subjects including Geology, Microbiology and Bioinformatics.
Some typical research topics in Ecology include:
- Studying the effect of an environmental factor e.g. urbanisation is affecting a species
- Developing models to estimate the impact of environmental changes to organisms
- Investigating how the interaction between species has evolved
- Population ecology, studying the dynamics of a population including interactions with environment, birth, death, and immigration rates
- Developing methods of mitigating adverse effects of altering the environment on the species it contains
- Focused study on a particular ecosystem and its species (overlap with Biodiversity)
In a general workday, you’ll be conducting field work and analysing previous data or if you’re project involves Bioinformatics, you’ll be writing programmes and using methods from statistics and data science to analyse large datasets. Discussing your results, progress and problems with your supervisor and colleagues.
Your PhD will end with the submission of a thesis (approximately 60,000 words in length) that significantly contributes to the knowledge of your field, and a viva exam, in which you’ll defend your research.
Ecology PhD programmes are generally advertised projects with full funding attached, with the project proposal written by the supervisor. However, for some advertised projects you must find your own source of funding, which can be difficult due to additional bench fees, though these may not be as high as more laboratory-based subjects, it is still an extra cost to cover. This difficulty also makes proposing your own project in Ecology uncommon.