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We have 16 Marine Biology PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships for Self-funded Students



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Marine Biology PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships for Self-funded Students

We have 16 Marine Biology PhD Projects, Programmes & Scholarships for Self-funded Students

Studying a PhD in Marine Biology would give you the chance to study ocean life through an extended research project. You could be investigating the effects pollution is having on sea life, attempting to improve how we promote ocean sustainability or developing better methods for tracking organisms.

What’s it like to do a PhD in Marine Biology?

As a Marine Biology PhD student, you’ll develop skills in a range of areas, from field work to in the laboratory. Depending on your exact project, you’ll spend more or less time in the field, but almost every project includes the opportunity to gain at least some field work experience.

Some typical research topics in Marine Biology include:

  • Studying microplastics in the ocean
  • Developing methods of promoting ocean sustainability
  • Improving current methods of tracking sea life
  • Studying an organism from the ocean in detail
  • Investigating the effects of pollution on sea life
  • Studying how organisms adapt to environmental change

Almost all Marine Biology PhD programmes are advertised projects with attached funding. The additional cost of fieldwork or bench fees makes it challenging to self-fund either an advertised project or one you have proposed. This cost, as well as the difficulty finding an institution and supervisor with the expertise and equipment suitable for your research, makes proposing your own research uncommon in Marine Biology.

A general field day will consist of either sampling, measuring, or observing organisms or their environment. This may include tagging individuals from a certain species or counting their population. Other days will involve analysing previously collected data, either in the laboratory or using techniques from data science and statistics.

Upon completion of your final year, you’ll write a thesis of roughly 60,000 words that will contribute to the knowledge of your field. During your viva exam you’ll then defend your work and if successful, be awarded your PhD.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for most Marine Biology PhD programmes involve a Masters in a subject directly related to Biology, at Merit or Distinction level. If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need to show that you have the right level of language proficiency.

PhD in Marine Biology funding options

The research council responsible for funding Marine Biology PhDs in the UK is the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). They provide fully-funded studentships including a stipend for living costs, a consumables budget for bench fees and a tuition fee waiver. Students don’t apply directly to the BBSRC, you apply for advertised projects with this funding attached.

It’s uncommon for Marine Biology PhD students to be ‘self-funded’ due to the additional bench fees. However, if you were planning to fund yourself it might be achievable (depending on your project) through the UK government’s PhD loan and part-time work.

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Convex Seascape Survey – Effects of seabed disturbances and protection on uptake and storage of seascape carbon

Location. Distance learning in department of Ecology & Conservation, Penryn Campus, Cornwall. Students will be based in country of fieldwork (South Africa) enrolled as University of Exeter students, distance learning with periods of time spent on campus. Read more
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Understanding marine ecosystems in the face of future variability and extreme events

Marine ecosystems consist of complex dynamic interactions among species and the environment, the understanding of which has significant ecological implications for predicting nature’s response to changes in climate and biodiversity. Read more

Revealing the genomic basis of reproductive mode evolution and speciation in Littorina snails

Overview. We are seeking an enthusiastic and motivated PhD student (starting September 2024) to study the links between reproductive mode evolution and speciation in intertidal snails from the genus Littorina. Read more

Quantifying and managing multi-taxon range shifts in marine reef ecosystems

This PhD project is a marine ecology project that will employ cutting-edge modelling and unique marine datasets to model range shifts of marine species under climate change and develop novel conservation mechanisms to manage them. Read more

Adaptation to environmental change in animals: ecology, evolution and genomics.

How are animals able to live in different environments, with different temperatures, energetic demands, diet, predators, parasites or pH? Thanks to advances in gene sequencing technology, we are in a remarkable period of discovery about the genomic basis of adaptation and how this depends on the intricacies of ecology and environment. Read more

Dissecting primary production in dark environments

Dissecting primary production in dark environments. Summary. We are advertising a competitive funded PhD project in the Greening Lab at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Read more

Defining how inter-bacterial symbioses regulate aquatic ecosystem health (PhD Project)

Planktonic bacteria play crucial roles in regulating the productivity, health and function of aquatic ecosystems. Recent evidence suggests that the growth and ecological impacts of aquatic bacteria is potentially strongly regulated by previously over-looked inter-bacterial interactions. Read more

Microbial adaptations for life within the plastisphere

The project aims to better understand the plastisphere ecosystem and the adaptations that have been evolved in marine organisms to colonize, live and consume plastic surfaces. Read more

Our Mission: to Educate, Nurture and Discover for the benefit of Human Health

Founded in 1784 as the professional body for surgical training in Ireland, RCSI has evolved in the years since to become one of the world's leading health sciences universities. Read more

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