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Marine Biology PhD Research Projects

We have 13 Marine Biology PhD Research Projects

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We have 13 Marine Biology PhD Research Projects

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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Nature-inspired surfaces for tackling greenhouse gas emissions

Global shipping accounts for 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, and is predicted to rise to 17% by 2050. A PhD studentship is available to develop nature-inspired surfaces to prevent fouling in marine environments, leading to the improvement of energy efficiency of submerged structures. Read more

Anaerobic Biochemistry and Microbiology - PhD Student

The Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology is a research institute of the Max Planck Society. It was founded in 1992 in the State of Bremen and employs around 200 staff members. Read more

Leveraging polysaccharide degrading abilities of wastewater treatment microbiomes to develop clean future polymers

The overarching goal of this project is to characterise the natural polysaccharide-degrading ability of wastewater treatment plant microbiomes to tailor production of functionalised 'clean future polymers' that are likely to be degraded prior to discharge of wastewater back into the environment. Read more

Geological Fate and Impact of Isosaccharinic acid (Geo-FISA)

About the Project. The nuclear fuel cycle has generated higher-level radioactive wastes that will be disposed of in a deep geological facility (GDF) that will provide multiple barriers to the migration of radionuclides to the surface over prolonged timescales (tens of thousands of years). Read more

Seaweed farming in Europe: appraisal and quantification of ecosystem services

The big picture. If a biobased industry using seaweed cultivation is to be developed and significantly upscaled, then there is a need to ensure that industry meets multiple criteria for environmental sustainability. Read more

Population genomic analysis of the Aotearoa New Zealand Yellowtail kingfish – haku for community-led aquaculture

Project Description. We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student for a project that aims to sequence the kingfish (Seriola lalandi) genome, conduct a population genomic study, and help prepare this species for a community-led Māori aquaculture initiative in Aotearoa New Zealand. Read more

Investigating the cell biology of Neoparamoeba perurans, a causative agent of Amoebic Gill Disease, and its endosymbiont kinetoplastid, Perkinsela.

Amoebic gill disease (AGD), caused by the opportunistic amoebozoan parasite Neoparamoeba perurans, is a major disease in salmonid aquaculture [1-3] and there is an urgent need to mitigate the impact parasitic infections have on both fish welfare and sustainable growth in the sector. Read more

Discovery of novel pharmaceuticals from marine and desert microorganisms

Microorganisms from extreme environments such as the deep seas, cold seas and hyper arid deserts have been shown to produce a range of complex natural products with high biological activity. 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
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