Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes

Formula vs function: Understanding how different formulations of plant protection products impact toxicity

Department of Environment and Geography

York United Kingdom Agricultural Sciences Applied Chemistry Ecotoxicology Environmental Chemistry Pollution Soil Science

About the Project

ECORISC Partner organisations:

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)/Chemical Regulation Division (CRD)


Project Overview: Plant protection products (PPP) containing the same active substance can take many different forms, for example emulsifiable concentrate, wettable powder, suspension concentrate. Regulatory data on every formulation is required before a PPP can be authorised. This project aims to determine when, or even if, so many studies are required, or whether the toxicity of the PPP can be predicted on the basis of the toxicity of the active substance and the formulation type. The supervisory team includes ecotoxicology and fate and behaviour experts (Hodson, Sallach, Sweetman), the agrochemicals industry (Syngenta ) and UK regulators (HSE).

Novelty of the Project: The project is novel in that it is aiming to replace conventional ecotoxicity testing with either a modelled approach to toxicity and/or rules of thumb indicating when testing is/isn’t required.

Expertise that you would develop: You will develop expertise in performing industry standard aquatic and soil invertebrate and plant ecotoxicology tests, soil and water analysis for organic compounds, fate and behaviour modelling and the risk assessment process within the regulatory environment.


This project is one of 12 projects being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. More information on the CDT can be found at: Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive a unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferrable skills.

Over the first two years of their PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) core skills required for an environmental specialist. Successful completion of this training will result in the award of phase 1 of the Certified Environmental Risk Assessor qualification from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events, ECORISC annual conferences and tailored specialist skills training conducted as group and individual exercises.

ECORISC students will also be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our business, policy and regulation, third sector and research organisation partners.

An inclusive CDT programme

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at .

Eligibility and Application process

The studentship is open to highly motivated UK applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available at:

Applications should be submitted before 1700 (British Summer Time) on 16th May. Your will be notified of the outcome of the process by 25th May.

Successful applicants, will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

If you have any questions on the ECORISC CDT or the application process, please contact us at .

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