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  Implementing Marine Spatial Planning in the High Seas

   Department of Geography and Planning

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  Dr S Jay, Ms Catherine Queen, Dr Emma Allen  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is being practiced globally to enable coastal nations to sustainably manage their surrounding seas. However, most of the world’s oceans are High Seas (‘Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction’), so lie beyond the reach of national MSP processes. They are under increasing pressure from overfishing, pollution and climate change, but also hold resources that can help society transition to a new future. MSP is the ideal framework for managing this change.

This project will investigate the potential for MSP to be extended to the High Seas. This would require international cooperation through the United Nations and regional sea organisations. The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and other researchers have begun to explore these possibilities. This project will build upon this work by carrying out an empirical investigation, firstly, of the models of spatial planning that are feasible in the High Seas, and secondly, of the legal means by which MSP could be introduced. 

Research will be desk-based, using methods such as documentary analysis, expert interview and stakeholder workshops. It will involve engagement with regional sea organisations and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

This project will produce recommendations to be brought to the attention of international organisations concerned with the seas, with the support of IDDRI. Stakeholder workshops will act as catapults for advancing these recommendations. The project will therefore accelerate the uptake of MSP in the High Seas, themselves constituting two-thirds of the world’s oceans.

Candidates should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree, and Masters Degree with Merit/Distinction or equivalent, in Planning, Environmental Management, Law or a related field.

For any enquiries please contact Dr Stephen Jay on: [Email Address Removed]

To apply for this opportunity, please visit: and click the 'Ready to apply? Apply online.'

Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13) Geography (17) Law (22) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

This competitive funded studentship supports 3.5 years of full-time studies, covering UK fees (, annual stipend of £15,843 and a research training support grant of £5000 for the duration of the studies. If you are an international student, you will need to cover the differences in fees.
Shortlisted candidates will have an interview on the 9th of March 2022 (date tbc).


Wright, Glen, Kristina M. Gjerde, David E. Johnson, Aria Finkelstein, Maria Adelaide Ferreira, Daniel C. Dunn, Mariamalia Rodriguez Chaves, and Anthony Grehan. 2021. “Marine Spatial Planning in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction.” Marine Policy 132: 103384.