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MPhil Studentship in digital technology to support artisanal fishing boats in East Africa

   School of Engineering

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  Dr S Benson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


A fully funded MPhil studentship is available in the Marine Offshore and Subsea Technology Group within the School of Engineering at Newcastle University.

The MPhil will contribute to an ongoing collaboration with several partners associated to the Flipflopi project (www.theflipflopi.com). Flipflopi is an East African movement with a mission to end single use plastic and inspire a plastic-reuse revolution through innovation hubs, education, and campaigning to influence policy change. Through plastic boat building, R&D and innovation hubs in East Africa, Flipflopi aim to create locally-grown circular economies and extend the practice of Flipflopi dhow-building to the world.

The Flipflopi team are in the process of designing, then moving to production, a new 24-metre sailing Dhow. This will be built entirely from recycled plastic beams and castings in place of the traditional wood. This will be an iconic vessel, the first of its kind in the world for this size, and is likely to gain significant international attention.

The MPhil will connect with the Flipflopi project through a specific and associated research interest of the investigating team at Newcastle University. We wish to investigate how low-cost technology can be embedded on fishing boats to aid their performance and safety. We envisage using affordable single board computers, microcontrollers or android smart phones as a sensing and communication device, linking to robust algorithms that can predict aspects of the vessel performance such as stability and seakeeping. The MPhil will research several possible configurations and use-cases for this type of technology, then develop a prototype with the intention for this to be deployed on a case study fishing boat in Kenya. We intend for the project to involve a period of fieldwork in Kenya working out of the Flipflopi boatyard. There will also be opportunity to work with and support a team of undergraduates from Newcastle on a shorter summer placement with the Flipflopi. 

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2022 for 1 year.


The John Prime Foundation


Dr Simon Benson

Eligibility Criteria

The applicant is expected to have or be on course for a 2.1 or above honours degree in a relevant engineering discipline. A background in digital technologies, fluid dynamics and/or naval architecture is an advantage but not essential.

If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5 in all sub-skills.

International candidates will be required to make up the difference between Home and International fees.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

•             Insert the programme code 7070F in the programme of study section

•             select ‘PhD Marine Technology (FT) – Marine Technology (Engineering)’ as the programme of study

•             Insert the studentship code ENG095 in the studentship/partnership reference field

•             Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code ENG095 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project

•             Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

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