QUADRAT DTP: Cultural ecosystem services of underwater landscapes and marine protected areas

   School of Geosciences

This project is no longer listed on FindAPhD.com and may not be available.

Click here to search FindAPhD.com for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Flurina Wartmann, Dr O Dunnett  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This fully funded, 42-month PhD project is part of the QUADRAT Doctoral Training Partnership.

Marine environments are facing multiple challenges due to climate change as well as the direct human impacts that come from resource extraction and physical alteration of habitats. In this context, a network of Marine Protected Areas has been set up in the UK as a place-based measure to protect species, their habitats and the ecosystem services that these provide. Although more attention has generally been paid to provisioning services (e.g. fishing) and regulating services (blue carbon storage and sequestration in marine habitats), cultural ecosystem services such as recreation are now increasingly recognised as an integral part of ecosystem services. However, intangible and immaterial cultural ecosystem services still remain underassessed in comparison to more easily quantifiable services such as fishing or recreation. In recent years, interdisciplinary research drawing on the social sciences and humanities has emerged to assess cultural values of terrestrial landscapes. However, cultural values of underwater landscapes and marine habitats still remain under researched, with few exceptions. For example, a study assessed anglers’ and divers’ recreational values of UK marine protected areas (Jobstvogt et al. 2014), but did not incorporate immaterial values. A seminal study by Urquhart and Acott (2014) provides an example of one of the few such projects in the UK, which used ethnographic methods to study sense of place in fishing communities in Cornwall.

The proposed PhD project aims to address this research gap by studying immaterial cultural values of marine environments in marine protected areas in the UK. The proposed work will use a comparative approach of two case study areas (one longer established and one recently-designated MPA) in inshore waters, where community relations with seascapes are expected to be closer than e.g. with deep sea habitats. The methodological approach will be iterative, with ethnographic methods, including participatory mapping of underwater areas in community workshops and with stakeholders (Scully-Engelmeyer et al. 2021) to explore the diverse cultural values associated with different places on, in and above the water, and how these cultural values relate to a sense of place and identity of coastal communities. The PhD will thus explore underwater cultural ecosystem services and contribute to building an evidence-base for policy and decision-making in marine conservation.

Candidate Background:

Essential skills:

  • Background in social science, human geography, cultural anthropology, environmental
  • psychology, or similar experience is necessary
  • The candidate should be willing and able to travel independently for fieldwork and conduct independent fieldwork in rural locations
  • Willingness to develop capacities in social science methodologies is essential
  • An interest in working across disciplines is essential

Desirable skills:

  • Previous experience in working in remote locations, and in the context or marine conservation, ideally in the UK, is highly desirable
  • Previous experience of engaging with cultural ecosystem services would be highly beneficial
  • An understanding of relevant methods associated with collection and analyses of qualitatively or quantitatively derived social science data is desirable
  • An interest in integrating arts-based methodologies for community engagement to explore immaterial values through images, art work or written texts would be desirable
  • A valid driving license for the UK is highly desirable

Candidates should have, or expect to achieve, a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Masters level.

We encourage applications from all backgrounds and communities, and are committed to having a diverse, inclusive team.

Informal enquiries are encouraged, please contact Dr Flurina Wartmann ([Email Address Removed]) for further information



  • Please visit this page for full application information: How To Apply – QUADRAT
  • Please send your completed application form, along with academic transcripts to [Email Address Removed]
  • Please ensure that two written references from your referees are submitted. It is your responsibility to ensure these are provided, as we will not request references on your behalf.
  • Unfortunately, due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications.
  • CV's submitted directly through a FindAPhD enquiry WILL NOT be considered.
  • If you require any additional assistance in submitting your application or have any queries about the application process, please don't hesitate to contact us at [Email Address Removed]
Anthropology (2) Biological Sciences (4) Geography (17)

Funding Notes

This opportunity is open to UK and International students (The proportion of international students appointed through the QUADRAT DTP is capped at 30% by UKRI NERC).
Funding covers:
• A monthly stipend for accommodation and living costs, based on UKRI rates (£18,622 for the 23/24 academic year. Stipend rates for the 24/25 academic year have not been set yet)
• Tuition Fees
• Research and training costs
QUADRAT DTP does not provide funding to cover visa and associated healthcare surcharges for international students.


• Jobstvogt, N., Watson, V., & Kenter, J. O. (2014). Looking below the surface: The cultural ecosystem service values of
UK marine protected areas (MPAs). Ecosystem Services, 10, 97–110.
• Urquhart, J., & Acott, T. (2014). A Sense of Place in Cultural Ecosystem Services: The Case of Cornish Fishing
Communities. Society & Natural Resources, 27(1), 3–19.
• Scully-Engelmeyer, K. M., Granek, E. F., Nielsen-Pincus, M., & Brown, G. (2021). Participatory GIS mapping highlights
indirect use and existence values of coastal resources and marine conservation areas. Ecosystem Services, 50, 101301.

Where will I study?

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.