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  Thinking in Systems to Enhance Ocean Resilience

   School of Geography and Environmental Science

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

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  Prof Paul Kemp  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Leverhulme PhD programme is administered by the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences. This particular project will sit under the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Considering marine fish populations and the fishing communities they support, this project will investigate the cumulative effects of a series of shocks (e.g. Brexit, Covid-19, War in Ukraine) on resource resilience and sustainability. Interdisciplinary skills using innovative methodologies that combine machine learning, remote sensing, and social surveys will be developed. 

Global challenges are often complex and fail to fit neatly into any particular unidisciplinary domain; to solve them we must embrace interdisciplinarity. This project will advance sustainable marine fisheries management as part of initiatives to address the global biodiversity crisis while also protecting low-income fishing communities that depend on this primary resource for their livelihoods. We will adopt a systems-based approach to create more resilient ocean resources by taking a holistical perspective that acknowledges complexity and moves away from working in silos. As such, the successful applicant will work at the interdisciplinary interface and so develop a range of appropriate and highly sought after skills (e.g. in systems dynamics, remote sensing, AI and machine learning, and novel social survey techniques). Working with partners at Fishing into the Future , Blue Marine Foundation, and Seafish the successful applicant will investigate how the fishing industry responds to shocks, such as those created by new trading arrangements after Brexit, the inability to fish during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the dramatic increase in fuel prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The findings will have substantial impact by providing lessons on how natural resources, such as fisheries, can be better managed in the face of future global shocks, such as those associated with climate change and global food shortages. The PhD student will work as part of an interdisciplinary team that nurtures creativity within a cohort of other likeminded researchers who are motivated to “think outside the box”.  


You will need to have a 2:1 honours undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. If your grade was lower than 2:1 you can still apply, but your application and narrative CV should demonstrate progression since your degree.

If you have completed a master’s degree, you should have achieved a merit or above including 60% for the dissertation. If you have not completed a master’s, you’ll need to show you can produce high quality writing and analysis.


If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. Your awarded certificate needs to be dated within the last 2 years, and you’ll need all of the following scores as a minimum:

Overall 6.5

Writing 6.0

Reading 6.0

Speaking 6.0

Listening 6.0


  • Programme for Interdisciplinary Resilience Studies application document
  • Narrative résumé
  • Standardised CV
  • Academic transcripts/certificates
  • If a student-led application: research proposal document
  • Any other relevant documents (e.g., language certificate, etc)

Biological Sciences (4) Computer Science (8) Environmental Sciences (13) Geography (17)

Funding Notes

Up to six students will comprise each cohort. We will offer:
4 x studentship to UK (or UK-domiciled) students - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI base rates for maintenance and tuition
1 x studentship to an international student - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI maintenance and University international tuition rates

1 x “Master’s + PhD” studentship to an eligible UK (or UK-domiciled) student - fully funded for 60 months at UKRI maintenance and University tuition rates for: 12 months research master’s degree and 48 months PhD

Plus £10k (£2.5k per year) RTSG for the PhD programme.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography and Environmental Studies?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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