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Treating New and Emerging Pollutants associated with slums in developing countries using Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS): monitoring and modelling

Project Description

Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship investigating whether Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) can treat/ remove New and Emerging Pollutants (NEPs) ubiquitous in slums using test bed models designed, constructed, monitored and modelled in the UK. There will be an opportunity for the successful candidate to visit informal settlements in South Africa in collaboration with the University of Cape Town.

Informal settlements are ubiquitous in developing countries. They are constructed in areas which are otherwise unsuitable for formal habitation, ie on steep slopes or on low lying land with high groundwater tables. Drainage and greywater management are generally absent, with disposal on the street leading to polluted streams flowing through the settlement causing negative impacts on human and environmental health. Included in the greywater are NEPs such as personal care products, hormones, microplastics and pharmaceuticals in a toxic mixture peculiar to these settlements. Conventional infrastructure for water treatment would not be relevant in such contexts, so we propose building and testing SuDS test beds at CU, Ryton, Coventry, based on bioremediation (tree pits, trickle trenches, swales etc) with innovative sub-surface layers such as biochar to enhance treatment potential, in an innovative project to determine their performance to treat the NEPs. This will be achieved by combining chemical and physical data with numerical mathematical modelling techniques to optimise flow regimes, imperative to ensuring the SuDS design is suitable for a slum context.

Start Date: September 2020

Duration of Study: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Training and Development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.
All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry criteria for applicants to PhD

• A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
• a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

It would be desirable for the candidate to have experience of working in an environmental analytical laboratory; monitoring of small scale test beds; undertaking fieldwork; familiarity with mathematical/ computational modelling; management of large databases. However, full training will be given for all aspects of the project as required.

For further details see:

To find out more about the project please contact:
Professor Sue Charlesworth:

To apply on line please visit:

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Funding Notes

Stipend rate equivalent to those set by UKRI, rising annually at approx. 1.25% per year

Additional allowances:
Bench fees, construction material, conference travel, travel to South Africa, subsistence for 1 month.

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