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Understanding impact of e-waste recycling on environmental pollution from emerging contaminants

   Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

  Dr Ivan Kourtchev, Prof Sue Charlesworth, Dr Damien Callahan, Dr Will Gates  Thursday, October 20, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

The successful applicant will spend the 1st year at Coventry University and the following year at Deakin University and then the final 1.5 years at Coventry University

Human activities produce >50 million tonnes (Mt) of electronic wastes (or e-wastes) which may reach 111 Mt pa by 2050. E-wastes contain numerous toxic chemicals including metals and organic compounds e.g., chlorofluorocarbons, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, furans. Improper disposal and recycling (e.g., recovering precious metals) of e-wastes can lead to release of chemicals posing severe threats to environmental and human health. Most current studies focusing on mitigating pollution from e-wastes are related to inorganic and persistent organic pollutants. However, electronic products are enriched with a range of other pollutants. For example, poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances or “forever chemicals”, a class of emerging contaminant used in electronic products to improve product performance. Most of these pollutants, including phthalates, siloxanes, and fluorotelomer alcohols can transfer into the atmosphere as aerosols or dispersed particles, penetrate the respiratory system leading to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer. Understanding the variability and potential risk that e-wastes pose is essential for the circular economy and chemical safety in urban environments. The novelty of this project is the focus on surveying the variety of e-waste materials, assessing the potential for contamination from these materials and recommend methods to mitigate their transfer to the overlying atmosphere.

 Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme.  

This includes;  

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates). 
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first-class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports. 
  •  Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).  
  •  The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.  

 For an overview of each University’s entry requirements please visit:  

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (England) and Deakin University (Australia)

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Will Gates (DU) and Dr Iven Kourtchev

Application Process

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

All candidates must apply to both Universities.

For the Coventry application, please visit: 

For the Deakin application, please visit:

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