a pile of face masks on a beach

Microplastics and chemical additives from disposable face masks and their health and environmental impact

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International (including EU at international rates from Sept 21)

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Anna Bogush and Dr Svetlana Stevanovic.


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

The supervision team will be drawn from the two Universities.

Project details

The production and consumption of disposable face masks increased dramatically during COVID-19 pandemic and that created new challenges for local authorities due to the volume of personal protective equipment waste being created. Unfortunately, disposable face masks are not currently recyclable via normal routes and also often dispose incorrectly, that was a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic. The disposable face masks are usually made of polypropylene (PP), but other polymers like polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), polyamide (PA)/Nylon, polyester (PE), polyphenylene oxide (PPO) and chlorotrifluoroethylene (CTFE) are also used for mask production. Recently, disposable face masks were found in a high amount in the terrestrial and aquatic environment and can be a source of microplastics and chemical additives. Moreover, microplastics can cause further harmful impact to the environment and human health due to entering food chains via ingestion. The main goal of this project is to understand the potential release of microplastics (particle size range: 1 µm - 5 mm) and chemical additives from disposable face masks into the environment and their health and environmental impact. This is an interdisciplinary research project and it will combine a mix of experimental laboratory investigation and social science research.


Tuition fees, stipend and additional allowances.


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. 

Candidate specification

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:  



Additional requirements
  • MSc/BSc in Environmental science, chemistry, biochemistry
  • Strong interest in interdisciplinary research
  • Experience in laboratory and experimental work
  • Some knowledge of statistics and data analysis
  • Ability to work independently and in a team
  • Effective time management and organisation skills

How to apply

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.

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Anna Bogush  and/or Dr Svetlana Stevanovic.     

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