An estuary feeding into the sea

Uncovering sustainable adaptation and mitigation strategies to reduce pollutant propagation in coastal areas: countering the effects of human activity.

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

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees 

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

Application deadline: 30 April 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Matteo Rubinato.


Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from highly motivated, suitably qualified graduates for a fully funded PhD studentship in experimental and numerical modelling of pollutant transport in coastal areas in order to optimize low-cost sustainable solutions to reduce the impacts caused by human activity and climate change.

Project details

Coastal environments are some of the most densely populated on Earth. With greater challenges projected in the future due to climate change and pollution, their healthy existence seems increasingly perilous. Bahia is Brazil’s fourth biggest state by population and is disproportionately settled at the coast and heavily relies on marine resources.

This project aims to develop innovative and powerful strategies to optimize low-cost sustainable solutions to reduce the impacts of pollutant transport. Specific objectives are:

Obj.1: Assess –using field-work and remote sensing– water quality in coastal regions of Bahia, characterizing the sources and dispersion patterns of pollutants.

Obj.2: Identify –through field-work and laboratory experimentation– new nature-based, low-cost and sustainable solutions to reduce the impact of pollutants in coastal areas.

Obj.3: Investigate –through numerical simulation– the solutions’ performance under multiple hydraulic conditions typical of climate change scenarios.

In summary, the project will develop sustainable low-cost solutions to reduce the impact of pollution, thereby enhancing lives of people living along Bahia’s coast. Results obtained will be applicable in other densely populated areas in other Official Development Assistance (ODA) coastal zones. In doing this, this study aligns with the global challenge “Sustainable Economies and Societies” and with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 11, 13, 14 and 15.


This is a fully funded position. Funding covers tuition fees and a stipend of £15,609 per annum for 3.5 years. An additional research allowance of £4,500 is available over the duration of the project for research-related travel and equipment. A further allowance of £1,050 is also available to support the candidate’s personal and professional development as researchers (£250 in years 1 and 2, and £550 in year 3).


Academic Environment

Established in 2014 through substantial university investment, the Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience (CAWR) is rapidly building a global reputation for transdisciplinary research into processes of resilience in social-ecological systems. Among its key lines of research is work focusing on modelling of water and food systems, aided by high performance computing facilities. The Centre also houses a number of state-of-the-art laboratories ( which are available for use by the successful candidate.

Training and Development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. The supervisory team can provide training in hydraulics, physical and numerical environmental modelling, GIS and remote sensing. 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

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

 For further details please visit:

Additional requirements

Essential criteria:

  • Knowledge of hydraulics and sediment/pollutant transport
  • Experience with at least two of the following: environmental modelling, numerical modelling, GIS, remote sensing
  • High-level programming languages
  • Great knowledge of: basic statistical techniques, Excel, quantitative data analysis, experimental data analysis
  • Excellent written and spoken English language skills (e.g. effective presentation skills, writing technical/scientific reports)
  • Creativity in problem solving
  • Strong research ethic
  • Proven ability to undertake independent study
  • The candidate will be required to work in a foreign country for up to 2 months per year throughout the duration of the project, and will need to work largely independently for this period.

Desirable criteria:

  • Experience with any of the following: advanced statistical techniques, computational fluid dynamics, flume-based hydraulic modelling

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Matteo Rubinato.

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

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