The MBA offers a number of opportunities each year for PhD students interested in a career in marine science. PhD studentships available at the MBA will be advertised here and on the main Vacancies page. Please check regularly for updates.

National Environmental Research Council (NERC) studentships are awarded through Doctoral Training Partnerships involving a range of university and academic partners. The MBA is currently involved in three NERC DTPs:

  • INSPIRE - with the University of Southampton
  • ARIES - with the Universities of East Anglia, Kent, Plymouth, Royal Holloway and Essex
  • GW4+ with the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Cardiff

The MBA is also an associate member of a DTP funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC):

  • SWBio3 - with the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Cardiff

MBA PhD Open Day

For students who want to find out more about studying for a PhD at the MBA, we are holding an Open Day. This event will give prospective students an opportunity to meet supervisers and current PhD students. If you wish to attend please register your interest. Register

Current opportunities

There are a range of PhD studentships now available at the MBA. We advise you to contact individual supervisors directly for informal discussion if you are interested in applying for a PhD project.

ARIES DTP (deadline 7th January 2020)

INSPIRE DTP (deadline 4th January 2021)

GW4+ DTP (deadline 6th January 2020)

SWBio3 DTP (deadline 7th December 2020)

DTP studentships hosted in other institutes that involve MBA researchers

The Marine Biological Association has a vibrant student community, with more than 20 full-time PhD students and an annual cohort of Masters students (MRes in Marine Biology) in association with Plymouth University.

MBA PhD students are associated with a number of top UK universities, providing an important link with the wider scientific community.

Our students play an important role in the outreach and science communication activities of the MBA - follow the @MBAPressGang on Twitter!

The MBA also has one the best views in Plymouth - see for yourself on our webcam.

To find out more about the current MBA PhD students read our Case Studies below.


Samantha Simpson [PhD student]

The aim of my PhD is to understand the movement ecology of skates (Rajidae) in UK waters, using trawl survey data, electronic tags and stable isotope analysis to identify differences in habitat selection between 4 species of skate. Half my time is spent out and about at the different sampling locations in the South-West and the rest of my time is spent analysing all the data! The MBA provides an excellent opportunity for early career researchers to work with experienced and highly successful supervisors. 

Kimberley Bird [PhD student]

My research focus is to develop a better understanding of the marine carbon monoxide sink using a combination of laboratory experiments and field surveys. The aims of my project are to characterise the diversity of carbon monoxide oxidising bacteria from coast to open ocean and to better understand the underlying eco-physical mechanisms of microbial CO-oxidation.

Most of my time is split between field work and lab work. I have spent nearly 100 days at sea collecting samples both locally of the coast of Plymouth and on research cruises in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The rest of my time I spend in the lab using a combination of molecular, genetic and traditional microbiology techniques to carry out experiments and analyse field samples.

The MBA is a fantastic institute to a part of, it is a friendly and nurturing academic environment with a wealth of expertise and resources in all things marine science, it has a rich scientific history and one of the best views of any work place I know!

The MBA runs a MRes in Marine Biology in association with the University of Plymouth. The course provides an an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience with research groups performing world-class marine science at the MBA and university.

Many of our MRes students go on to study PhDs and follow wider careers in marine biology.

The course is coordinated by MBA Research Fellow Dr Michael Cunliffe.

MRes Marine Biology

Dr Michael Cunliffe

MBA Research Fellow

Lecturer, Univeristy of Plymouth

PhD enquiries

Dr Glen Wheeler

MBA Senior Research Fellow