Emily Stevenson (co-founder of Beach Guardian - Community Interest Company based in Cornwall) standing on driftwood facing sea during a Beach Clean at Constantine Bay
The Marine Institute supports students and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to maximise their potential by recognising talent and by providing access to funding, training and external opportunities through partnerships. It also provides more senior academic staff with access to various financial support and training. Available opportunities for all stages of the academic pathway are compiled here. 
Staff members can request to be added to the Marine Institute mailing list, which receives the monthly newsletter and updates on relevant events and funding information.
Please note the abbreviations / designations used to indicate the suitability of an opportunity for each stage of the career pathway: Undergraduate (UG), Masters (M), PhD, Early Career Researcher (ECR), Staff. 

Funding opportunities

Ashfords Research and Training Bursary (UG)

The Ashfords Research and Training Bursary enables undergraduate students to undertake an external placement, research visit, expedition or training course that is related to their degree and to the marine/maritime sector, either in the UK or overseas.
Note that the University also offer overseas mobility grants through various schemes, which are handled by the Global Opportunities team. 

PlyMSEF Grant-In-Aid (GIA) (PhD, ECR)

The Plymouth Marine Science and Education Foundation (PlyMSEF) provides travel grants to enable research students to attend academic conferences and symposia or to attend advanced training courses or workshops in marine disciplines. Applicants must be registered PhD students or postgraduate scientists within four years of graduation employed in marine-related research projects and have a strong affiliation with one of their partner institutions.
Check the PlyMSEF page for details. The GIA typically opens for applications in early November.

Marine Research Plymouth PhD studentship (UG, M, Staff)

Established in 2021, Marine Research Plymouth (MRP) is a collaboration between the Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the University of Plymouth (UoP). Led by the Marine Institute, the partnership offers an annual PhD studentship scheme that brings together research staff from all three partners, harnessing the full range of expertise and facilities available within MRP, providing a great springboard for collaborative research excellence and for student prospects in their onward career.
Staff: the call for project proposals is likely to be announced at the end of June and will be open until September.
Students: available projects are typically advertised online for candidate applications between October–January and are published on our postgraduate research studentships page.

Travel to policy-related events (ECR, Staff)

The Marine Institute can provide limited financial support to staff that do not have access to suitable research budgets or other funds to cover costs associated with travel to policy-related meetings and thus to help maximise impact from research. Contact the Institute to submit a request for support.
Research and Innovation (R&I) also offer the Policy Engagement Travel & Subsistence Fund, which is a discretionary fund to support staff policy engagement activity and networking. It is offered to staff that have previously taken part in Policy Engagement Training offered by R&I (see Career Development section). The fund could support travel to, e.g., report launches, roundtables, All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meetings. The fund is limited and will operate on a first-come, first-served basis. The below criteria apply:
  •  The event is policy-related and will allow you to network with policymakers / policy actors.
  •  You can articulate how attendance would benefit your specific policy engagement goal.
  •  T&S costs are in line with the UoP Travel and Subsistence Policy.
If you are interested in applying to this fund, please contact policyengagement@plymouth.ac.uk providing: details of the event; how it will contribute to your policy engagement goals; estimated costs.

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (SoBMS) funding options (UG, PhD)

The School of Biological and Marine Sciences (SoBMS) offers assistance to PhD students wanting to attend a conference if they are not funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in the first instance. Awards of £300 are given towards travel expenses if students apply to do a poster/talk. More information and an application form can be found on the school's DLE under postgrad matters.
Undergraduate students in SoBMS completing a Final Year Research project can request a limited amount of funds from the School towards expenses. Request details from your project supervisor.

External funding options (UG, M, PhD, ECR)

Various external funding opportunities are available to students and ECRs for activities such as research projects, training courses or conference attendance. A selection of marine-related opportunities is provided here, but this is by no means intended as an exhaustive list, nor is the Marine Institute in any way responsible for the content of these external websites. Ensure to check carefully the eligibility criteria of any funding scheme before applying.

Recognition of young talent (UG)

Ashfords Final Year Project Prize

The Final Year Project Prize offers current undergraduate students the opportunity to be recognised for high quality performance in a final year research project that is related to the marine sector and is of relevance to UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

Ashfords Scholarship

The Scholarship enables current final year undergraduate students to continue their education at the University via a marine-related postgraduate masters level course, with a key aim of helping to retain talented students in the region.

Career development opportunities

PlyMSEF Annual Conference (M, PhD, ECR)

The PlyMSEF Annual Postgraduate Student Conference showcases work undertaken by postgraduate and early career researchers associated with Plymouth-based institutes, with a focus on the marine environment.
The conference is typically held in the first half of every calendar year. Check the PlyMSEF page for details.

Volunteering, internship projects and expeditions abroad (UG, M, PhD, ECR, Staff)

WorkingAbroad is a not-for-profit company, established in 2002, working with international NGOs at the forefront of marine conservation volunteering, wildlife and habitat conservation volunteering, environmental education and ecology volunteer programmes and internships. Several of their projects are particularly suitable for marine biology and conservation students: Marine Conservation, Turtles and Reptiles, Dolphins and Whales, Coral Reefs.
Ocean Warrior, part of the Global Warrior Project, is an expedition to remote regions of the Arctic Ocean repeated annually over the course of ten years, focusing on climate change. Starting in 2024, the expedition will call into ports in Norway, the UK, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. The exploration will be conducted by sailing boat and is designed to gather oceanographic scientific data that will help to build an improved picture of the changes taking place due to climate change and other factors, and also to help ‘ground-truth’ data collected using satellites. Supported by the UoP, MBA and PML as scientific partners, the expeditions are open to anyone wanting to contribute directly to climate science. Ten fully funded places are available each year.
Note that the Marine Institute is not responsible for the content of the external websites featured here and also does not exercise quality control over the experiences offered. If you take part in any of the opportunities listed, we would be very keen to learn about your experience.

Ocean Giants Programme for Conservationist Development (UG)

The Ocean Giants Programme for Conservationist Development is an initiative coordinated by the Manta Trust, in collaboration with the University’s School of Biological and Marine Sciences. This partnership enables students to gain training and work experience in international marine conservation charity operations through a 2-year apprenticeship alongside their studies, and to actively participate in working to protect threatened marine megafauna.
First-year students studying marine sciences at the University and planning to incorporate a placement year can apply at the start of Semester 2. Further information is provided to students during the course.

Research and Innovation (R&I) workshops and coaching (ECR, Staff)

Research and Innovation (R&I) offer workshops around Policy Engagement, provided by external consultant Jo Clift, who has also authored some THE Featured Resources.
The four workshops available are as below and further details of content and 2024 dates can be found on SharePoint (log-in required). R&I also offer some 1-2-1 coaching and mentoring around Policy Engagement. Enquiries should be directed to policyengagement@plymouth.ac.uk.
  • Policy Engagement Fundamentals
  • Building your policy network and overcoming the Imposter Syndrome
  • How to write a Policy Brief
  • Engaging with Parliament

Engaging Policymakers Training (ECR, Staff)

The Marine Institute has partnered with Incredible Oceans and Siren Calling to provide training that equips academic staff with the skills to become confident and persuasive communicators. Having the skills to enthuse, communicate and engage effectively with decision-/policymakers, commercial partners, funders, academic peers, the press and the public helps them champion and showcase their research, maximising its impact.
The next training date has been confirmed for Thursday 25 April 2024. Contact the Marine Institute to book your place.

Sense About Science – VoYS workshops (ECR)

A partnership with Voice of Young Science (VoYS) gives ECRs associated with the Marine Institute access to interactive workshops, equipping them with the confidence and know-how to engage with the media, the public and policymakers, and to get started in peer review. The course fee is covered by the Marine Institute and guarantees participation for at least 20 ECRs. Applications beyond this will be allocated free of charge, if there is availability. Places will be allocated based on the strength of your application. Places are open to ECRs from PhD through to experienced postdoctoral researchers. The Marine Institute can also cover the costs of travel to / from the meeting up to £400 per person (in accordance with the UoP Travel Policy).
Applications are now open for the 2024 workshops. Go to https://senseaboutscience.org/voys/workshops/ and select a workshop at a venue of your choice to access the application form. Also confirm your interest to marine.institute@plymouth.ac.uk so that travel costs can be budgeted for.

Sense About Science – Evidence Week (ECR, Staff)

Frontline researchers from across the UK are able to discuss their findings relevant to newly emerging policy issues with MPs and Peers during Evidence Week in Westminster, which can help establish vital relationships and enable them to work together to inform future policies and legislation.
Following on from successful participation in 2023 on the topics of Plastic Pollution and Cyber Security, the Marine Institute will be funding a further two evidence pods for 2024 on evidencing fish stock and habitat benefits of offshore aquaculture and on the impacts of artificial light pollution on marine biodiversity. Participants will be supported in producing a short film on their research and a policy brief.
Contact us to express an interest if you are interested in taking part in Evidence Week 2025.

Defra Research and Development Fellowship Programme (M, PhD, ECR, Staff)

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a Research & Development Fellowship Programme in December 2023. Fellows will use their scientific or analytical skills to work alongside Defra policy and evidence teams on a range of priority and strategic policy issues. Appointments are for up to one year and applicants will need undergraduate and postgraduate degrees or equivalent experience to be eligible. Applications for 2024 fellowships closed in early January but are likely to open for the 2025 intake nearer the end of the year.