Our Strategic Research Partnership with University College Cork

We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that seeks to address some of the key climate challenges and opportunities of our time

Climate change is a global emergency. In the wake of COP26, it is more evident than ever that the world needs to take radical action to tackle this crisis.

To that end, the University of Plymouth and University College Cork have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join forces in establishing a Post-COP26 Doctoral Training Partnership.

It will build on the universities’ reputations for world-leading and award-winning marine and sustainability research and teaching. The two institutions have made significant investments in sustainability, environmental and marine research over many years and have built up substantial capacity in these areas as a result.

It will aim to address some of the key climate challenges and opportunities of our time, while inspiring and nurturing the next generation of innovative and pioneering researchers.

<p>Sustainability plant 4</p>

A shared vision of excellence

The University of Plymouth was named as one of the top 25 institutions globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, and 1st globally in relation to SDG 14: Life Below Water.

The relationship between land and sea is woven into the University’s heritage and this has resulted in a number of national and international awards, most notably two Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education, presented in 2012 and 2020.

Its Marine Institute is the first and largest such institute in the UK, while has won prestigious awards for its efforts to embed sustainability across its campuses, its research and its teaching.

Its Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world. It brings researchers together with businesses, community groups and individuals to develop cutting-edge research and innovative approaches that build resilience to global challenges.



University College Cork (UCC)
is an award-winning institution with a history of independent thinking stretching back over 170 years. UCC is ranked in the top 2% of universities in the world. The university opened its gates to just 115 students in 1849 and now has a student population of over 22,500.

UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) is a flagship university institute dedicated to generating research to facilitate a transformation to a zero carbon, resource efficient, and sustainable society. The Institute brings together over 400 researchers from 25 university schools and departments and six research centres to address the global sustainability challenges of Climate Action, Circular Economy & Healthy Environment using inter-disciplinary approaches.

MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine research and innovation, coordinated by the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), comprises over 220 researchers focusing on defined global challenges such as the Energy Transition, Climate Action and the Blue Economy.

<p>Campus entrance Roland Levinsky</p>
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Aerial view of Plymouth Sound

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A pioneering new partnership

The Post-COP26 Doctoral Training Partnership will host six PhD students, three registered in Plymouth and three in Cork. They will be jointly supervised by academic staff across both institutions so they can benefit from the combined experience at expertise of the two universities. They will adopt a whole systems approach, be inter- and trans-disciplinary, and focus on one or more of the listed priority areas.

The research projects will cover more than one of the following priorities:

  • Deliver the Blue Economy
  • Build Resilient Coastal Communities
  • Achieve and Maintain Healthy Landscapes
  • Enable the Zero Carbon Energy Transition

<p>Coastal research at Porthleven</p>
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</p><div><div>Offshore wind farm at sunset. Image courtesy of Getty Images.</div></div><p></p>
<p>Irish Coastline</p>

Facts and figures

  • Ranked 23rd of more than 1,100 universities worldwide – and first globally in relation to SDG 14: Life Below Water – in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, reinforcing our reputation for world-leading and award-winning research and teaching across marine and sustainability disciplines.
  • Top UK university for Marine and Ocean Engineering (ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2019).
  • A three-time winner of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, most recently in 2019 for marine microplastics pollution research.
  • Six Green Gown Awards since 2011, including three in 2014.
  • UCC is ranked 8th in the world for sustainability as measured by UI Green Metric.
  • It is the top Irish university for highly cited researchers as measured by the prestigious Shanghai ranking of global universities.
  • Web of Science/Clarivate noted that 13 of the 32 of the world’s highest cited researchers in Ireland are based at UCC. Many of these are from our College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.
  • UCC is ranked 8th in the world for impact as measured by Times Higher Education World University Impact Rankings 2021 and in the top 1% in the world for its work on the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • UCC is the Top Irish University for Industry collaboration – Knowledge Transfer Ireland and is the leading Irish university with regard to actively seeking and securing investment in Research and Development (R&D).

Related information on the University of Plymouth website

Read more about related work at University College Cork