PhD opportunity: Coastal Dynamics from Space

Director of Studies: Professor Gerd Masselink

Additional Supervisors: Dr Tim Scott, Professor Daniel Conley, Dr Christopher Stokes

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 January 2020.

Project description

Increased spatial and temporal resolution of satellite imagery has made remote sensing an extremely powerful tool for studying coastal change and dynamics, potentially linked to climate change impacts. The method has been used in a variety of coastal environments, such as beaches, dunes, deltas, arctic coastlines and mangroves, to study the impacts of a range of processes, including storms, tsunami, sea-level rise and human interference.

This 3-year PhD project will use satellite imagery to study coastal dynamics, and explain these dynamics in terms of internal and external forcing conditions. The coastal environment under investigation and the specific forcing process(es) to be studied are as yet undetermined, but will be decided during the first phase of the research. It is the objective of the PhD to investigate coastal dynamics on at least a pan-European scale, opening up the opportunity to link the observed changes to north Atlantic met-ocean forcing processes. Ground-truthing is likely to be required, necessitating conducting complimentary fieldwork. For example, storm-response surveys of topographic change and associated hydrodynamic forcing may be conducted using a suite of sensors from our instrument roster. Collaboration with other partners may also be required (e.g., MetOffice, Plymouth Marine Laboratory).

We are seeking a PhD candidate with a background in marine science, physical geography, geology, coastal engineering or applied maths/physics, and with strong numeracy, communication and inter-personal skills, and a strong affinity for the marine environment. Experience in analysing satellite imagery and familiarity with relevant advanced software would be highly desirable (Matlab, Python, ARC-GIS, QGIS, ERDAS).


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second-class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.


The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,009 per annum. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £12,285 per annum).

How to apply

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Gerd Masselink. However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for a research degree at University of Plymouth.

You can apply via the online application form.

Please mark it FAO Aimee McNeillie and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Biological and Marine Sciences.

For more information on the admissions process contact Aimee McNeillie.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 30 September 2019. 

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview on 21, 22 or 23 October 2019. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an interview offer by 11 October 2019 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.