PhD studentship at the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University

Exploring a natural capital approach in the Upper Mersey Estuary for improved decision making and investment in the environment

Expected start date: between the 17th – 28th June 2019.


Project Description

A fully funded PhD studentship has been made available at the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University. This PhD studentship will be co-supervised alongside the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET). The applicant will benefit from being based within the School’s Environment Research Group ( as well as having links to the Universities cross faculty Institute for Health Research, particularly the multidisciplinary Green Spaces Interest Group ( The student will join a small group of postgraduate students working on natural capital based topics, within a larger group (approx 25) of environmental science researchers. The student will also gain from the support of the MGET. The MGET ( is an independent charity with the vision to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the Upper Mersey Estuary and related areas for people and wildlife. This includes supporting and engaging in innovative approaches to environmental management across its remit and related areas.

DEFRA’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment set the course for the UK to be the first country to take a natural capital approach to environmental policy with the aim to achieving both a healthy environment alongside sustainable economic growth. The plan set out how investment in the natural environment could be funded through a developer net gain, a new Environmental Land Management System (ELMS) and innovative funding mechanisms to drive private investment into Natural Capital. Establishing how best to implement the Natural Capital Approach at a local level, for example through local policy mechanisms (i.e. spatial development plans), identifying sources of public and private funds and setting local targets and priorities for investment in natural capital will key to the success of the plan.

The MGET is an ideal testbed within the Liverpool City Region for the application of the natural capital approach, as it aims to conserve, protect and improve the environment across 1600 ha of the Upper Mersey Estuary (UME) by establishing management and monitoring with the objective to achieve net environmental gain.

This project will test a natural capital approach in the Upper Mersey Estuary through activities such as:

• The creation of a Natural Capital baseline.
• Stakeholder engagement to explore their dependencies and impacts on natural capital.
• Scenarios development to explore the effects of development/investment within UME and the effects of natural capital an economic growth.

The work will complement existing activities within the Liverpool City Region and nationally and feed into the debate on how best to implement DEFRA’s 25 year plan.

The applicant should have a 2.1 honours degree or above in a relevant subject (i.e. environmental science, geography, ecology or environmental economics). Masters level qualifications and/or evidence of existing peer reviewed publications would be desirable. The candidate will be expected to engage with key stakeholders locally and nationally. Excellent communication skills and the ability to network will therefore be important. Candidates which can show evidence of the ability to work independently will also be favourably considered.

The PhD will be supervised by Dr Colm Bowe ( and Dr Jason Kirby ( from the School of Natural Science and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Dr Andrea Drewitt ( from the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET).

Funding Notes

Only UK & EU citizens can apply for this studentship. Funding will consist of full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates. Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress. £1500 will be provided each year for project consumables.


To apply send a CV (max 2 pages) and covering letter (max 1 page) detailing your suitability for the studentship and contact details of two referees to by midnight on Friday 5th April 2019. Interviews will be held late April/early May 2019.

For an informal discussion about this opportunity, please email for more information.