PhD Opportunities At Sheffield


Our Ph.D. program in Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment (ACCE) offers projects aligned with the grand challenges in environmental research: securing ecosystem services and environmental resources; predicting and mitigating impacts of climate change; understanding the dynamics of biodiversity; and mechanisms of evolutionary change.

This year we are offering 20 competition funded Ph.D. projects, listed below,  with lead supervisor based at The University of Sheffield.

How to apply

Application is now closed

To apply for any of the studentships hosted by The University of Sheffield,  please complete an on-line application form

Online application

Please select ‘Standard Ph.D.’ and the Department from which the title of the ACCE studentship is announced. Fill in the title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. You can apply for more than one project to increase your chances to be nominated for an interview, but you can be interviewed for only one. As a ‘Study term’ the applicants need to point out full-time or  part-time PhDs depending on their wish.  The starting date of Ph.D. will be the start of the next academic year- 1 Oct 2017. The ‘Funding stage’ on the form will be ‘project studentship’.


The studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. EU nationals who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for ‘a fees-only award’ which covers the tuition fees at RCUK level and Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), but not stipend. Further information about eligibility you can find in RCUK Training Grant Guide.

Within equal opportunities principles and regulations, applications will be assessed in the light of a candidate’s ability to meet the required criteria. Students will be evaluated by application and by interview performance.


Fully funded for a minimum of 3.5 years, studentships cover: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (at least £14,296 per annum for 2017-2018), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.
Selection process: Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield the w/c 13th February 2017.

The application is now CLOSED

ACCE Ph.D. Projects

Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

  1. Cost-effectively conserving Afro-Palearctic migrants in West Africa
    Lead supervisor: Dr. David P. Edwards, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: John W. Mallord; Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, Dr.Colin Beale, Biology, University of York.
  2. Evolutionary dynamics of the avian sex chromosomes
    Lead supervisor: Dr. Alison Wright, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Prof. Jon Slate, University of Sheffield, APS; Steve Paterson, Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour, University of Liverpool.
  3. Growth or defence? Functional trade-offs in changing environments
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Colin Osborne, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Prof. Sue Hartley, Biology, University of York.
  4. Grassland Carbon and Climate Change: will soil nutrients limit carbon uptake in a high CO2 future?
    Lead supervisor: Dr. Gareth K Phoenix, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr Jessica Davies, Lancaster Environment Centre, University of Lancaster.
  5. Biodiversity in the genomic age: how did grasses become so diverse?
    Lead supervisor:Dr. Pascal-Antoine Christin, University of Sheffield, APS 
    Co-supervisors: Maria Vorontsova; Comparative Plant & Fungal Biology, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Colin Osborne; Animal and Plant Sciences, Sheffield; William Baker, Comparative Plant & Fungal Biology, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  6. Experimental evolution of local adaptation and speciation
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Roger Butlin, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Michael Brockhurst; Biology, York; Andrew Beckerman, Animal and Plant Sciences, Sheffield; Rhonda Snook; Animal and Plant Sciences, Sheffield.
  7. The evolution of iridescent blue colour in Heliconius butterflies and its role in behaviour
    Lead supervisor:Dr. Nicola Nadeau, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Mike Speed, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool.
  8. Predicting and managing the recovery of tropical forests
    Lead supervisor:Prof. Robert P Freckleton, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. David Edwards, Univeristy of Sheffield, APS.
  9. Alien parrots: social and genetic structure of an invasive population
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Ben Hatchwell, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Dan Franks, Biology & Computer Science, University of York; Juan Carlos Senar; Natural History Museum of Barcelona, Spain.
  10. The genetics of how environmental fluctuation accelerates the aging process
    Lead supervisor: Dr. Mirre Simons, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Sean Sweeney, Biology, York.
  11. Ecological Impacts of Chemicals in a Changing World
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Lorraine Maltby, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Alistair Boxall, Environment, University of York; Richard Williams, Water Resources Assessment, CEH.
  12. How does the Bedbug’s microbiome affect its fitness?
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Mike Siva-Jothy, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Seth Barribeau, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool.
  13. Why do individuals differ in fitness? Quality differences and life-history trade-offs in a wild bird
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Terry Burke, University of Sheffield, APS
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Mirre Simons, University of Sheffield, APS

Department of Geography

  1. Modeling cod diet and food web dynamics in the Barents Sea
    Lead supervisor: Prof Grant R Bigg, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Hua-liang Wei,  Automatic Control & Systems Engineering; Dr. Geir Ottersen, Institute of Marine Research, Oslo, Norway.
  2. Unlocking records of high magnitude rapid environmental change in the Mediterranean using coupled amino acid racemization and luminescence dating of sediment archives.
    Lead supervisor: Prof Ed Rhodes, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Kirsty Penkman, Department of Chemistry, University of York.
  3. Reconstructing glacier behavior in the Himalaya from the ‘Little Ice Age’ to the present day to predict future change
    Lead supervisor: Dr. Ann Rowan, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Stephen J Livingstone, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;Dr. David Rippin, Environment (York); Dr. Duncan Quincey, Geography (Leeds).
  4. Reconstructing historical storminess in the North Sea from climate and sediment archives
    Lead supervisor: Prof. Mark D Bateman, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;
    Co-supervisors: : Dr. Julie Jones, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield; Dr. Neil Macdonald, Geography, and Planning, Univeristy of Liverpool; Prof Roland Gehrels
    Department: Environment.
  5. Origin of overdeepened bedrock basins and valleys in ice sheet settings
    Lead supervisor: Dr. Darrel A Swift, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;
    Co-supervisors: Dr. Stephen J Livingstone, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield; Dr Urs H Fischer, Nagra (National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Switzerland.

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

  1. Investigating drainage beneath the British-Irish Ice Sheet: groundwater flow modeling and meltwater channel networks
    Lead supervisor: Dr. Domenico Baú, Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield;
    Co-supervisors:  Dr. Stephen Livingstone, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield;  Professor Chris Clark, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield; Dr. Christopher Jackson, British Geological Survey;

School of Mathematics and Statistics

  1. Modeling and Inference for Movement by Interacting Individuals

Lead supervisor: Prof. Paul Blackwell, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sheffield; 
Co-supervisors:  Dr. Jon Pitchford; Dept of Biology & Dept of Mathematics, University of York;Dr. Mark Lambert; National Wildlife Management Centre, Animal, and Plant Health Agency