Fully Funded Studentship

Testing In-stream Methods for the Mitigation of Diffuse Water Pollution from Agriculture

Faculty of Science

Research Keywords:
Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography


We have several selection rounds. If you wish to be considered in our March meeting please apply by 31 January. Applications received by 31 Mar will be considered in May.

Supervisory Team:

Primary: Professor Kevin Hiscock

Secondary: Dr Ros Boar

The Project:

The River Wensum catchment in Norfolk is a calcareous lowland river with protected conservation status. The relatively flat terrain and lowland drainage in the catchment has supported the development of intensive agricultural techniques. Over 80% of the land is used for arable and livestock farming, with a heavy reliance on fertilisers that has lead to the classification of over 90% of the land in the catchment as especially vulnerable to diffuse water pollution. The region is subject to legislation such as the EU Water Framework Directive aimed at reducing runoff of agricultural contaminants. Efforts to mitigate diffuse pollution include work on nitrate leaching, the control of soil erosion and on the mobilisation and delivery of phosphorus from agricultural land. However, most of the work to date focuses on demonstrating the effectiveness of individual mitigation measures at the field-scale with few studies addressing measures to improve the in-stream river habitat to naturally attenuate diffuse pollution, control sediment loss and improve the ecological status of water courses.

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Within the framework of the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) Project (www.wensumalliance.org.uk) which is evaluating the extent to which mitigation measures can cost-effectively reduce the impacts of water pollution on river ecology, this studentship will systematically test through the collection of physical, chemical and ecological measurements, in-stream methods of improving the capacity of drainage channels to trap and decrease levels of nutrients (N and P), pesticides and suspended sediment. In conjunction with the field monitoring programme already in place in the Wensum DTC Project, methods to be tested that potentially slow hydrological pathways and stabilise channel banks include: current deflectors; channel narrowing with aquatic ledges; restating a sinuous channel profile; and willow pole or mattress revetments.

Suitable applicants for this studentship will have a background in one or more of the following areas: environmental sciences, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering and terrestrial aquatic sciences. Knowledge of diffuse pollution management and the development of sustainable rural drainage systems would be advantageous but not necessary. The successful applicant will join an active group of researchers within the Wensum DTC Project which will provide support with field and laboratory methods, providing an excellent opportunity to develop catchment science skills.  PhD graduates in catchment science can expect rewarding opportunities within water companies, the environmental consultancy sector and several agencies.

Entry Requirements:

A first or upper second class UK honours degree, or international equivalent in Environmental sciences, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering, terrestrial aquatic sciences or geography.


Funding is available to EU students. If funding is awarded for this project it will cover tuition fees and stipend for UK students. EU students may be eligible for full funding, or tuition fees only, depending on the funding source.

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Making Your Application: Please apply via the University’s online application system which can be accessed by clicking the Apply Link below.   To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: pgr.enquiries.admiss@uea.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709.

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