CDT in freshwater bioscience and sustainability

Please note all enquiries relating to student recruitment should be directed to the CDT.

Number of notional studentships awarded: eight per year for three intakes
Academic partners: Cardiff University (academic lead partner), University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Exeter, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the British Geological Survey (BGS).


The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in freshwater bioscience and sustainability was awarded to the FRESH consortium. Freshwater systems provide essential ecosystem services and are crucial to supporting the world’s growing population. However, they are rapidly losing biodiversity and function, putting the essential ecosystem services they provide under threat, with implications for water quality and predictability of water supply. This CDT will train the next generation of UK environmental researchers in the specialist, interdisciplinary and transferable skills necessary to monitor, evaluate, and sustainably manage freshwater resources to meet the needs of the wide range of relevant stakeholders.

NERC has invested about £2.2 million to support this CDT and academic and industry partners have committed to support additional training opportunities. The CDT will provide training between 2018 and 2024.

This CDT will support 24 PhD students funded by NERC over three student intakes between 2018 and 2020.

Research areas and training

The CDT will offer training in freshwater biosciences and the sustainable provision of ecosystem services. PhD studentships will include training in the following areas:

  • assessment of freshwater ecosystem service provision
  • functional and taxonomic diversity of freshwater ecosystems
  • the impact of physical and ecological connectivity on ecosystem function
  • the temporal and spatial variability of freshwater ecosystems
  • quantitative analysis of the response of ecosystems to multiple and interacting pressures / stressors
  • optimising the sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems, including habitat restoration
  • cross-cutting skills:
    • modelling and handling of large data sets for use in environmental system analysis and linkage with ecosystem function and services at a variety of temporal and spatial scales
    • environmental legislation and water policy
    • fieldwork and data acquisition.

In addition to undertaking scientifically challenging research, students will gain specialist skills in these priority areas, be regularly brought together as a cohort to share ideas and skills, and also develop broader transferrable skills that can be applied across the environmental sciences and in their future careers.

Further information

Further information about this CDT can be found on the FRESH website, or by contacting the NERC Talent and Skills Team at

All enquiries relating to student recruitment should be directed to the CDT.

Last updated: 28 June 2022

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