PhD Research Position: Change in Coastal and Marine systems: using the Ecosystem Based Approach in regulatory environments to underpin the Blue Economy

Closing Date for Applications: 27th November 2020

University: University College Cork

Research Centre: MaREI, the SFI Centre for Climate, Energy and Marine

School: Law

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time
Job Type: Research
Salary: €18,500 stipend per annum. Fees and research related travel are covered by the grant.

Duration and Start Date: 4 years – Jan 2021



Both the EU’s Maritime Spatial Planning and Marine Strategy Framework Directives mandate an ecosystem-based approach yet there is little clarity on what that looks likes in practice across established and emerging marine and coastal sectors. The objective of this project is to progress the ecosystem approach from concept to practice, determining how it is currently manifested, what regulatory interventions may further enable or constrain its implementation and culminating in developing a framework for how its effectiveness can be evaluated.

  • Determine how the ecosystem approach is incorporated into Irish marine law and policy.
  • Review and critique current law, policy and regulatory approaches applicable to (selected) Blue Economy sectors in Ireland.
  • Understand and document enabling and constraining conditions to implementing the ecosystem approach into the Irish MSP process.
  • Determine the evolution required in the national regulatory environment to facilitate the implementation of these enabling conditions for implementation at local and regional scale.
  • Develop a monitoring and evaluation framework that could assess the implementation status and efficacy of marine and coastal ecosystem-based management.


  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) degree (or equivalent).
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject matter.
  • Sound understanding of the subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal.
  • Demonstrable capability of working within a project team.
  • Good communication, organisation and interpersonal skills.
  • Excellent academic English writing skills.
  • Experiencing of conducting research on environmental or marine law, policy or governance.

To Apply

Please send the below documents by email to:

  • Jeremy Gault, MaREI Research Co-ordinator – Coastal and Marine Systems, MaREI Centre, Environmental Research Institute, UCC – ei.ccu@tluag.j

(1) Your C.V. (Please include details of your Masters and Undergraduate theses, if appropriate)

(2) Cover letter including a 200-word motivation statement as to how you are best suited to this PhD position

For informal enquiries on the post candidates should contact:

MaREI Centre

MaREI is a key research centre within UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is an internationally recognised Institute for environmental research dedicated to the understanding and protection of our natural environment and to developing innovative technologies, tools and services to facilitate a transformation to a zero carbon and resource efficient society. The MaREI Centre is an SFI funded research centre headquartered in the ERI and includes 11 other Universities and Third Level Institutes from across Ireland, has 50 industrial partners and has research funding of approximately €60m. It combines the expertise of a wide range of research groups and industry partners, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical and socio-economic challenges across the climate, energy and marine spaces.  MaREI is also funded by SEAI, EI, EPA, ERDF, EU, HEA, Marine Institute, DCCAE and IRC, as well as through contributions from our industry partners. Researchers in the MaREI Centre have over 30 years of experience in conducting fundamental and applied research supported by competitively won national and international funding, and commercial contracts with government agencies and industry. MaREI’s strengths lie in the multi-disciplinary nature of its research teams, allowing it to combine insights across areas such as MRE Technologies, Materials & Structures, Observations & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling and Renewable Energy Management

School of Law

The School of Law in UCC currently has a significant number of academic staff whose primary research focuses on aspects of environmental, planning, marine, climate, energy, natural resources, and disaster law. In addition, several further academic staff pursue research interests in related fields, including corporate governance, human rights and public order, which impact upon key related issues in environmental management. There are currently seven Ph.D. students engaged in research in this general area and three postdoctoral researchers. The recently established Centre for Law and the Environment (CLE) provides a collaborative “ecosystem” to support suitably ambitious research activity. 2016 saw the introduction by the Law School of two new taught LL.M. programmes in the field: the LL.M. (Marine & Maritime Law) and the LL.M. (Environmental & Natural Resources Law). The School of Law has Ireland’s largest PhD programme in law, with several research students supervised jointly by the School of Law and MaREI, combining legal theory and principle with practical experience on critical research capturing legal frameworks, governance dynamics, scientific input, and intended ultimately to ensure more effective and efficient planning and management of Ireland’s terrestrial and marine environment and its natural resources.