PhD Research Studentship – CoCoMar

PhD Research Studentship, Reconciling regulatory requirements with restoration requirements under the EU Nature Restoration Regulation and Environmental Liability Directive

Job Posted: 26 Jan 2024

Closing Date for Applications: 23 Feb 2024

School: School of Law and MaREI Centre, Environmental Research Institute

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time

Job Type: Research

Salary: see advert for stipend details

PhD Research Studentship

The School of Law and MaREI: the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, is delighted to announce a PhD studentship funded by the Marine Institute as part of the interdisciplinary research project “Co-existence and Co-location in shared island Marine governance” (CoCoMar). The successful candidate will research the topic of “Reconciling regulatory requirements with restoration requirements under the EU Nature Restoration Regulation and Environmental Liability Directive”.

CoCoMar Research Project

The “Co-existence and Co-location in shared island Marine governance” (CoCoMar) Project is a collaboration between University College Cork and Queen’s University Belfast, with scientific input from the Marine Institute, Galway. The aim of CoCoMar is to enable co-existence and co-location as mechanisms to deliver more integrated marine governance in the shared waters around the island of Ireland, informed by EU and UK policy ambitions relating to the four themes of (i) fisheries management post-Brexit; (ii) cross-compliance of policies for sectoral activities managed under Maritime Spatial Planning; (iii) expanding MPA networks; and (iv) delivering nature restorationThis doctoral research project will sit under the work relating to (iv) delivering nature restoration. The proposal should demonstrate an understanding of the existing and proposed requirements associated with marine and coastal restoration in Ireland and the European Union (WFD, MSFD, Floods Directive, nature conservation Directives, new Nature Restoration Regulation and Environmental Liability Directive (ELD). Restoration is a process intended to assist the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed, for example, through rewetting wetlands, improving degraded marine habitats, removing invasive species, removing obsolete barriers, etc. In November 2023, the EU institutions adopted a proposal for a new Nature Restoration Law which will set legally binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems and bring nature back to Europe. This proposes restoration of at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and repair of all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. Despite the opposition of certain economic sectors to this legislative initiative, its requirements do not exclude economic activity and offer further opportunities for sectors to co-exist with restoration measures, linking to other work areas in the CoCoMar project.

The project will determine if and how restoration actions can comply with the European Commission’s guidelines providing a common understanding of the term ‘environmental damage’ in the Nature Restoration Regulation and ELD and how this might operate in the marine environment, including the powers and duties of public authorities, which are tasked with determining and assessing the extent of environmental damage and the preventive or remediation measures to be taken. This may involve interrogation of terms such as, rehabilitation, recovery, remediation, repair, offsetting, compensation, active and passive measures, which can have different meanings and impact upon how they transfer into coastal and marine contexts, to provide clarity on how they might assist delivery of the restoration spectrum by the public authorities, which are tasked with determining and assessing the extent of environmental damage and the preventive or remediation measures to be taken.

It is anticipated that the proposal should address some or all of the following questions:

  • What are the key legal and policy considerations which need to be taken into account in restoring coastal and marine habitats in Ireland, in light of existing and emerging EU law and policy requirements?
  • What opportunities for consistency, coherence and synergies exist between the various legislative instruments in the regulatory framework?
  • How could legal and policy frameworks at the national and intergovernmental levels be better aligned across borders, north and south, with particular regard to other marine uses and designation of marine protected areas?

Supervisors: Prof Owen McIntyre (School of Law) and Dr Anne Marie O’Hagan (MaREI, ERI)

What the Studentship will cover

  • The funded PhD studentship covers a student stipend (€25,000 per annum) and college/tuition fees (max €6,000 per annum) are eligible for four years.
  • The researcher will have standard access to facilities available in the School of Law and in MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine in University College Cork and is expected to interact with the Marine Institute, Galway.

Duration: 48 months


  • General information can be found at
  • Study can only be undertaken on a full-time basis.
  • Qualifications:
    • Candidates should have a first class honours undergraduate degree (or equivalent), or a high 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) supplemented by outstanding subsequent academic or professional accomplishments.
    • Candidates should have either a Master’s degree or extensive and relevant professional experience.
    • Some experience of teaching, publication or other research-related activities is desirable.

School of Law, UCC

The School of Law in UCC currently has eight members of academic staff whose primary research interests focus on aspects of environmental, marine, climate, energy and natural resources law. The Centre for Law and the Environment (CLE) provides a collaborative “ecosystem” to support research activity. The Law School provides taught Masters programmes in Marine and Maritime Law and in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. The former is the only course of its kind in Ireland and has input from practising lawyers and barristers as well as from MaREI staff. It focuses on marine law, maritime law, maritime security and port law and provides an environment where students engage with the best legal experts in Ireland in the areas of marine environmental protection; maritime security and law enforcement at sea; offshore renewable energy; and port and shipping activities. It combines theoretical and practical learning, notably through a clinical module on Law of the Sea, with access to the Irish Naval Service, its staff and vessels. The School of Law has Ireland’s largest PhD programme, with particular strength in doctoral research in Environmental Law and with dedicated facilities and individual supervision to ensure that the next generation of academics receive the best possible training and support.

MaREI/ERI Background

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 13 other Universities and Third Level Institutes from across Ireland, has 50 industrial partners and has accumulated 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 Offshore Energy Technologies, Materials & Structures, Observations & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling and Renewable Energy Management. This PhD student will sit within the Coastal & Marine Systems research area.

Further information

Contact Professor Owen McIntyre (ei.ccu@erytnicm.o)

To Apply

Applicants should provide an up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV) with two references and a short outline of their research plan.

Applications can be emailed to Grainne Lynch (ei.ccu@hcnyl.enniarg) with “CoCoMar PhD”) in the subject line.

The closing date for applications is Friday 23rd February 2024 at 12:00 noon.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed (online) at a time and date to be arranged. Candidates will be notified of the outcome of their application shortly afterwards.