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PhD Studentship: Investigation of New and Emerging Pollutants and Microplastics Sources in Atmosphere and Their Toxicological Effects

Coventry University - Institute for Sustainability, Equity and Resilience, CAWR

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Coventry
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,000 p.a. + university fees
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th September 2021
Closes: 25th October 2021

This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. The successful applicant will spend the 1st year at Coventry University and the following year at Deakin University and then the final 1.5 years at Coventry University. Full fees covered for three years (UK, EU and international). Stipend at £15,000 p.a. (approximate bursary equivalent Australia dollars $27596) for three (max 3.5) years.

Studentship description

There is a strong concern over growing number of allergies and premature deaths from poor air quality. Particulates are the most harmful form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs, blood streams and brain. These particulates are loaded with 1000s of organic chemicals, however, only a small fraction of particulates’ organic carbon is identified at molecular level (<20%). So-called new and emerging pollutants (NEPs) e.g. pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial chemicals, personal care products and microplastics have been relatively recently identified in aquatic and soil environments. Although NEPs is a term used for soil and aquatic environments, most of them have chemical properties enabling their easy transfer into atmosphere.

The project will investigate, NEPs (including microplastics) in atmospheric particulates. This will be done through analytical method development for measuring NEPs, field campaigns (near NEPs emission sources and at a background urban site), lab experiments to understand NEPs transfer mechanism from their sources and assessment of cytotoxicity and the inflammatory response in human bronchial epithelial cells cultured in vitro at air-liquid interface.

The project will utilise state-of-the arts analytical instruments including Orbitrap High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry coupled to Thermal Desorption and Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography, and Infrared Microscopy. 

Supervisors: Dr Ivan Kourtchev and Dr Svetlana Stevanovic 

Entry requirements

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme. 

This includes: 

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates).
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first-class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports.
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component). 
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.

For an overview of each University’s entry requirements please visit:  


How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the link below on the "Apply" tab:

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Please note that applications must be made to both Universities.

Closing date for applications: Monday 25 October 2021

Application enquiries:

For application enquiries, please contact Dr Ivan Kourtchev ( or Dr Svetlana Stevanovic

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