Chemistry: Fully Funded DTC PhD Studentship: Circular economy approaches to biological wastes in developing nations

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual stipend
  • 15 November 2017

Swansea University is a UK top 30 institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014), and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.
Project Supervisors:
Supervisor 1: Dr Ian Mabbett. Supervisor 2: Prof Kam Tang. Supervisor 3: Dr Aisling Devine
Closing date for applications:  15 November 2017
Start date:  January 2018
Project description:
This project is an exciting opportunity to explore how we can derive value from waste streams such as faecal sludge in developing nations. The project is aims to deliver impact in developing nations via development of transformative technologies for provision of water, sanitation and hygiene. The student will join a multi disciplinary team of chemists, biologists and engineers, part funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and will assess the viability of using processed sludge, usually ashes or biochars, as sources of biocrudes and as soil conditioners and fertilisers. 
The need for better sanitation in the developing world is clear. A third of the world‚Äôs population‚ÄĒ2.5 billion people‚ÄĒpractice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities, and the consequences can be devastating for human health as well as the environment. Even in urban areas, where household and communal toilets are more prevalent, over 2 billion people use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied or use other systems that discharge raw sewage into open drains or surface waters.¬†
Creating sanitation infrastructure and public services that work for everyone and that keep waste out of the environment is a major challenge. The toilets, sewers, and wastewater treatment systems used in the developed world require vast amounts of land, energy, and water, and they are expensive to build, maintain and operate. Existing alternatives that are less expensive are often unappealing because they do not kill disease-causing pathogens, have impractical designs, or retain odors and attract insects. 
By improving how we deal with human waste, we can save lives, improve child health, and ensure greater dignity, privacy, and personal safety, particularly for women and girls. Better sanitation also contributes to economic development, delivering up to $5 in social and economic benefits for every $1 invested through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and prevention of illness, disability, and early death.   
Solving the sanitation challenge in the developing world will require radical innovations that are deployable on a large scale. Innovation is especially needed in densely populated areas, where billions of people are only capturing and storing their waste, with no sustainable way to handle it once their on-site storage‚ÄĒsuch as a septic tank or latrine pit‚ÄĒfills up. Solutions will require improvements along the entire sanitation service chain, including waste containment (toilets), emptying (of pits and septic tanks), transportation (to sewage treatment facilities), waste treatment, and disposal/reuse.


Candidates must have a first, upper second class honours or a Masters degree (with Merit), in a relevant discipline.  Applicants with practical knowledge of environmental science, microbiology, chemical analysis, circular economy and bio chemical engineering are particularly welcomed. There may be some opportunity to travel to remote sites (such as South Africa).  
For candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (with 6.0 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our website for a list of acceptable English language tests. 
Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only.


Do you wish to become an international student next year?
Demonstrate your English skills with IELTS.


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual stipend of £14,553 (RCUK rate) for 3 years.


Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the stated deadline.
To apply for this studentship, please download the¬†research scholarship application formv2%20(8).pdf)¬†‚ÄĆand return it to the College of Science with the following:
  • Academic References ‚Äď all scholarship applications require two supporting references to be submitted. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as their references form a vital part of the evaluation process. Please either include these with your scholarship application or ask your referees to send them directly to¬†
  • Academic Transcripts and Degree Certificates ‚Äď academic transcripts and degree certificates must be submitted along with the scholarship application by the funding deadline. We will be using these to verify your academic qualifications.
  • A recent CV

Applicants should use the ‚ÄėSupplementary Personal Statement‚Äô section of the application form to explain why the award they are applying for particularly matches their skills and experience and how they would choose to develop the project.
Please email the documents to or post them to:
Recruitment and Marketing Team
College of Science
Wallace Building
Swansea University
Singleton Park
Swansea SA2 8PP
Informal enquiries before the deadline for formal applications are welcome by emailing Ian Mabbett -

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