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Find a PhD at SAMS

UHI SUPER DTP PhD studentship

Organism and ecological impacts of electrofishing in Scottish shallow coastal habitats

Over the last decade, electrofishing has developed in shallow marine coastal sites around Scotland. The principal targets are two species of razor clam (Ensis siliqua and Ensis magnus). These shellfish command high prices in the Far East which has driven a fishery that has increased substantially since the mid-1990s reaching a value of around £3 million per annum and extracting 400-500 tonnes of razors per annum. Electrofishing is preferred by the fishers because it produces a cleaner and hence more valuable product compared with other harvest techniques, such as dredging. It is also claimed that electrofishing is more benign from an environmental view but there is limited scientific evidence to support this. Some research has been conducted on the short-term impacts of electrofishing on razor clams and other non-target benthic organisms. These studies suggested that impacts are limited with razor clams being observed to rebury a few minutes after the electrical field has passed. Non-target organisms such as juvenile flatfish, starfish and crabs were either temporarily stunned or apparently unaffected. On the other hand there is anecdotal evidence that electrofished razor clams do not ‘depurate’ as well as those harvested using other techniques. This suggests that electrofishing may affect the physiology of the clams in the short and possibly medium-term.

Find out more

Below are some ideas put forward by staff for students who want to self-fund a PhD project:

  • >The genetic stabilit of microalgal strains used in biofuel production (Dr Michele Stanley)
  • >Modelling the hydrodynamics of large scale macroalgae cultivation (Dr Michele Stanley)
  • >Oyster culture in Scotland (Drs Adam Hughes and Michele Stanley)
  • >The war of the marine worlds: Do pathogens contribute to the resilience of marine ecosystems against biological invasions? (Dr Claire Gachon)
  • >Genomics of algal defenses against their pathogens (Dr Claire Gachon)
  • >The evolution of pathogenicity among oomycetes: a comparative genomics approach (Dr Claire Gachon)
  • >Implications of large offshore renewables arrays for fisheries (Dr Clive Fox)
  • >Prey selection by gadoid larvae (Dr Clive Fox)
  • >Behaviour of the marine predatory copepod Euchaeta norvegica (Dr Clive Fox)
  • >Reproductive behaviour of a southern copepod in the changing environment of the west of Scotland (Dr Clive Fox)
  • >Feeding preferences of Nephrops larvae (Dr Clive Fox)
  • >Dispersal of early life stages of flatfish on the west of Scotland (Dr Clive Fox and Professor Michael Burrows)
  • >Fine scale passive acoustic tracking of harbour porpoises: investigation of echolocation behaviour and practical applications (Professor Ben Wilson)
  • >Arctic wide zooplankton migration behaviour (Professor Finlo Cottier and Dr Kim Last)
  • >Developing a fjord box model for high latitudes (Professor Mark Inall and Profesor Finlo Cottier)
  • >How does vertical mixing influence ocean-glacier interactions? (Professor Mark Inall and Professor Finlo Cottier) 

Many PhDs come with full studentships, which cover fees and living expenses, so that students can focus on their research and be expected to complete their studies in 3 or 3.5 years.

Self-funded students will require to have IRO £14,500 per year for living expenses to be in line with RCUK doctoral stipends on top of the fees.

For UHI PhD projects, click here for the current fees.

Most of our PhD projects are registered through the University of the Highlands and Islands, and this page outlines the application procedure for UHI PhDs. Please note that we have several other doctoral training partnerships - most notably with the University of Edinburgh, and applications to these programmes follow procedures by other universities. Information regarding these can be found on the individual project adverts.

We adhere strictly to equality and diversity policies during all phases of recruitment so that we find the most talented and motivated students to join us.


To be eligible to study for a PhD at SAMS UHI, who need to possess - in a relevant discipline and from a reputable institution:

  • A Master's qualification and / or
  • A Bachelor degree with first class or upper second class honours and / or
  • Another qualification or substantial experience that demonstrates your academic competence to complete doctoral training successfully (to be approved by the UHI Research Degrees Committee on the recommendation of the SAMS Director).
  • Additionally, international students whose first language is not English and who do not hold a prior degree obtained in English must hold an IELTS qualification with a score of 6.5 (6+ in writing), gained within two years prior to your registration date.

How to Apply for the SUPER DTP project currently on offer:

  • Organism and ecological impacts of electrofishing in Scottish shallow coastal habitats.

The documents you need to apply for one of our SUPER DTP studentships are as follows:

Super DTP PGR Reference form - Nov 2019

Super DTP Application form - 20-21

Please ensure you submit the application form – with the following supporting documentation – as one single pdf file - to gradresearch@uhi.ac.uk

  • Copies of all official qualification certificates and transcripts. If your official certificates/transcripts are not in English, they must be accompanied by a full certified translation provided by a professional translator/translation company.
  • If English is not your native language, an English language test certificate (IELTS or equivalent), gained within the past two years;
  • If you are not a UK national, a copy of the photo page of your passport. Also include any pages which indicate a right of abode in the UK;
  • 2 academic references. If references are not available at the time of submission, they can be excluded from the single pdf file, however applicants are responsible for ensuring their referees submit the references to gradreserach@uhi.ac.uk by the deadline.
  • If you wish to apply for more than one project, please submit separate applications.

Most PhD students will want to meet their potential supervisors to discuss the project, their personal suitability and to ascertain that they will be able to work together for a prolonged period of time.

For administrative issues, your first and main point of contact is the postgraduate registry officer, Anna Kane:

E: PhD@sams.ac.uk T: +44 (0) 1631 559 000 (reception)
T: +44 (0) 1631 559 427 (direct)

The SAMS graduate school is convened by marine deep-sea ecologist, Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy:

E: Bhavani.Narayanaswamy@sams.ac.uk T: +44 (0) 1631 559 305 (direct)