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Research opportunities in the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography


The School specialises in the areas listed below. Visit the School research pages and School academic staff pages for further details.

Candidates seeking entry onto PhD and other research degrees are encouraged to present research proposals related to these areas of specialism.

Agricultural Systems, with specialisations in:

  • Sustainable Development
  • Agricultural Ecology
  • Trade-offs between output of land and the needs of local people
  • Relationship between systems of food production and ecology of plants and animals
  • Farm, forest and environmental valuation
  • Accounting and Appraisal
  • Physiology and agronomy of temperate and tropical cereals, root crops and oilseeds
  • Peri-urban farming systems

Agroforestry, with specialisations in:

  • Role of trees in the agricultural landscape
  • Formal representation of local ecological knowledge
  • Tree-crop-soil interactions
  • Autecology and domestication of indigenous tree species

Biodiversity Conservation, with specialisations in:

  • Impact and management of invasive species
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation science
  • Threatened species conservation

Environmental and Soil Science, with specialisations in:

  • Sustainable rural, peri-urban and urban environments
  • Climate change
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Plant Ecophysiology
  • Waste Management and Restoration

Forest Ecology and Management, with specialisations in:

  • Ecophysiology of the impact and tolerance of heavy metals
  • Plant Nutrition
  • Mycorrhizas in forest ecosystems
  • Impact of CO2
  • Forest Genetics and tree breeding
  • Forest inventory
  • Conservation and restoration of forest eco-systems

Renewable Materials with specialisations in:

  • Science of wood and plant fibres
  • Natural fibre reinforced composites
  • Use of plant-derived materials as chemical feedstocks
  • Wood ultrastructure and decay mechanisms
  • Chemical Modification
  • Preservation and flow
  • Composite Properties
  • Chemical Products from plants

Rivers and Catchments

People, Space and Place

Geospatial Analysis

Entry requirements

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.

Ask the IEC for assistance...

If you want advice or a general chat about what’s available contact the International Education Centre on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email

Fees & Scholarships

Please take a look at our Fees & Scholarships pages for details.

How to apply

Step 1 – Select your research topic

You have two options with regards the selection of your research topic;

Option 1

Prepare your Research Proposal, based on the research expertise at the School.

Option 2

Occasionally, the University advertises PhD Studentships. Studentships are funded / sponsored PhD placements which cover tuition fees and sometimes living costs, usually for a period of 3 years. They are offered for specific research projects. Studentships are advertised on the University website and Academic Schools’ websites and there is normally a deadline for submitting applications. The terms and conditions of Studentships vary and may become available at different times of the year.

If you are applying for a Studentship, enter the name of the studentship on the application form.

Step 2 – Prepare your documentation

You will need to gather the following documentation to present with your application:

  • Bachelor degree certificate and transcript
  • Masters degree certificate and transcript (if undertaken)
  • English language test certificate (if undertaken)
  • Academic reference / support letter
  • Confirmation of funding / sponsorship (if applicable)
  • Passport
  • Research Proposal (if you are NOT selecting a project from the Directory of PhD opportunities or applying for a Studentship). Click here for guidance about how to write a good research proposal.

Step 3 – Apply Online

International students have two options when applying;

Apply online

Option 1 – Apply online yourself

Option 2 – Apply online with the help of a recruitment agent

  • If you would like help in completing and managing your application you may seek help from one of our authorised representatives or agents. To see a list of our representatives for your country please visit the Country pages.

Application advice

Applications for research degrees differ substantially from applications for taught courses such as Masters degrees. Although the application form is the same, the way in which you approach your application can make all the difference.

Applying for a self-funded or externally-funded Research Degree

As with all of our courses, you can apply to fund yourself through a PhD/MPhil at Bangor, or you may already have sourced external funding (e.g. from your employer or government), and we warmly welcome all expressions of interest in so doing. However, rather than simply filling in an application form, there are a few steps that you can take in order that your application stands a greater chance of being successful.

All PhD/MPhil students require supervision from at least one academic member of staff at the University, and if you are considering a PhD/MPhil, you will already have a good idea of the specific area or theme that you want to research. In order to ascertain that we hold sufficient expertise in your chosen topic to provide supervision, you should first look at our staff pages. This will provide you with a breakdown of each staff member’s area of academic focus.

Once you have found a member of staff whose research interests broadly accord with your own, you should contact them directly with a concise research ‘brief’ that outlines your proposal and ask whether s/he would consider supervising your project. If the academic expresses his/her interest, you may then further discuss your ideas and develop a full PhD/MPhil research proposal.

At this stage, you should formally apply online for the PhD/MPhil programme. You should fill the form out thoroughly, including academic references, your research proposal and the name of the academic member of staff under whose supervision you intend the research to be conducted.

Your research proposal

A good research proposal is essential if you are applying for a PhD or MPhil. The proposal should include:

  1. Overview – give a brief abstract of the subject area you wish to research and include information on the key theoretical, policy or empirical debates that will be addressed.
  2. Planning – you need to demonstrate that you are aware of the research timescales and have a plan in place to conduct your work. You need to demonstrate that the research is manageable in the given time period.
  3. Literature references – you need to show that your planned area of research has not been studied before. Provide references to key articles and texts relevant to your area of study.
  4. Methodology – you need to show that you are aware of the methodological tools available and have identified which ones would be suitable for your research.

When do I Apply?

You can apply at any time of the year.

It is possible to start a PhD degree at any point in the year at most academic Schools, subject to agreement with the supervisor.

We advise that you submit your application in enough time to:

  • organise funding
  • undertake an English course
  • obtain documents such as transcripts and references required for meeting the conditions of the offer
  • apply for a visa
  • make accommodation arrangements

Further information

Admission related queries

If you need any assitance in completing your application, contact the International Admissions Team on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email

Research Case studies

East African Farmers Reap the Benefits of Crop Breeding Programme

East African Partners: Uganda Martyrs University (UMU), Uganda; Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), Kakamega, Kenya; and Kenyatta University (KU), Kenya.

Project Associates: Biosciences Eastern & Central Africa (BecA) and International Crops Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Principal Investigators: Prof. John Witcombe, Professorial Fellow; and Dr Katherine Steele, Lecturer in Sustainable Crop Production at the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography, Bangor University; email:

The CAPACITATE East Africa project (developing capacity for participatory and marker assisted plant breeding to mitigate low crop productivity and poor food security), was a three year project funded by the European Union African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Science and Technology Transfer Programme, led by UMU. The goal of the project was to improve the capacity of crop research in East Africa, producing farmer-acceptable crop varieties and therefore enhancing food security.

Final Project Meeting, Kenyatta University Conference Centre (KUCC), Nairobi, 27–28 July 2013

Poverty and food security are major concerns that affect millions of people in East Africa. At the beginning of the CAPACITATE project, agricultural research in the region was failing to translate into better crop yields for sustained food security, and farmers were struggling to adapt to climate change. This project aimed to tackle these issues by focusing on a proven approach: developing new crop varieties that provide greater scope for growers and end-users, and display drought and heat stress hardiness.

Previously, agricultural research in East Africa did not focus on crop varieties specifically adapted to the farmers’ needs. East African plant breeders were unfamiliar with new techniques in plant breeding such as Client-Oriented Breeding (COB), which have been shown by Bangor University researchers to be highly effective in accelerating variety development: increasing the uptake of new varieties by poor farmers in marginal environments.

The project successfully met its key aim: assisting farmers in adapting to climate change using COB methodologies to improve the yield, productivity and quality of their crops. By creating a network of researchers, breeders and farmers, research in this field is better co-ordinated; gaps in knowledge have been closed, and research publications have increased. Traditional barriers for farmers accessing current research have been removed; providing them with the knowledge they require to meet the challenges of water and heat stress on their crops; thus enhancing the uptake of modern varieties.

The impact of this project has resulted in both economic and societal benefits. An estimated 85 million smallholder farmers (a large proportion of whom are women), growing staple, high-value crops will profit from access to COB and a greater range of crop varieties exhibiting superior tolerance to disease and heat and water stress. The production of sustainable crops with more reliable yields will provide the farmers with better income security: alleviating poverty and poor nutrition.

A scientist from Uganda Martyrs University (right) discusses a bean variety trial with farmers in their field.

In addition to this, a ‘train the trainer’ programme was also conducted. Bangor University researchers held workshops on COB and Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) in Kenya and Uganda. This has resulted in at least one hundred students each year benefitting from the programme at East African Universities.

Postgraduate students from Uganda and Kenya attended a research training course in the UK; topics included studying the resistance of Phaseolus vulgaris (the common bean), to Pythium root rot; analysis of the genetic diversity in pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima), and their resistance to powdery mildew.

Douglas Jjemba and Dr Katherine Steele at the Bangor Henfaes Research Station, Bangor University.

Maryrose Kithinji working in the laboratory at Bangor University

Caroline Kambona, who completed her training in Bangor, March 2013 said, “I really appreciated the opportunity and thank my supervisors both in Kenya and at Bangor for being keen on me and helping me through the training as I did my masters project. I thank Dr. Katherine Steele for the opportunity to work in her Barley for food project and present part of it as my Master’s thesis in my graduating university (Kenyatta).”

Dr Katherine Steele said, “The project enabled researchers from four universities to meet, share ideas and work together for the first time. Some of the world’s most experienced crop scientists from the CGIAR Research Centres and Bangor University led training courses across the region. The training was put into practice through participatory trials in farmers’ fields. Everyone involved with the project has gained enthusiasm – as well as skills – to apply science in a way that can solve food security problems.”

For more information on crops and livestock research at Bangor University, please see:

Reclaiming & Transforming Degraded Land in Indonesia

Consortium Partners:
UK: Aberystwyth University
Indonesia: Universitas Andalas, Universitas Bangka Belitung, Universitas Brawijaya, Universitas Diponegoro, Universitas Lampung, Universitas Pattimura, Universitas Sam Ratulangi, Tropenbos Indonesia, PT Riset Perkebunan Nusantara, SEAMEO BIOTROP, PT Bukit Asam, and IPB.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Morag McDonald, Head of the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography, Bangor University; email:

Building on a significant background of strong collaboration with Indonesian institutions, Bangor University has been successful in securing a £10,000 grant from the British Council Indonesia to seed-fund research projects that will help return disused former mining sites into productive land. This project, in partnership with both Indonesian and UK Universities and commercial organisations aims to meet the many environmental challenges faced by Indonesia: including the improvement of soil and water quality, and the development of agroforestry techniques.

Over the last ten years, Indonesia has undergone rapid economic development. The growth of extractive industries; for example coal mining have significantly contributed to the economic development of the country. Environmental problems that can arise during, and particularly after mining has ceased can include soil and forest destruction, production of acid rock drainage, pollution of air, water and soil and the creation of harmful waste.

The principal goal of the consortium is to address these problems, and to develop and disseminate best-practice approaches that will benefit Indonesia and the region of South East Asia.

Initial outcomes include SENRGy staff (Professor Morag McDonald, Dr Paula Roberts and Dr Graham Bird), attending a workshop held at the Indonesian base of SEAMEO BIOTROP in Bogor, West Java in late March 2014. The workshop was preceded by a visit to the PT Bukit Asam coal mine at Tanjung Enim, a 6.4 billion tonne coal reserve in South Sumatra. The group were able to view some of environmental problems as well as the approaches taken by PT Bukit Asam to tackle these.

The Consortium Partners

(Back row, L-R) Dr Graham Bird (Bangor University), Dr Bill Perkins (Aberystwyth University).
(Middle row, L-R) Dr Rohny Maail (Universitas Pattimura), Dr Wilson Novarino (Universitas Andalas), Dr Melya Riniarti (Universitas Lampung), Dr Eva Utami (Universitas Bangka Belitung), Dr Tri Retnoningsih Soeprobowati (Universitas Diponegoro), Prof. David Arnold Kaligis (Universitas Sam Ratulangi), Dr Edi Purwanto (Tropenbos Indonesia), Dr Reiny A. Tumbol (Universitas Sam Ratulangi), Dr Gede Wibawa (PT Riset Perkebunan Nusantara), Dr Didik Suprayogo (Universitas Brawijaya), Prof. Jesus Fernandez (SEAMEOBIOTROP), Mr Paulus Wendi Saputra (PT Bukit Asam).
(Front row, L-R) Dr Paula Roberts (Bangor University), Ms Meinanada Chudahman (British Council), Prof. Iskander Siregar) (IPB), Prof. Morag McDonald (Bangor University), Dr. Bambang Purwantara (SEAMEO BIOTROP), Mr. Muhammad Bagir (PT Bukit Asam), Dr Irdika Mansur (SEAMEO BIOTROP).

Prof. Morag McDonald noted that, “we’re delighted to be leading this research in collaboration with colleagues in Indonesia and the UK. The partnership gives us an opportunity to develop and share our expertise in the study, and reclamation of former industrial landscapes developed in the UK and Europe. Working with colleagues in Indonesia provides a fantastic opportunity to address the challenges posed to pollution and reclamation by tropical climates.”

For more information on forestry and agroforestry research at Bangor University please see:

Visit to the PT Bukit Asam Coal Mine at Tanjung Enim