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NERC Centre of Doctoral Training in Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use (ECORISC)

The ECORISC Centre for Doctoral Training will produce a generation of innovator scientists that can identify, understand and effectively manage the risks of chemicals.

NERC Centre of Doctoral Training in Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use (ECORISC)

By combining mechanistic understanding, theoretical advances and modelling approaches we'll contribute to the development of predictive risk assessment frameworks that will allow society to benefit from chemical use while ensuring protection of the natural environment, now and in the future.

ECORISC draws together a critical mass of internationally recognised scientists from the universities of York, Cardiff, Exeter, Lancaster, Sheffield, and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrolody (UKCEH) who are ranked among the best in the UK in Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Environmental Science. In recent years our institutions have a research focus on environmental sustainability, demonstrated by significant capital investments made in the environmental sciences area.


Key research themes include:

  • Detection, fate, transport and uptake of chemicals in the natural environment.
  • Development of mechanistic understanding of the integrative effects of chemicals on individuals.
  • Extrapolation of effects measured on individuals to impacts on populations and communities and the ecosystem services they provide.
  • Effects of chemical mixtures, including in combination with other environmental stressors.
  • Landscape-scale risk assessment across different spatial and temporal scales.
  • Translation of environmental risk science into practice.


Over the first two years of your ECORISC PhD programme you'll receive subject-specific training, delivered in collaboration with our partner organisations, in:

  • ecotoxicology
  • environmental chemistry
  • ecology
  • risk assessment
  • core skills required for an environmental specialist.
  • On successfully completion of the programme you'll secure phase 1 of the SETAC Certified Risk Assessor (CRA) qualification.
  • Yearly challenge events
    • 1st Year – Data challenge event
    • 2nd Year - Product-based risk assessment
    • 3rd Year - Science to policy event
    • Our final event will be delivered in collaboration with our policy partners such as Defra and JNCC. You'll take a ‘hot’ environmental topic and through role playing exercises you'll explore how best to translate the underlying science in the area to a policy outcome and communicate that outcome to a non-specialist audience. The challenge will end with a mock House of Commons Environmental Select Committee hearing.
  • Secondments and internships


We have up to 13 funded engineering PhD studentships available. Students should be of high academic calibre and merit.

Entry requirements

Open to EU, International (non-EU) and UK (home) students.

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all.


Core institutions

All ECORISC students will be based at one of the core ECORISC institutions:

  • University of York
  • University of Cardiff
  • University of Exeter
  • Lancaster University
  • The University of Sheffield


Our 28 partners are from research, industry, policy or third sector organisations will provide expertise in developing studentships, supervision, training, impact advisers, and internship opportunities:

Research institutes

  • Cefas
  • Fera

Regulatory and governmental organisations

  • Environment Agency
  • Defra
  • HSE
  • JNCC
  • SEPA
  • Chemical, pharmaceutical and pesticide companies
  • Agilent
  • Astrazeneca
  • Bayer
  • Corteva
  • GSK
  • Reckitt Benkiser
  • Syngenta
  • Shell
  • Water companies
  • South West Water
  • Welsh Water
  • Consultancies
  • CEA
  • Peter Fisk Associates
  • Ramboll
  • WCA
  • Wood

Contract research organisations

  • Smithers

Software companies

  • Simomics

Third sector organisations

  • Greenpeace
  • Rivers Trust
  • RSPB

Find out more

Please visit our CDT website for more details about the centre and how to apply.

For further information about the CDT studentships at Cardiff University please contact Professor Peter Kille.