Biosciences: European Research Council Funded PhD Studentship: Developing new methodologies for quantifying flight costs

Closing date: 26 January 2018

Key Information

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Swansea University/European Research Council PhD Scholarship 2018/2019

Project Supervisors

Start date:  October 2018 or January 2019

Flight is thought to be one of the most energetically demanding activities that birds can perform. However, our understanding of the scale of these costs comes from mask respirometry, and little is known about how these measurements are affected by the mask itself. The primary aims of this project are to: (1) develop and validate a new method for quantifying the metabolic costs of flight for birds flying in a wind tunnel, (2) compare this to existing methodologies, and (3) use this to provide new insight into the costs of flight for a range of species. There is a real need for baseline measurements of flight costs, as they feed into models that underpin our understanding of how birds may respond to scenarios of global change and development. A new, large-scale tunnel is being designed and constructed at Swansea University especially for this project, which will enable birds as large as gulls to be flown in a controlled environment. The results will be combined with biotelemetry data to quantify how power use varies in relation to weather and behaviour. 

The post would suit a student with interests in physiology, locomotion and/ or morphology who enjoys practical experimental work. The student will receive training in a wide range of research skills, including the collection and analysis of respirometry data and working with birds. The student will be part of a dynamic, interdisciplinary research group based at Swansea University (Swansea Laboratory for Animal Movement) and will work closely with a team funded by an ERC grant.  


Candidates must have a first, upper second class honours, or Master's degree in a relevant discipline.

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. 


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, an annual stipend of £14,553 and research costs for 3.5 years. The studentship is funded by an ERC starting grant.

How to Apply

To apply for this studentship, please download the  College of Science PGR Scholarship Application and return it to the College of Science with the following:

  • Academic References – 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 – 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.
  • CV – please include a recent CV

Applicants should use the ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ section of the application form to explain why the award they are applying for particularly matches their interests, skills and experience.

Informal enquiries before the deadline for formal applications are welcome by emailing or 

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