Our PhD programme
If you think doing a PhD is a lonely exercise in which you are locked in a library, think twice. While PhD researchers at the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance work on their independent piece of research, they're also directly involved in the life of the Centre. They often collaborate with SCELG staff members on funded projects and may, at times, have the opportunity to contribute to consultancies with external partners. This gives our PhD researchers a unique practical experience throughout their doctoral studies.
Find out about the specific experiences of our current PhD students in PhD Stories, a series of reports and updates from the cohort.
If you're interested in undertaking research in a cutting edge field of global environmental law and governance, a PhD at SCELG may well be what you were looking for.
Our current PhD researchers
Nicola's research focuses on the role of law in the environmental protection of Scottish Islands, with a specific emphasis on the Islands (Scotland) Bill 2018. As part of this research she will evaluate the extent to which legal and policy options available to island communities enable them to promote the environmental integrity of their islands. Nicola originally joined the university of Strathclyde in 2010 as an undergraduate student on her LLB, where she obtained a first class honours. She joined SCELG in September 2014 as a student on the LLM in Climate Change Law and Policy, which she completed with distinction.
My PhD research aims to investigate the role of EU law in supporting and realising a move in Europe towards an agricultural model that is based upon agro-ecological values. It will thus seek to answer how the ‘ecosystem approach’ could be applied in EU law regarding the production of crops, including the Common Agricultural Policy, environmental laws relevant to agriculture, risk regulations and certification schemes, with the objective of developing a holistic regulatory framework.
Julie’s research explores the relationship between transboundary water law and development cooperation, examining the extent to which frameworks used across both sectors align. Her research conducts an examination of the discourses and frames used, seeking to gain an understanding of their origin and subsequent application. The focus of her work questions whether fewer ‘frames’ and stronger emphasis on the implementation of legal principles could enable a more unified, and therefore more effective, approach to transboundary water governance within development cooperation. Specifically, her research focuses on transboundary river basins within a Southern African context and draws upon both past and current development projects.
Graham’s research focuses on the relationship between human rights and marine biodiversity. Despite increasing global recognition of the intrinsic practical relationship between the two and the benefits humans derive from a healthy marine environment, legal frameworks governing the fields have largely developed in isolation with little done at an operational, legal or academic level towards alignment. Through his research, Graham seeks to investigate ways in which existing international legal instruments may be interpreted and applied to mutually support human health and marine biodiversity.
I commenced my PhD in law at the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance in January 2015, researching the topic of transboundary aquifer law and policy. My research examines how attention to the concept of water justice can help assess and inform the international legal and policy framework for transboundary aquifer governance. My research is supervised by Dr Francesco Sindico, and my main research areas include public international law, international environmental law, international water law and environmental justice.
International hazardous waste trading from developed states to developing states expanded from the 1980s and this caused various environmental harms in developing states. The international community adopted the Basel Convention in 1989, which seeks to regulate transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. The Convention which is based upon the concepts of prior informed consent and environmentally sound management is dependent on national enforcement for its effectiveness. This research seeks to analyse, first, whether the terms of the Basel Convention are sufficiently clear and certain to enable effective enforcement and, second, how effective national enforcement actually is in practice in the UK and China. It will provide recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of enforcement in order to better secure compliance with the international regime and national regime and whether that in turn will contribute (positively) to sustainable development.
The ultimate objective of the research is to make a case for the development of a single global multilateral legal instrument to deal with energy issues with an all-encompassing and comprehensive approach that takes into account the emergence of climate change mitigation as a central energy policy issue and the need for a global shift to sustainable energy sources; provoke global action towards the development of the said legal instrument; contribute to a body of international energy law and its architecture; and to address the gap currently existing in scholarly research in terms of addressing the energy-climate change nexus from the international energy law perspective.
It is now widely accepted that energy production and consumption related CO2 emissions are the most significant contributors to global climate change and that a shift to more sustainable energy resources is a key component of effective climate change mitigation. Against this background, my research topic is “The role of International energy law in climate change mitigation and sustainable energy development: The case for a comprehensive global multilateral legal framework for energy”.
My research will examine the extent to which current international energy law is positioned to address the energy-climate nexus, facilitate a global shift to sustainable energy sources and ultimately contribute to climate change mitigation and sustainable development. It will seek to establish that international energy law has an important role to play in global climate change mitigation and the achievement of sustainable development although it is essential to strengthen and make it more relevant to emerging issues.
Mitchell’s PhD looks at the issue of fisheries redistribution under climate change. Scientific surveys and fisheries mathematical models tell us ocean warming and acidification is shifting the distribution of many fish species poleward, or into deeper waters. An issue with this phenomenon is that fisheries distribution is often assumed as fixed around a historical average. Redistribution could lead to disputes between States who share stocks, with consequences for food security and development. In the North Atlantic, this is a huge legislative challenge from a European, UK and Scottish perspective, with Brexit adding further complexity. Mitchell’s overarching question is: How can international, regional, national, and subnational fisheries legislation be integrated with mathematics to be resilient and adaptable to the effects of climate change on marine species, to maintain sustainable exploitation of fish stocks, and avoid disputes between States?
Linda’s research examines the recognition of customary and informal laws in formalising artisanal and small-scale gold mining towards sustainability. Linda gathers motivation from her lived experience growing up in Ghana’s largest gold mining town and her previous research on Ghana’s mining regime to ascertain the legal transitions towards achieving a thriving and sustainable artisanal and small-scale mining. Linda employs an interdisciplinary approach that involves a socio-legal anthropology, doctrinal and comparative approaches in exploring the tensions and complexities in the artisanal and small-scale mining regime. Linda’s research questions the spaces given to cultural rights and customary law under international law on mining governance and proceeds to examine how customary law can be mobilised in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of poor and vulnerable communities dependent on artisanal and small-scale mining.
Kate’s research focuses on how conflict resolution models can be used to overcome barriers for vulnerable populations to participate in ocean governance development. Vulnerable communities, women and children in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change, overexploitation, and pollution on the oceans. Through her research, Kate seeks to investigate the role of dispute resolution mechanisms to support the empowerment of vulnerable communities, women and children, including traditional knowledge and indigenous peace-making approaches, to contribute to management practices and decision-making on ocean conservation, sustainable use of marine resources and the blue economy.
Julia's PhD research aims to investigate how international law, with particular attention to certain special regimes, including law of the sea, trade law and human rights law, can contribute to promote sustainability in marine fisheries and, in particular, combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in small-scale fisheries. This research seeks to clarify the implementation of international law in the integrated realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a view to empower fishing communities, promote the responsible management of fisheries resources and ensure the appropriate distribution and fair benefit-sharing of local fisheries products in regional and international markets.
Mara's research seeks to elucidate the potential contribution of procedural environmental rights — and in particular of access to justice — to the resolution of the “user vs. environment” conflicts that are likely to arise following the drawing up and implementation of integrated, multi-scalar marine spatial planning initiatives under European Law. In order to determine which rights and interests are “actionable” under the applicable legal framework, Mara’s research will explore different notions of ownership, highlighting the nuances that differentiate marine spatial planning from its terrestrial counterpart. Ultimately, her thesis will contemplate the role of access to justice as a “human dimension criterion" for the operationalisation of the ecosystem approach in the marine context.
Willem’s PhD project is focusing on how the Namibian Constitution, International Law and Comparative Law have shaped the Namibian land reform policy and legislative framework since the country became independent from South Africa in 1990. Willem is particularly interested the debates about transitional justice and how the Namibian Constituent Assembly negotiations have set the groundwork to decolonise law.
Iyan’s research focuses upon Global Animal Law, International Trade Law, and critical approaches to anthropocentrism in law. These approaches centre upon global governance based on concepts of wild law, earth jurisprudence, and animal rights. Iyan’s research hypothesises that international trade negatively impacts upon animal welfare in a way that is not rectifiable by international trade law. Iyan posits Global Animal Law as a potential alternative or counterforce to international trade law, capable of remedying the negative impact of trade on animal welfare.
Chitzi’s research investigates the role of international law in promoting energy justice in relation to the development and deployment of renewable energy. It is widely acknowledged that renewable energy has the potential to combat climate change, whilst providing electricity, heating, and clean cooking fuel, to parts of the world without access. However, the rate of deployment of renewable energy across the world has been patchy, in addition to raising questions of justice and equity, all of which require significant regulatory intervention.
Mika's PhD research explores the normative dimensions of international biodiversity law, focusing on the participatory processes involving local stakeholders, in particular Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, within international law-making and other legal forums. The main focus of her work looks at these processes from the perspective of ethics and spatial justice, addressing whether and how these enable an interrogation and reimagining of global conservation endeavours by accommodating and embracing local perspectives and experiences. Within this project, she is also exploring linkages with rights to land, culture and cultural expression, and self-determination.
My PhD research focusses on the under-utisation of the of the WTO Disputes Settlement Understanding (DSU) by LDCs. As well as understanding the causal reasons why Least Developed Countries (LDCs) do not use the system it will focus on some potential changes that could be made to the DSU which would encourage LDCs to interact more proactively with the WTO DSU in particular and the WTO in general. WTO disputes can arise in a multiplicity of diverse subject areas many of which have a bearing, either directly or indirectly, to wider aspects of International Environmental Law and thus the non-participation of LDCs represent what one writer described as "an open sore" in the DSU, a system which is regarded as the jewel in the crown of the WTO.
Our past PhD researchers
This PhD project aims at examining the application of the Precautionary Principle and EIA in tackling environmental injustice in the Niger Delta Region. Institutional theory besides PP and EIA will be used in achieving this project because the external environment in which these laws operate influences the struggle against environmental injustice in Nigeria
Dr Uzuazo Etemire is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He holds the LLB (Benin), LLM (Nottingham) and PhD in Law (Strathclyde) degrees. His PhD studies at the University of Strathclyde was generally on procedural environmental law and was completed in 2014. Particularly, Etemire’s PhD thesis assessed and proposed reforms, where necessary, to Nigerian law and practice on public access to information, decision-making processes and (to a limited extent) justice in environmental matters. This analysis and law- and practice-reform exercise was mainly anchored on an innovatively designed body of international best practice – majorly using the Aarhus Convention, amongst others – located within the relevant theoretical framework and immersed in its socio-political context to add meaning to the enterprise. His PhD work formed the basis for his book: Law and Practice on Public Participation in Environmental Matters: The Nigerian Example in Transnational Comparative Perspective (London and New York: Routledge, 2015). And apart from being called to the Nigerian Bar, Dr Etemire is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, United Kingdom, and an Alumnus of The Hague Academy of International Law, The Netherlands. He is also well published in renowned peer-review journals in the field of environmental law and governance.
Tinashe Madebwe joined the Strathclyde Law School as a PhD candidate in January 2008 and completed his studies in 2012.
His research (Thesis entitled 'A Framework for Achieving Consistently Effective Environmental Protection') was supported by the Campbell Burns Scholarship and subsequently the University Scholarship, and was supervised by Professor Mark Poustie. Madedwe's work focused on improvements to the regulation of environmental protection through a regulatory framework based on tenets of constitutionalism.
From 2012 to 2016 he served as a part-time lecturer in the Public Law Department of the Midlands State University in his hometown of Gweru, Zimbabwe. His present research interests lie in facilitating greater public participation in the governance of environmental protection on a global level.
Renee Martin-Nagle, J.D., LL.M., focuses her research on both the governance and the hydrogeology of transboundary aquifers, with particular concern for ecosystem protection and interspecies equity. Her PhD thesis will examine and propose possible governance regimes for transboundary offshore freshwater resources such as offshore aquifers and methane hydrates
My research investigates the current environmental situation in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, focusing on the effect of oil exploration activities and its resulting consequences. It examines current environmental pollution laws, enforcement powers of the enforcement agencies and impediments to enforcement, the role of the court and limitations to access to environmental justice. It will emphasise accountability and the available remedies. The set objective is to find working principles that may be used to ensure institutional accountability for the reduction of environmental injustice in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria.
China is currently working on a Ph.D. examining the influence of the involvement of the non-commercial research sector on the development of the current ABS Regime? This involves a focus on lessons learnt from research agreements between provider countries and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew