Our PhD programme

We pride ourselves in nurturing a stimulating research environment and have a track-record in hosting an international cohort of excellent PhD candidates. We provide a thought provocative research culture through cutting edge environmental legal scholarship that SCELG has developed across different thematic areas and a plurality of legal theories and methodologies.

As a PhD candidate you are an integral part of the SCELG community benefitting directly from our supportive and collaborative research culture. We organise tailored events for our PhD community, such as, the annual PhD Colloquium on environmental law and governance, seminars where you can discuss work in progress with your peers, writing and academic coaching retreats, and reading groups.

You also have access to legal research methods training and skills development organised by the law school or the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences or the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities. Uniquely, as a member of the Humanities and Social Science (HASS) Graduate School you can interact and learn from your peers in other disciplines, and we encourage cross-disciplinary activities and collaboration.

SCELG hosts a thriving PhD community and through our extensive alumni network across academia, international institutions, NGOs, and advocacy groups you are part of a growing community of progressive scholars who are making a difference on the ground through their research.

As SCELG has a track-record of hosting funded academic research and consultancy projects, you also have the unique opportunity to bring about change and provide impact with your research across different areas of global environmental law which include ocean and outer space governance, Rights of Nature, climate change, and biodiversity law.

Some of our PhD candidates’ research is funded by the UKRI, and we also offer the opportunity to apply for University or Faculty funding. the next generation of influential environmental lawyers and scholars. If you would like to have more information about PhD opportunities in SCELG, please contact Dr Saskia Vermeylen saskia.vermeylen@strath.ac.uk 

Our current PhD researchers

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.

Link to Julie's profile.

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.

Link to Stephanie's profile

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.

Link to Wanying's profile

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?

Link to Mitchell's profile.

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.

Link to Linda's profile.

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.

Link to Julia's profile.

Edna’s research explores the legal framework of third sector laws, policies and practices within the scope of authority, accountability, participation and funding measures in combating climate change and environmental degradation.  Achieving sustainable development is a global agenda which calls for action on the part of various actors.  Answering the question of who in the third sector has the power to do what, with what means, where, how and answerable to whom is the focus of this research. Using comparative legal approaches, Edna’s research examines national laws starting with Scotland and Ghana, international laws and policies, legal cases, as well as NGO policies and actions. This is done  with the aim of creating a map of current third sector legal regimes,  Environmental Trust Funds and access in order to highlight the scope of ‘permitted’ public  participation inputs in achieving sustainable Development.

Link to Edna's profile.

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.

Link to Chitzi's profile.

Our past PhD researchers

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.

Link to Ronald's profile

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.

Link to Graham's profile.

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.

Link to Miranda's profile

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.

Link to Kathryn's profile.

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.

Link to Mika's profile.

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.

Link to Mara's profile

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.

Link to Willem's profile.

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.

Link to Iyan's profile.

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

Link to Renee's profile

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.

Link to Eloamaka's profile

Supported by the Campbell Burns Scholarship, Jingjing's PhD research looked at the relationship between the WTO Agreements and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety from a norm conflict perspective. It considered how general rules on conflicts of norms in international law relate to the relationship between international trade and environment law and the international regulation of trade in GMOs. Jingjing's main research areas include WTO Law, Public International Law and International Environmental Law.
Jingjing is currently working as a Lecturer in International Law in the Law School, Nankai University, China.