Environment and Health PhD
MPhil option available
This course has an MPhil option
PhD student loans
The UK Government has recently introduced PhD loans of up to £25000 to UK and EU nationals, residing in England, for postgraduate research programmes starting in the academic year 2018-19. Read more here.
About the course
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.
Environmental factors influence our health and wellbeing, as well as affect ecosystems and wildlife. An intimate understanding of such factors – chemical substances, for example, or changes in radiation or temperature – is urgently needed to better understand disease trends in humans and adverse effects on wildlife. Our research in the area of environment and health provides the foundations necessary to pinpoint preventable causes of ill-health and adversity and to underpin development of evidence-based primary prevention policies. A second important focus for our research is to understand the impacts of human civilisation on Earth's natural systems and the ecosystem services that support us. We are developing technologies and approaches to prevent and remedy pollution as well as to renew and restore degraded ecosystems.
The Environment and Health theme is one of the largest in the Institute of Environment, Health and Societies (IEHS); there are now more than 50 theme members whose research focuses on five areas:
- Biological Pathways and Systems
- Environmental Health and Ecosystems
- Environmental Change
- Environmental Solutions
- Environmental Policy and Communication
While we welcome all multidisciplinary topics in the area of Environment and Health here is a list of potential research areas we would like to supervise. For details of these and other potential topics please visit our Doctoral Opportunities webpage.
- Development of a novel assay for testing androgens and anti-androgens in fish.
- Degradation and Transformation of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
- Development of a novel model to quantify nitrous oxide emissions in the biological nutrient removal process of wastewater treatment plants
- Human Toxicology and Epigenetics
- Development of an evidence- based risk management system for Legionella control in domestic water systems.
- Identification of microplastics in freshwater environments.
Find out more:
College of Health and Life Sciences
Institute for Environment, Health and Societies
Environment and Health Theme
Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)
Research degrees evolve in different ways according to discipline. Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure
Careers and your future
Paid work available to research students
Undertaking teaching and learning support duties represents an important professional and career development opportunity for postgraduate research students. Brunel offers two levels of paid work available to Postgraduate Research students. The first level post is as a Demonstrator and the second level post is as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Teaching and learning support duties will vary between Departments and research students should not rely on such opportunities being available. Find out more here.
Doctoral students graduating from Brunel University London in Environment and Health are highly valued by numerous employers and attain prominent roles as academics, PDRAs and Research Fellows in prestigious Universities worldwide. Some graduates find influential roles in Government Agencies, such as the Environment Agency and Food and Environmental Research Agency, or as environmental managers and ecotoxicologists in Industry, including Syngenta, Atkins and Proctor and Gamble. PhD Graduates have also joined various environmental consultancies as analysts, or have established their own consultancies serving on several National and International committees (e.g. OECD) dealing with current health/environment issues.
At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.
» More about Employability
Entry criteria 2019/20
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU entry requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)
You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.
If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.
Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.
We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.
Teaching and learning
Supervisors with insight
Our supervisors create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip research students with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Take a look below at just a few of them and browse all potential supervisor profiles further here. Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team here.
Our research is widely recognised internationally and benefits from strong international collaborations with pharmaceutical industries (e.g. AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Glaxo), water companies (Severn Trent Water, South West Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water) and with government authorities such as the European Environment Agency, the UK Environmental Agency of England and Wales and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Membership of London NERC – DTPs
Staff from Environment and Health participate in the London NERC Doctoral Training Program (DTP), a program that currently funds 70 PhD students in the natural sciences. The aim of the London NERC DTC is to attain new standards of excellence in environmental science research training, and deliver a transformative inter-disciplinary experience for PhD students in the heart of London. Students are trained at 9 of the World-leading research centres, which cover a huge range of environmental science research, from those driven by contemporary environmental challenges to those exploring complex questions about the evolution of planet Earth. Student projects within Environment and Health are mainly in the themes of Environmental Pollution, Natural and Biological Hazards and Past Life and the Environment. Examples of projects offered by the theme can be found here: https://london-nerc-dtp.org/phd-projects/
Study environment for research students
Find out more: Study environment for research students
Specialist equipment and facilities
Students have access to our state of the art research facilities, where we perform molecular biological and toxicological research, as well as chemical analyses and separation chromatography. We have specialist laboratories to house fish and invertebrate species.
Excellent research support and training
Extensive training and support is offered to all research students by the Graduate School, with regular Masterclasses and individual advice on academic issues as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Read more about the available Research Support and Training.
Brunel's library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 e-books, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject Information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.
- state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research publication and grant database
- one of the largest UK’s full text repository
- an integrated data management system
- analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
- Open Access centrally managed fund
Facts and figures
The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.
Our research revealing the link between chemicals in rivers and reproductive health has won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. By uncovering a link between exposure to water pollution and sex change in male fish in UK rivers, Professor John Sumpter’s research team provided the impetus for human health research also linking chemical exposure with declining sperm counts, increased incidence of male genital abnormalities, and testicular, breast and prostate cancer in human populations.
Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
Brunel University London is firmly within the top quarter of research universities in the UK according to REF 2014, with a number of areas of study including environmental and earth sciences, recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent for research impact. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008. The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
Fees and funding
Fees for 2019/20 entry
Fees (per year):
Part-time (for students not requiring Tier 4 visa)
Research projects undertaken within the Department of Life Sciences in the areas of Biosciences; Environmental Sciences; Psychology and Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences may require an annual bench fee. Research projects undertaken within the Department of Clinical Sciences in the areas of Physiotherapy; Occupational Therapy; Health Sciences and Social Work may also require an annual bench fee. The amount is variable dependent on the requirements of the project and will be discussed and agreed between the applicant and the supervisor at interview stage. This amount will be additional to tuition fees and will be stated in the offer letter from Admissions.
Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.
Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.