Seven PhD positions available

Seven PhD positions are available in coastal erosion and flooding, and coastal adaptation in New Zealand. Positions will remain open until filled.

Pancake rocks, coastal erosion

New Zealand has an exciting and diverse coastline with complex problems that attract top-level international researchers. We have seven fully-funded PhD positions available, starting after July 2019, at the University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Waikato or Victoria University of Wellington, in collaboration with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

These projects are funded by the programme “Adapting to New Zealand’s Dynamic Coastal Hazards” within the “Resilience Challenge” National Science Challenge. The overarching aim of the Resilience Challenge is to develop and apply new scientific solutions to transform our resilience to New Zealand’s wide diversity of natural hazards.

This Challenge was started in 2015, and the advertised PhD projects are part of the five-year Phase II (a continuation of the Phase I ‘Living at the Edge’ Programme). The coastal research programme (‘Adapting to New Zealand’s Dynamic Coastal Hazards’) in Phase II aims to resolve fundamental science and policy questions faced by coastal communities around Aotearoa-New Zealand regarding uncertain coastal hazard futures.

Our immediate need is for four PhD students in coastal change and coastal flooding, starting in mid-2019.

Two University of Auckland PhD projects will focus on the Coastal Change sub-theme with Associate Professor Mark Dickson and Dr Murray Ford. 

Project 1 | Satellite-based coastal-change detection. Desirable skills/experience: remote sensing, programming, Google Earth Engine, computer science.

Project 2 | Quantifying coastal-change patterns. Desirable skills/experience: GIS, remote sensing, geomorphology.

For all enquiries and applications, please email

Two University of Waikato PhD projects will be in the Coastal Flooding sub-theme with Professor Karin Bryan, Dr Scott Stephens (NIWA) and Dr Shari Gallop. 

Project 3 | Estuarine flooding predictors. Desirable skills/experience: Computer programming, coastal processes/engineering

Project 4 | Influence of human–climate interactions on coastal flood hazard and risk. Desirable skills/experience: Numerical modelling with Delft3D, coastal processes/engineering

For all enquiries and applications, please email

In addition to the projects outlined above we are also looking for three PhD students in coastal change and adaptation, to start in 2020/21.

PhD project 5 will be based at the University of Otago focussing on coastal-change drivers on vegetated dune coasts with Associate Professor Mike Hilton & Associate Professor Mark Dickson. 
Enquiries: please email

PhD project 6 will be based at Victoria University of Wellington with Dr Judy Lawrence and Dr Rob Bell (NIWA): Methodologies for enabling adaptation to imminent risk from sea-level rise and for addressing the ongoing rise in risk for coastal areas.
Enquiries: please email

PhD project 7 will be based at the University of Auckland with Dr Colin Whittaker and Dr Rob Bell: Versatile adaptation of coastal roading infrastructure.
Enquiries: please email

The application process

To apply for one of these projects, please send a CV, a covering letter, degree certificates and evidence of English proficiency (e.g. IELTS or TOEFL) to the emails provided above. Please send as a single document, pdf preferred.

  • Your covering letter should outline the project you are interested in, your suitability for the project and the skills you can contribute.
  • Please include contact details of two academic referees in your CV.
  • If you are interested in more than one project, please apply for your first preference only and indicate your interest in other projects in the cover letter.
  • If you are a successful candidate for funding, you will still need to apply for acceptance into the PhD programme at the University where the PhD project is hosted.

Note | In general, an MSc or BSc(Hons) with a research component (thesis) that is more than a quarter a year (ideally more than a half) of their study is needed to gain access to a PhD programme within New Zealand.

Positions will remain open until filled.