PhD Position in Dynamic Ocean Governance

Carl Von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Sea

The Helmholtz-Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) is a new institute on interdisciplinary marine biodiversity research, established on the campus of the University of Oldenburg. It joins the scientific profiles of the Institute of Chemistry and Biology of Marine Systems (ICBM) Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute – Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research Bremerhaven (AWI). The university is home to a vibrant Institute for Social Science, which is developing ties to the HIFMB. Within the HIFMB, expertise in marine functional ecology, data science and theory are joined with a strong social science and humanities profile. The HIFMB at the University of Oldenburg invites applications for a

PhD Position (f/m/d)

Dynamic ocean governance: Rethinking space, time and movement in managing marine environments

(pay rate E13 TV-L, 65%, starting as soon as possible for a period of 3 years)

The Marine Governance Group of the HIFMB uniquely understands ‘governance’ as an inherently geographical process. The Group explores how governance does not just happen anywhere, but somewhere. Group members investigate how the geographies of what we seek to govern, or do govern at sea, is shaped by the location, character and qualities of place and relations with surrounding spaces. In this context, we are offering a PhD position within the recently established Research Group: Marine Governance led by Professor Kimberley Peters.

There are currently calls for 30% of the seas and oceans to be zoned for protection. Percentage based targets for the conservation and restoration of seas and oceans, within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction, have been central to global governance efforts. Such targets rely on the establishment of designated areas of space to manage ocean health, marine biodiversity and to balance competing economic uses and environmental pressures. But are such approaches always the best ones for managing a mobile, fluid, three-dimensional realm such as the sea, where targets for management (from fish to ships) move? Are our seas ‘locked into’ accepted modes of management, creating ever more enclosed, or even ‘carceral’ seas? This PhD position will use a suite of social science methods and creative case studies to develop understandings of the barriers to, and potential for, dynamic modes of governance that do not rely on fixed, area-based zones for management. Whilst there is a growing field of work on dynamic ocean governance, there are few understandings of the societal, economic and technological challenges to enacting such flexible forms of governance. This position will attend to these crucial questions whilst also exploring how doing so requires us to think differently about space, time and movement.

Required skills and experience

  • An academic university degree (Masters or Diploma (not of a University of Applied Sciences)) in a discipline such as Human Geography, Planning, Political or Social Science, Environmental Humanities or Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences.
  • Experience of designing, conducting, and completing a research project in the social sciences (or a project with social science components).
  • Experience of using qualitative methodologies such as in-depth interviewing, ethnography and textual analysis.
  • Ability to be creative and inventive in thinking about research problems.
  • Fluent English language skills.
  • An openness, willingness and enthusiasm to work in an interdisciplinary environment and to collaborate with the sciences.
  • Ability to work independently but also as part of the Marine Governance team.
  • An awareness of key debates in the Marine Social Sciences is preferred.
  • Evidence of working with key conceptual ideas such as space, time and movement is desirable but not essential.

Application deadline: 18 March 2021

Starting date: as soon as possible

Appointment type: 3-year fixed term appointment

Salary: TV-L E13 (65%).

Location: Oldenburg

HIFMB offers a multi-disciplinary, international, and fascinating professional environment for researching the marine environment. The HIFMB is committed to being a diverse, inclusive community. We have a range of equality employment policies and practices, family friendly and flexible working arrangements, staff engagement forums, campus facilities and services to support staff from a variety of backgrounds.

The University of Oldenburg is dedicated to increasing the percentage of female employees in the field of science. Therefore, female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. In accordance with Lower Saxony regulations (§ 21 Section 3 NHG) female candidates with equal qualifications will be preferentially considered. Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

An application should consist of a letter (2 pages maximum) explaining your background, interests and motivation for undertaking a PhD in the area described, alongside a CV and relevant qualifications documents, for example degree certificates. This should be submitted as a single PDF file to

More information about the Institute is here: and Group here: you have any questions please contact Head of Marine Governance, Kimberley Peter,