Fully Funded and Visifish PhD Scholarship: Behavioural Metrics of Welfare in Aquaculture, UK

Funding providers: Swansea University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and VisiFish Ltd.

Subject areas: Animal Welfare, Animal Domestication, Behavioural Indicators, Machine Vision, Artificial Intelligence

Project start date: 

1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September)


Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz (Swansea University, Welfare in Aquaculture)

Professor Sofia Consuegra (Swansea University, Fish Domestication)

Professor Christos Ioannou (Bristol Universty, Behavioural Ecology)

Professor Andrew Dowsey (Bristol Universty, Artificial Intelligence & Machine vision)

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Biological Sciences

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description:

Ensuring good welfare is central for the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry but because domestication of aquatic organisms is relatively recent compared to terrestrial plants and animals, knowledge and protocols for assessing welfare in aquaculture is limited. Stereotyped behaviours, phenotype divergence, and poor cognition are often associated with living in simplified and predictable environments typical of aquaculture setting but their importance for domestication and welfare are not clear.

In this collaborative PhD project the student will develop and test behaviour-based operational welfare indicators (OWIs) that can improve the welfare of selected farmed species. Using state-of-the art facilitires at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) we will assess the behavioural changes that occurr under artificial rearing in order to improve welfare and inform artificial selection progammes. A combination of behavioural assays, machine vision and deep-learning will be used.

The project is a collaboration between Swansea University, the University of Bristrol and a commercial sponsor (Visifish https://visi.fish/), and will be embedded in the IGNITION EU project. Susbtantiall networking opportunities and unique career skills are offered through the interaction with 18 leading research partners and commercial sponsors.

We are looking for an enthusiastic student interested in developing a research project at the interface between aquaculture, behavioural studies, and AI.


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level in Biosciences or a related subject, or a master’s degree with a minimum overall grade at ‘Merit’ (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University). See ‘country specific information for European and international applicants (available at the bottom of the page)’.

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. Details on the Swansea University English Language entry policy can be found here.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.

NB: If you are holding a non-UK degree, please see Swansea University degree comparisons¬†to find out if you meet the eligibility.

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email [email protected] with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in.


This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rate (currently £17,668 for 2022/23) for four years.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

Course choice – please select Biological Sciences / Ph.D. / Full-time / 3 Year / October

In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email [email protected] where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

Start year – please select 2023

Funding (page 8) –

‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No

‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS340 – PhD Biological Sciences’

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University:

Equality,¬†Diversity¬†and Inclusion (EDI) Monitoring Form (online form)

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):


Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)

A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.

Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.

Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).

Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)

Confirmation of EDI form submission (optional)

For enquiries, please contact Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz ([email protected]) / Professor Sofia Consuegra ([email protected]).

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please not that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.

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