PhD program in Environment and Sustainability

General information

Programa de Doctorado en Medio Ambiente y Sostenibilidad

The Environment and Sustainability Doctoral Program represents an adaptation to the provisions in Royal Decree 99/2011, with the firm commitment to provide quality training and combine the latest trends in research on the environment and its implication in sustainability. Furthermore, it is directly linked with existing programs at the UMH and other nearby universities and the demands of our immediate socio-economic surroundings.

Social interest and demand. In recent years, the Spanish society has become aware of the need to learn about, appreciate, and interact with the environment in a sustainable manner. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly more determined to implement measures and develop actions that protect biodiversity, improve air, water, and soil quality, and ultimately, our ecosystems and quality of life. These are precisely the aspects that this program's lines of research deal with, seeking sustainability in our interactions with the environment. Therefore, nothing is more appropriate than the involvement of the faculty participating in this program with the social aspects, as its soliciting members include the Director of the UMH Environmental Area, the Coordinator of the UMH Environmental Office and developer of the website. Furthermore, they participate in and direct the Observatory of Environmental Sustainability of the Province of Alicante (OSAPA) and hold representative positions on environmental councils and similar bodies in city councils and natural areas within the Valencian Community. This circumstance helps bring research closer to society and, conversely, enables detecting societal demands and applying them to teaching and innovation.

Alongside social awareness, a growing number of companies and institutions are interested in improving their activities in terms of environmental sustainability, introducing innovations that can improve their productivity without damaging ecosystems, and taking advantage of their ecological functionality. The Environment and Sustainability Doctoral Program pursues this philosophy by combining respect for the environment with the need to innovate.

The relationships we have established with various governmental levels, both local, through environmental municipal councils (e.g., Elche and San Vicente del Raspeig), and regional (participating in managing bodies of protected natural areas, advising various autonomous communities and developing joint projects), as well as nationwide institutions (Observatory on Sustainability in Spain, OSE) and scientific associations that the faculty and researchers in the PhD program belong to will be maintained and fostered. 

The PhD program is currently based in the Faculty of Experimental Sciences, but it is thought that doctoral schools will be formed in the near future. The figure of a doctoral school is something that has been taking shape in recent months, and something that this program could be incorporated into. Such doctoral schools can benefit from the interaction the UMH has been developing with the business world for years, and work more intensely in coordinating and promoting R&D activities.

This PhD program, Environment and Sustainability is related to the environmental studies and is directly linked with existing studies (i.e. Environmental Sciences degree) at the UMH and other nearby universities and the demands of our immediate socio-economic surroundings. Students of this program are challenged to think outside the boundaries of traditional disciplinary programs to address environmental and sustainability challenges with regional, national, and international significance. 

The main objective is the research about the interactions between man and environment, concerning to environmental problems and solutions. The program is structured in five research lines based in the long experience and research of the members integrated in the program:

  1. Wastes, sustainable use and environmental management.
  2. Soil, water and land.
  3. Forest soils and wildfires.
  4. Air pollution and quality.
  5. Biodiversity, sustainability and ecosystems functionality.

Waste, sustainable use and environmental management. This line of applied research begins with knowledge of the characterization and origin of waste with the goal of reducing its production to then develop strategies allowing for its use. Special emphasis is placed on urban and plant organic waste, inert or semi-inert inorganic waste, as well as improving the properties of waste from productive processes, in wastewater, and low quality water. The intent is to conduct research similar to that begun so as to further the improvements in waste treatment, in the determination of the best uses from the sustainability point of view, and reduce contamination risks arising from its use. One of the uses most attention is paid to is its use in soil remediation as well as for generating technosols and new materials. Similarly, given the water scarcity situation, the reuse of water is a priority research objective. This line has been underway for twenty-five years and its origin is in the assessment and use of biosolids and other composted organic material, and the use of waste and saline water for irrigation. Furthermore, environmental aspects of pollution and the assessment of byproducts arising from various activities (new materials, biomass energy) are currently being addressed to broaden the spectrum of sustainable uses for the main types of waste produced in our surroundings. 

Soil, water, and land. This line has been ongoing for about ten years. It analyzes and determines the fundamental role soil plays in the land and in natural and anthropic ecosystems, starting with its properties and the use that is made of them based on land management and handling, its planning and development, as well as its influence on water resources, especially in relation to its quality. It is about seeing and understanding soil as a key environmental component and a resource integrated into the geographic space, analyzing soil-land interrelationships from soil sciences and soil-water properties, both resources converging in amphibious as well as wetland areas. In order to do this, tools based on common analytical techniques are used to determine the properties of soil and water, assess their characteristics and current state, and determine their quality. However, new technologies are also implemented as management and study tools that can provide support to sustainable management and use of territory, in line with internationally promoted actions and programs as is the case of the European Union (Corine-Land-Cover, INSPIRE, etc.). Computer-based methods and information technologies are introduced for this, such as the Geographic Information System (GIS), along with the study of spectral properties of matter at microspatial, mesospatial, and macrospatial scales, using measuring systems such as VNIR radiometry, field radiometry, and space remote sensing.

Biodiversity, sustainability, and functioning of ecosystems. This line of research addresses studying the role of biodiversity and the structure of communities in the regulation of ecosystem processes, such as carrion consumption, nutrient fixation, plant-fungus or predator-prey interactions. Also examined are distribution and biogeographical patterns of threatened species and socioeconomic and sustainability relationships between ecosystem processes and services under global change. The basic and applied results of the line of research are part of the scientific disciplines of ecology, biology, geography, conservation biology, multidisciplinary sciences, genetics, botany, and zoology.

Contact Person: José Navarro Pedreño (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0712 - Environmental protection technology", "0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology


Venue: Miguel Hernández University of Elche
Elche, Spain





This doctoral program is intended for all those who have ​​higher education studies relevant to the environment in the fields of Science (Environmental Science, Biotechnology, Biology, Geology, Marine Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, …), Agriculture, Forestry and Forest, Chemical Engineering, Pharmacy (environmental items) and Geography. On the subject of the research and content of the PhD program, preference will be given to those students who have studied Environmental Science or equivalent in the EHEA framework or third countries, provided they meet the requirements of the RD 99/2011 for both the Spanish students and those from overseas. It is also highly recommended that you have at least English level B1.

General admissions criteria: The requirements for admission into doctoral programs are those explicitly established in Article 6 of Royal Decree 99/2011.
Pre-registration for the PhD program is accomplished via mechanisms provided by the Miguel Hernández University of Elche, accessible by different means arranged by the university, and also via its website under the Doctoral Program Section (

Specific admissions criteria: The provisions in the UMH Doctoral Program Regulations indicate:
PhD programs must indicate the specific transversal training required for admission into them. All programs require 6 ECTS interdisciplinary training credits called Research Activities and Funding. This is joint training for all UMH PhD programs, and the university will establish the mechanisms necessary to ensure it is offered each semester.
Furthermore, the PhD program establishes that:
Pre-registered prospective students will be ranked by the Doctoral Program Academic Committee. To do this, the following weighted criteria will be considered:
1. Prospective students must present an endorsement in writing by one of the PhD researchers in the program (and submitted by either the applicant or such researcher to the program coordinator). If this is not possible, they will be personally interviewed by the Academic Commission and representatives of all research groups, where basically three aspects will be assessed:
a) The interest in the program shown by them, their foreseen availability and dedication. 
b) The possibility of conducting stays abroad and preparing a European doctorate.
c) Language skills. Without taking Spanish into consideration, C1 or C2 English language certification and further knowledge of an additional language at the B1 or B2 level are necessary. Having an endorsement or passing the interview is an indispensable requirement. To facilitate access, the PhD program coordinator and the primary researchers in the groups are listed on the website and available to those interested in establishing the appropriate contact and for resolving doubts and questions regarding research tasks.
2. Once the prospective student has passed the interview or obtained the endorsement by a PhD researcher, the grade point average from their academic transcripts will be taken (undergraduate and master's education or the equivalent in the case of foreign students). Undergraduate education and that equivalent account for 40% of the total ranking, while master's education and that equivalent account for 20%.
3. Suitability of the student's existing education to the PhD program, showing a clear relationship to the environment and sustainability. Priority will be given to students with academic backgrounds in environmental science and that similar, undergraduate and graduate levels alike, followed by other profiles of interest such as other sciences and engineering. This accounts for 20% of the total ranking.
4. Applicant's Curriculum Vitae, considering that information being assessed is only that related to the development of research activities and that similar: conference participation (attendance and/or presentation of communications), scientific publications (prioritizing indexed journals over the non-indexed variety), organization of events (scientific meetings, conferences, etc.). This accounts for 20% of the total ranking.

Application Procedure:

Acceso y Admisión

Los estudiantes interesados en ser admitidos en un Programa de Doctorado han de realizar la preinscripción online entre julio y septiembre. Todos los estudiantes han de entregar:

  • Resguardo de preinscripción debidamente firmado.
  • Fotocopia del DNI o pasaporte en el caso de estudiante extranjero.
  • Curriculum Vitae.


Academic level: PhD
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