Dr Richard Thain

Dr Richard Thain

Director, The Hydrographic Academy


PhD in Oceanography (University of Plymouth) 

Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (University of Plymouth)

BSc (Hons) First Class, in Marine Sciences (Southampton Institute)

Professional membership

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Teaching interests

Following a spell working for the offshore oil industry as a hydrographic surveyor, I was employed as a  senior lecturer at Britannia Royal Naval College from 1999 to 2008.  I contributed to the delivery and development of courses in oceanography, underwater acoustics and meteorology, and during this time I also worked as an Associate Lecturer with the Open University, where I taught the S330 Oceanography distance learning course. 

Since 2008 I have been working for Plymouth University, where I am currently the Director of The Hydrographic Academy.  This innovative project aims to provide accredited training and education through e-learning, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, for hydrographic surveyors and those working in the wider marine industries:

Research interests

I am a founding member and the research coordinator for the Centre of Excellence in Naval Oceanographic Research and Education (CENORE), and work closely with the Royal Navy, industry and academia on military-orientated oceanographic research.


I am presently working on several projects examining estuarine mixing, frontal systems in estuaries, and acoustics in shallow water.  I am also actively engaged in research to improve and enhance teaching and learning.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Current PhD Students:

·         Feng Chen.  2010-present.  Effect of mesoscale variability of water masses in a shallow sea on acoustic wave propagation

·         Ali Saif Ali Saleh Almehrezi.  2010-present (part-time).  Local Meteorology and its effects on sensors over the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf.

Grants & contracts

·      £100,000. Royal Navy (principal investigator):  Oceanographic model resolution to meet the operational requirements of the Royal Navy.  December2011-present.

·      £41,000. Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (principal investigator): Capability of Remote Sensing and Ocean Modelling to provide the underwater Recognised Environmental Picture.  December 2010-August 2011.

·         £73,000. National HE STEM programme (principal investigator): The Hydrographic Academy: Meeting the needs of the workforce and industry through innovative flexible online, distance learning.  May 2011-May 2012.

·         Developmentand pre-operational validation of upgraded GMES Marine Core Services andcapabilities (MyOcean) EU-FP7 Research Project, Co-PI with the University ofPlymouth team (2009-2011) 


Chen, F.,Shapiro, G., Thain, R., 2013.  Sensitivity of Sea Surface Temperature Simulation by an Ocean Model to the Resolution of the Meteorological Forcing, ISRN Oceanography, vol. 2013, Article ID 215715, 12 pages, 2013. doi:10.5402/2013/21571


Priestley, A.D. and Thain, R. H.  2010.  Sonar propagation in stratified waters. Hydro-International,14 (2), 15-17.


Thain, R.H. and Priestley, A. D.  2010.  Scales of sound velocity variability in estuaries and shallow water, littoral areas.  Hydrographic Journal 131 & 132, 9-15.


Thain, R. H. , A. McDonough and A. D.Priestley.  2008.  A Teaching and Learning Strategy for a Modern Military Academy. Journal of Further and Higher Education Vol. 32, No. 4, 297–308

 Thain, R. H., A. D. Priestley and M. A.Davidson.  2004.  The formation of a tidal intrusion front at the mouth of a macrotidal, partially mixed estuary: a field study of the Dart estuary, UK.  Estuarine,Coastal and Shelf Science, 61, 161-172.





Chen, F., Shapiro, G., Thain, R.,2013.  Sensitivity of ocean models todifferent meteorological forcing, European Geosciences Union GeneralAssembly 2013, Vienna, Austria.

Chen, F., Shapiro, G., Thain, R.,2013.  Effect of Environmentaluncertainty on Low Frequency Sonar Propagation in a Shallow Sea, EuropeanGeosciences Union General Assembly 2013, Vienna, Austria.

Thain, R.H. and J. Scott.  2012. No Internet?  No problem.  Delivering distance learning to offline users.  National HE STEM Conference, Birmingham, UK.  4-6 September 2012.


Shapiro, G.I.,F. Chen, R. H. Thain.  2012.  Sensitivity of ocean model simulation in the coastal ocean to the resolution of the meteorological forcing.  Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 14, EGU 2012-2967, 2012 EGU General Assembly 2012.


Thain, R. H., A. D. Priestley, J. Pickering, G. Shapiro.  2010. Predicted and observed variability in sound speed in the oceanic littoral.  Maritime Rapid Environmental Assessment Conference, NATO Undersea Research Centre, Lerici, Italy. 18-22 October 2010.


Thain, R. H.,  A. D. Priestley, G. W. R. Hall.  2009. An analysis of high frequency sonar performance in estuaries:  Are we missing the target?  Hydro09, Cape Town, South Africa, 10-12 November 2009.


Priestley, A.D. and R. H. Thain.  2009.  Enhancingthe Student Experience through Integrated Research and Education in Hydrography, Meteorology and Oceanography. Hydro 09, Cape Town, South Africa,10-12 November 2009.


Priestley,A. D., T. E. Mason. and R. H. Thain.  2008. Acoustic signatures of sediment transport on gravel and mixed sand and gravel beaches. International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE), Hamburg, Germany, 31 August-5 September  2008.


Priestley,A. D. and R. H. Thain.  2007. Changing the Culture: A Teaching and Learning Strategy for a Modern Military Academy. International Training and Education Conference, Cologne (ITEC 2007).


Priestley,A. D. and R. H. Thain. 2003.  Water column variability at an estuarinemouth: implications for multibeam sonar surveys. Third international conference on high resolution surveys in shallowwater, Sydney, Australia, 17-21 November 2003.


Thain, R. H. & A.D. Priestley.  2002. The importance of tidal intrusion fronts for sonar operations.  Proceedings of the XIIIth International Scientific Conference, Naval University of Gdynia,Poland. 


Thain, R. H. & A.D. Priestley.  2002. Sound speed variability across an estuarine front.  Proceedings of the Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) conference, La Spezia, Italy.

Reports & invited lectures


Thain, R.Het al.,  2011,  Capability of Remote Sensing and Ocean Modelling to Provide the Underwater Recognised Environmental Picture (REP).  Report prepared for the Osprey Consortium, Task 27, MUWE/05/22/42/261, Thain R.H.and A.D. Priestley (eds.)   63pp.




PRIMAR Seminar, Stavanger, Norway.  19 June 2013. E-learning in support of the Blue Economy.


Southampton Oceanography Centre, Blue Economy Conference. 9 April 2013.  Supporting the demands of the Blue Economy.


Met Office,Devon.  May 2010.  Bridging the gap – Academia meets the military.  


The Hydrographic Academy

Centre of Excellence in Naval Oceanographic Research and Education - CENORE