Postgraduate research opportunities Assessing the international trade, jobs and skills of the future international hydrogen market and the transition from incumbent energy systems


Key facts

  • Opens: Friday 6 October 2023
  • Deadline: Wednesday 28 February 2024
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend


This project will examine the emerging low carbon hydrogen market and the potential impacts on the economy, international trade and jobs. This PhD project will add value to CEP’s current work exploring the green jobs market, the macroeconomic implications of decarbonisation and the emerging capital investment in hydrogen systems in the UK. The successful candidate must be available to start study on 1 April 2024 at the latest.
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Applicants must have good Honours degree with 1st Class or 2:1 and in addition, hold a Masters with Distinction or Merit degree in a social science discipline with:

  • An economics/political economy background and
  • A demonstrable interest in energy/climate/public policy issues

Some experience/understanding of economy-wide modelling approaches would be highly desirable, though not essential, where a willingness to develop this understanding through your PhD study would be of value for some of the project areas.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

This project will examine the emerging low carbon hydrogen market and the potential impacts on the economy, international trade and jobs. This PhD project will add value to CEP’s current work exploring the green jobs market, the macroeconomic implications of decarbonisation and the emerging capital investment in hydrogen systems in the UK. Given the emerging plans to extend hydrogen pipelines across the UK and Europe, the UK and Scottish policy interest in becoming significant producers of hydrogen, and the developing industrial interest in hydrogen use for industrial, domestic and transport applications, this area is of increasing interest in the policy discourse on decarbonisation. An understanding of the systems and macroeconomic dynamics is vital for informing policy and decision-making debates with real evidence and analysis.

The jobs and skills requirements of this emerging hydrogen economy and the reducing employment in contracting energy markets are also a subject of this PhD. The green jobs market, and the shared experience in other countries with similar or divergent energy market and employment dynamics. In particular, the experience of countries like Norway, Brazil and the United States of America all have fossil fuel and emerging low carbon energy markets and challenges relating to jobs and skills. An understanding of the similarities, differences and what has worked in terms of policy will provide valuable evidence for future decision making.

This PhD will meet the following objectives:

  • Define the plausible scenarios for hydrogen infrastructure development and international trade based on review of the available evidence and expert elicitation?
  • Establish a plausible range of costs for these infrastructure capital investments, where might these occur and what mechanism might be used to pay for them.
  • Assess the economic impacts of hydrogen investments and establish the counterfactual investment options and economic trade-offs.
  • Identify the jobs and skills issues, how does this interact with the surrounding context of jobs and skills in the wider energy economy and how to efficiently retrain the necessary workforce fit for the future energy economy.

Further information

We're interested to support the development of a range of methodological approaches, including computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling involving applied scenario development, systematic review of existing evidence, system dynamics and other energy systems modelling approaches, and/or analysis that supports wider public policy decision making through an understanding of the political economy.

The PhD candidate will join a growing team of researchers, academics and knowledge exchange professionals at the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Energy Policy (CEP). CEP was part of the School of Government and Public Policy’s submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which Times Higher Education has ranked as #1 across the UK in the Politics and International Studies Unit of Assessment. Virtually all of the departments research outputs were rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ and 100% of the impact of this research, which included a CEP impact case study, was rated as outstanding (4*). At CEP, the student will have access to a team of researchers working across the Net Zero space and would benefit from interaction with them, as well as access to personal development training fund which is provided centrally from the University. These funds could support, for example, attendance at conferences and participation in relevant training.

CEP investigates the economy-wide and societal outcomes of different pathways and actions to reach net zero.

In addition to this topic, CEP is also offering other funded PhD studentships which align with its current research in Economy-wide, distributional and policy analysis of the low carbon transition: implications for a sustainable economy, jobs and equity.  Please find links below for further information on CEP funded studentship opportunities and visit the Centre for Energy Policy website, for more details on its work.

Research topic: Delivering the low carbon heat transition and eradication of fuel poverty in Scotland: developing a mixed methods approach to interrogate and communicate the impacts of policy, industry and regulatory interventions – closing date for applications 14 January 2024, commencing study no later than 1 March 2024.

Research topic: Understanding the economy-wide implications of different policy actions to address barriers and improving the outcomes of adopting energy efficiency improvement measures – closing date for applications 28 February 2024, commencing study no later than 1 April 2024.

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Funding details

Home fees plus stipend paid monthly for 36 months at the UKRI rate, (Pro-rata for 2023/24 (6/12) as commencing in April 2024 £18,622 per annum, or £1,551 per month and increasing each year (tax free). 

Travel allowances for fieldwork and conferences will also be available. 

International students are welcome to apply, though in most cases it will only be possible to cover a share of fees equivalent to the domestic fee. However, self-funding the difference between domestic and international student rates is an option.

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Dr Speirs

Dr Jamie Speirs

Centre for Energy Policy

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To apply for this opportunity, please complete the following steps:

  • Select the apply button below
  • Once in the application system, under start date enter “1 April 2024”
  • In the funding section please enter "CEP Studentship”
  • In the research title/field of study please state the topic title(s)
  • If the supervisor is not listed in the drop-down list, please add in further information

Please upload the required documents (as below) to your application no later than 5pm GMT by the closing date, as incomplete applications will not be considered.

  • curriculum vitae reflecting your education and track record as relevant to this opportunity
  • Academic transcripts & certificates both undergraduate and Masters
  • A cover letter of no more than one page outlining your suitability and how your research interests align with those of the Centre of Energy Policy and one (or more) of the PhD opportunities outlined here.
  • A research proposal of no more than two pages (Arial 11pt, single spacing, normal margins) outlining which of the PhD topic areas you are submitting under and your initial thoughts on the research objectives, questions and methodologies for a potential project that would meet one of CEP’s propositions as set out above (your first choice but including indication as to potential crossover and/or interest in others). Please discuss which variables/outcomes you think are most important, what information sources to exploit and what challenges you expect need to be overcome to successfully answer the research question.
  • Full referee details for 2 academic references preferably one from Undergraduate and one from Masters programmes
  • IELTS (minimum overall band score of 6.5, with no individual score of less than 5.5) taken within 2 years prior to start date or equivalent, if applicable

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview.

Number of places: 1

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Programme: Politics

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

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Contact us

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