Postgraduate research opportunities 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

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Key facts

  • Opens: Thursday 14 December 2023
  • Deadline: Sunday 11 February 2024
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend

Overview

The PhD will be co-supervised by the Centre for Energy Policy Director, Professor Karen Turner, and Dr Kirsten Jenkins, an expert on the energy transition and social justice at the University of Edinburgh. The project will contribute to collaborative expansion of the evidence base and provide policy and decision-makers with the necessary evidence to effectively address the challenge of transitioning to a prosperous, sustainable, and more equitable net-zero economy in the UK.
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Eligibility

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

The project allows you to engage in a very policy relevant and novel study involving interaction with other researchers and methods at the Centre for Energy Policy (CEP).

The PhD will be co-supervised by the CEP Director, Professor Karen Turner, and Dr Kirsten Jenkins, an expert on the energy transition and social justice at the University of Edinburgh, commencing study no later than 1 March 2024, enabling them to work closely with CEP’s work leading the Equity Theme of the new UKRI funded Energy Demand Research Centre.

Context & aim

The Scottish Government has committed to reducing emissions from heat in buildings by 68% (from 2020 levels) by 2030 and that by 2040 no more than 5% of households will be ‘fuel poor’. Realising these ambitions will require policies informed by a strengthened understanding of the economic and societal implications of different heat decarbonisation actions on the most vulnerable households and what policy and regulatory interventions are required to ensure a fair transition. This PhD project seeks to build timely and this critical understanding contributing to ensuring Scotland’s Net Zero transition delivers access to sustainable and affordable energy for all households.

Description

This timely PhD project will develop insights on economically, politically, and socially feasible pathways to delivering the Scottish Government’s heat decarbonisation and fuel poverty eradication goals. Meeting these goals requires policies informed by improved understanding of how specific actions – including on pricing, fiscal interventions and/or energy supplier activity on heat networks and energy efficiency - may lower energy bills for fuel poor customers. This innovative and collaborative endeavour involving the University of Strathclyde and Energy Action Scotland will strengthen understanding to inform government, industry, and regulatory decision-making, including by drawing on the lived experiences of people experiencing fuel poverty.

The PhD project will be guided by three fundamental objectives, which could inform three work packages:

  1. Understanding the current energy policy landscape in relation to heat decarbonisation and fuel poverty in Scotland in particular, and relative to the UK picture (including reserved competencies). This should involve comparison across other nations to gain a global perspective that is clearly applicable within the devolved and reserved energy landscape of the UK.
  2. Using and/or informing and drawing on applied analyses, including potential wider economy scenario analyses, and/or case study based on cross-country learnings, to explore a range of current policy and regulatory interventions and their impact on heat decarbonisation and fuel poverty.
  3. Contributing to framing, identifying and building consensus around evidence-based political economy and social policy narratives around new economically, politically and socially feasible pathways to a low carbon heat transition characterised by greater equity and substantial reductions in fuel poverty.

Further information

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.

In addition to this topic, there are also other topic areas with funding opportunities that candidates may wish to consider and focus their proposals around. Please find links below for further information on the CEP and it’s work can be found by visiting the Centre for Energy Policy website.

Research topic: Understanding the economy-wide implications of different policy actions to address barriers to and improving the outcomes of adopting energy efficiency improvement measures – closing date for applications 28/02/2024, commencing study no later than 01/04/2024.

Research topic: Assessing the international trade, jobs and skills of the future international hydrogen market, and the transition from incumbent energy systems – closing date for applications 28/02/2024, commencing study no later than 01/04/2024.

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Funding details

The project is co-funded by Energy Action Scotland, the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership and the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Energy Policy (CEP).

Home fees plus stipend paid monthly for 36 months at the UKRI rate, (Pro-rata for 2023/24 (7/12) as commencing in March 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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Supervisors

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Apply

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 March 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.

  • A 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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Policy Analysis

Programme: Policy Analysis

PhD
full-time
Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

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Contact us

For further information regarding this topic and/or to engage in informal discussion in developing your research ideas, please contact karen.turner@strath.ac.uk and please copy to cep@strath.ac.uk.

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