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ESRC Wales DTP PhD in Psychology: The role of research culture, practice and choices in pursuit of sustainability and climate change mitigation

This funding opportunity has expired.

Key facts

Application deadline 10 April 2019
Start date 1 October 2019
Duration 3 years
Funding body ESRC
Level of study Postgraduate research
Award type PhD studentship
Number of studentships One

Based within the Cardiff University site of the prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, this PhD project will examine the cultures, practices and choices within the academic community that affect whether research programmes are themselves in line with a low-carbon and sustainable ethos.

The project will reveal the extent to which sustainability and climate change research is effectively challenging academic and societal norms around high-emitting activities such as diet, mobility, and material consumption.

The PhD candidate will set out to uncover assumptions about research practice that may be unstated or largely invisible to those working in research and higher education. They will explore the synergies, tensions and overlaps among different roles that researchers occupy, as well as the wider sustainability strategies within Cardiff University and other university and research sites.


An important wider context for the PhD is a recognition that effectively tackling climate change will require far-reaching action at all levels of society. The research community has played a pivotal role in drawing attention to the need for rapid emissions reduction. At the same time, universities and research programmes are themselves embedded within social structures and organisational practices that often incentivise high-carbon activities.

Sustainability commitments may be in competition with financial pressures, the need to recruit students internationally, and even the subject matter of courses (Ávila et al., 2017; Green, 2013). For researchers and academics working on climate change, the balancing of professional, public, and personal roles can be problematic (Nordhagen et al., 2014; Le Quéré et al., 2015).

There may be an expectation to attend international conferences and meetings for work; at the same time, researchers’ credibility in this field might be undermined by a perceived lack of consistency with their own choices (Attari et al., 2016). These tensions can be particularly pronounced for those working to influence policy or changes to people’s lifestyles, where the distinction between ‘advocacy’ and impartiality may be unclear (Boykoff and Oonk, 2018; Caset et al., 2018; Capstick et al., 2014).

Project methods and aims

The PhD will consider research practices at multiple levels, including individual, group, and organisational contexts. The research is likely to use mixed (quantitative and qualitative) methods, such as individual interviews, participant observation and ethnographic approaches, practitioner surveys and the measurement of carbon emissions.

The research is intended to drive forward best practice in the establishment of a low-carbon research culture, and to foster in-depth reflection on the role of the social and natural sciences in societal transformation.

Ideally, you will have some experience of, and an interest in, mixed methods research, and a background or interest in social or sustainability sciences. In addition, research experience and interest in the establishment of sustainable practice would be an advantage. The studentship offers an exciting and challenging opportunity to understand and shape research practice, at a time when climate change mitigation is increasingly recognised as urgent and fundamental for a prosperous society.

You will join a vibrant, interdisciplinary and agenda-setting academic community at one of the UK’s top five universities ranked by research.


The project will also be co-supervised by Dr Sarah Mander of Manchester University.


Clair Southard

Administrative contact

Funding details

Tuition fee support Full UK/EU tuition fees
Maintenance stipend Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Additional funding offered As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive conference and participant money (approx. £2,250 for the duration of the studentship). They also receive a computer, office space and access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy.

Eligibility criteria

Residency UK Research Council eligibility conditions apply
Academic criteria

As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals, and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.


Clair Southard

Administrative contact

Consideration is automatic on applying for the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology.

In the 'Research proposal and Funding' section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of the project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select 'No, I am not self-funding my research' when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for ESRC Wales DTP PhD in Psychology: The role of research culture, practice and choices in pursuit of sustainability and climate change mitigation.

Additionally, please include your CV and a personal statement in support of your application.

We reserve the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.


Clair Southard

Administrative contact

Funding opportunity provided by:

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Eligible research programmes