Sustainable Futures

                                                 Pathway available at Bath, Bristol, Exeter and UWE

What is it?

The Sustainable Futures pathway of the SWDTP offers ESRC 1+3 and +3 postgraduate research training that explores the interface between sustainability, energy and the environment by engaging the latest critical thinking on psychology, behaviour, risk management, critical infrastructure, public regulation, policy studies and the environmental sciences.

The pathway draws on expertise from the following Schools, Institutes and Research Centres from the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter and UWE which make up the South West Doctoral Training Partnership.

At the University of Bath:

At the University of Bristol:

At the University of Exeter:

At the University of the West of England – UWE Bristol:

All four institutions have made significant institutional investment in the areas of sustainability, energy and environment. Together, they offer world-class research and expertise, and significant links to policy and business, and provide a bridge between the natural, environmental and social sciences which this interdisciplinary pathway seeks to build upon.

Who is it for?

The Sustainable Futures pathway will train social science researchers who understand the impacts of living with environmental change, the uncertainties of environmental change for energy and food security and the diverse responses needed to foster behaviours, practices and policies that promote sustainability and resilience. Students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds will be accepted into this pathway. They will be required to demonstrate explicitly how their research will be interdisciplinary. 

What are the prerequisites?

Sustainable Futures will offer both 1+3 and +3 studentships. Students applying for the 1+3 programme will have a high honours undergraduate degree or equivalent from a relevant discipline. Students applying for the +3 programme must have completed an MRes or MSc programme with appropriate research training or equivalent by September 2023.

What will I study in the first year?

Students applying for a 1+3 programme will take research training that follows the SWDTP’s standard interdisciplinary format; i.e. core research training modules will be selected from the consortia’s offerings in research design, methods, and analysis; there will be one pathway specific module; and optional modules will be selected from a specified list. There is also a research dissertation. The pathway specific module is a co-convened core course entitled Contemporary Debates in Sustainability. Training will also draw on expertise in physical geography, earth sciences, energy studies and beyond through participation in the university initiatives identified above.

Who will supervise my thesis?

All ESRC funded students will have two supervisors, one from each of two institutions in the SWDTP.  The supervisors will come from different disciplines.  Non ESRC funded students will have two supervisors from different disciplines within one institution. The supervisors will convene joint meetings on a regular basis.

How many studentships are there in this pathway?

PhD studentships will be awarded each year on a competitive basis from a pool of 45 SWDTP studentships across the five universities.

When would it start?

Students will be expected to start September/October annually. If you undertake the MRes prior to your PhD please note that there will be two core units that may not be taught at your home institution and will require you to travel. Travel expenses will be reimbursed.

How do I apply?

  • Work out your substantive research topic
  • Contact the pathway lead at your preferred host University with a brief description of your proposed topic (no more than 1 page).
  • Dr Paul Bain, University of Bath,, Dr Alice Venn, University of Bristol,, Rachel Turner, University of Exeter,, or Professor Graham Parkhurst, UWE,
  • Research and contact prospective supervisors in your area of interest from Bath, Bristol, Exeter or UWE. The pathway lead may be able to put you in touch with potential supervisor(s) for your topic but you should also do your own research on this.
  • Write a 1300-word proposal, outlining your research questions, sources and approach, and an explicit account of why your research proposal is interdisciplinary.
  • Students applying for ESRC funded studentships are encouraged to speak to their chosen school prior to application in order to discuss their research ideas with a suitable supervisor.  Students are also encouraged to look at ways of incorporating collaboration with external partners into their research proposal.  Collaboration does not always have to be a financial arrangement and could take the form of a placement, voluntary work, data sharing or other payment in kind opportunities.  Students considering overseas fieldwork, overseas institutional visits or difficult language training should also mention this in their application.
  • Submit your proposal on your host University using their institution-specific information and online application forms.  All applicants are required to provide two references.
  • Please see the Admissions Statement & FAQs 2023 Entry for further information about the proposal and collaboration.

Bath: Apply for sustainable futures

Bristol: PhD Sustainable Futures | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol

Exeter:  Sustainable Futures | Postgraduate Study – PhD and Research Degrees | University of Exeter

UWE Bristol: South West Doctoral Training Partnership – Studentship opportunities | UWE Bristol

How do I apply for a studentship