UCL Energy Institute


Fully-funded PhD Studentship in low carbon modelling

26 March 2018

UCL Energy Institute invites applications for a fully funded four-year PhD in developing multi-scale regional modelling for low-carbon transitions.

Wind turbines


  • Title: PhD Studentship: Developing multi-scale regional modelling for low-carbon transitions
  • Supervisors: Dr Will McDowall, Lecturer in Eco-Innovation, UCL ISR; and Steve Pye, Principal Researcher in Energy Systems, UCL EI
  • Stipend: £16,777 plus fees of £5,060
  • Start Date: September/October 2018
  • Funding Duration: 4 years
  • Eligibility please check: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/ Candidates need to be UK / EU citizens, and resident in the UK for three years prior to starting the studentship.

UCL Energy Institute invites applications for a fully funded 4-year PhD studentship covering UK/EU fees plus stipend. It will focus on the development of approaches to improve energy system models at the regional scale, to help facilitate decision making and planning that meets the socio-economic priorities of communities at a sub-national scale. 


In many countries, while the political push for a low carbon energy transition is being co-ordinated at the national level, many of the key decisions and actions will be delivered at the regional and local scales, by businesses, local communities and project developers. However, many of the pathways that emerge from national scale modelling do not contend with the differences in geography that will influence the relative success of sustainable energy solutions in a given region. Such differences may be numerous, and be mapped across political, social, environmental, economic, demographic and resource dimensions. At the sub-national scale, stakeholders need quantitative tools that allow them to explore their own priorities, and to inform decision making, whether that be in relation to, for example, heat decarbonisation, transport infrastructure or community energy projects. At the same time, decision making at the local scale needs to be cognisant of the overarching strategies at the national scale. The lack of multi-scale modelling to address different levels of decision making is apparent, and exposes a major research gap.


The proposed PhD topic includes the development of innovative approaches to multi-scale modelling that will help inform decision makers at a sub-national level of the necessary low carbon energy sector investments. In your PhD, you will be expected to gain a broad understanding of the different modelling approaches that could be applied to this challenge, including integrated energy system models. The research will also involve the development of new or existing energy models that are innovative methodologically and crucially that can be applied for real world policy challenges in the UK. It is also expected that the research will have a strong participatory element, facilitating the involvement of local decision makers into the analytical process. The PhD will potentially involve working with a range of public sector institutions and regional decision making bodies. You will be comfortable with interfacing with professionals from other disciplines and as your PhD unfolds, become an expert on regional scale energy models informing the decision making process.

Person specification

The project is well suited to a quantitative individual with an engineering, social science or economics background, or related discipline. Students should have a bachelor's degree in such a subject, awarded with first-class or upper second-class (2:1) honours, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institute. For those applicants with a first or 2:1, possession of a master's degree in engineering, economics, social science or a related discipline is highly desirable.

  • Excellent analytical and computing skills. Passionate about quantitative analysis, modelling, and conducting research.
  • An MSc degree in engineering, social science or economics, or other relevant quantitative disciplines.
  • Candidates without a master's degree may be admitted in exceptional cases where suitable research or professional experience can be demonstrated.
  • Knowledge of relevant programming languages or statistical software is desirable
  • Ability use own initiative, prioritise workload, and be a fair team player
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written)
  • A high level of attention to detail in working methods
  • Interest in the challenges of the low carbon transition, and developing solutions to tackling climate change

Application procedure

Stage 1 - Pre-application documents - (1) CV, (2) academic transcripts, and (3) 1-page personal statement outlining motivation, interest and eligibility for the post - should be emailed directly to Teresa Dawkins: bseer-phd-admin@ucl.ac.uk with ESPRC application in the subject field.Stage 2 - Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme. 

Any offer made will be subject to references and proof of meeting the UCL English language requirements.

Informal enquiries on the content of the research topic should be emailed to Steve Pye, s.pye@ucl.ac.uk

Deadline for application: 25th May 2018

Interviews: week commencing 4th June 2018