UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


New: PhD research project opportunity on air quality and thermal performance in overcrowded housing

19 May 2023

The UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering is looking for applications to a PhD research project on, 'Addressing air quality and thermal performance to help tackle inequalities in overcrowded UK dwellings: development of enhanced household overcrowding metrics'

Image of bunkbeds in a room

Overcrowding in residential buildings is a growing problem in some areas of the UK, being especially prevalent in ethnic minority households and potentially leading to adverse health and wellbeing impacts, such as increased risk of infection transmission (e.g. COVID-19) and mental health problems. Definitions of overcrowding typically consider the number of space/rooms available for each household/person, with local authorities utilising the ‘bedroom standard’ in particular to identify those households which could be moved to a bigger property because they are ‘overcrowded’.

The bedroom standard criteria define how many people can share a bedroom, depending on their age, gender and relationship status. However, ventilation provision and thermal performance should be additional criteria when evaluating risks in overcrowded dwellings. For example, inadequate ventilation and thermal performance could further increase the risk of dampness and mould growth in overcrowded dwellings. Therefore, for the same household characteristics and number of bedrooms, health risks may be greater in those dwellings with sub-standard ventilation or thermal performance. 

This doctoral research project builds upon ongoing projects and seeks to develop performance metrics for use by local authorities to complement existing definitions of overcrowding and help support and prioritise overcrowded households. The doctoral research will be supervised by Dr Marcella Ucci, who has extensive expertise and track record in healthy and sustainable building design/operation, and Dr Phil Symonds, who has expertise in building stock model development and analysis of large datasets through cutting-edge statistical and machine learning methods. The work will involve secondary data analysis and performance modelling at the individual and building stock scale. The work will involve secondary data analysis and performance modelling at the individual and building stock scale.

This is a self-funded studentship where all UCL fees and living expenses would have to be covered by the successful candidate.  A range of financial awards aimed at assisting current students with their studies are available from UCL, The Bartlett Faculty, and our individual department.

The ideal candidate will have:

  1. A good understanding of building physics principles, particularly ventilation and thermal performance
  2. Knowledge of building performance modelling software
  3. Knowledge of, or a strong interest in, statistical methods applicable to building-related datasets.

A degree or postgraduate education in engineering, architecture, sustainable design or similar is required. Other degrees may be considered depending on the candidate’s prior experience in relevant subjects.

Application process

Please submit your pre-application by email to bseer-phd-admin@ucl.ac.uk.

Your pre-application should include the following:

  1. A covering letter clearly stating why you wish to apply for the doctoral project, outlining how your interests and experience relate to it, and
  2. Your CV / resume

To discuss the studentship, please contact Dr Marcella Ucci: m.ucci@ucl.ac.uk.

Additional information

  • Please note that only shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview.
  • Should you be shortlisted and invited to interview, please note that all interview shortlisted candidates will be asked to provide proof of their degree certificate(s), transcript(s) of degree(s), and evidence of their capacity to meet the fees requirement.
  • The interview panel will consist of the academic supervisors of the project, here in UCL.
  • The interview will include a short presentation from the candidate on their ideas of how to approach this PhD project.
  • Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme for the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering.
  • The Doctoral research project will ideally run for four years from September 2023 and the successful candidate will undertake this project in UCL at the main (Bloomsbury) campus and lab work may be conducted at UCL HereEast (Stratford).
  • For more information about our work, please visit the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering website.

Application deadline: 11 June 2023 @2359hrs / 11.59pm (UK time)


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