Energy, Resilience and the Built Environment MPhil/PhD
The 4 year Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE) PhD programme will train graduates to pursue original research to support the transition to zero carbon and the transformation of the relationship between supply and demand. Students will benefit from subject-specific and transferrable skills training courses, support from leading researchers, and access to a network of alumni and potential employers.
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject, is essential. Exceptionally: where applicants have other suitable research or professional experience, they may be admitted without a Master's degree; or where applicants have a lower second-class UK Honours Bachelor's degree (2:2) (or equivalent) they must possess a relevant Master's degree to be admitted. We expect any successful application to include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a Master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.
- English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Standard
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
- ATAS statement
If you are intending to apply for a time-limited visa to complete your UCL studies (e.g., Student visa, Skilled worker visa, PBS dependant visa etc.) you may be required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will be confirmed to you if you obtain an offer of a place.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.
About this degree
Our energy system is undergoing a major and rapid transformation as we move towards net zero carbon and away from centralised power production from fossil fuels. The built environment plays a key role, as a major source of energy demand and also a provider of flexibility and resilience to the energy system. A new relationship between supply and demand must be forged, where how we consume, and store energy is central to ensuring system robustness and optimising costs. This programme will train you to understand the systemic, radical, multi and interdisciplinary challenges we face and equip you with the leadership credentials to effect change.
The MPhil/PhD programme is run by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE) and is open to both students who are awarded scholarships by the CDT and to those funded from other sources. The 4-year programme will provide the knowledge, research and transferable skills to enable graduates in subjects from physics to social sciences to pursue research in this emerging field. Supported by experienced researchers, and working together as a cohort, students will study a wide range of topics at the intersection of the energy system and the built environment.
Flexibility and resilience: the interaction between buildings and the whole supply system, through new generation and storage technology, enabled by smart control systems and new business models.
Technology and system performance: demand reduction and decarbonisation of the built environment through design, construction methods, technological innovation, monitoring and regulation.
Comfort, health and well-being: buildings and energy systems that create productive work environments and affordable, clean, safe homes.
More information can be found on the website: ERBE CDT
Who this course is for
What this course will give you
We are on the brink of a revolution in the way we think about the relationship between energy supply and demand. This revolution will see the creation of a new energy system, requiring the deployment of emerging technologies and new business models. The ERBE programme adopts an holistic, multi-disciplinary and international perspective, focusing on the interactions between energy supply systems and buildings, and the need to create healthy and productive home and work environments. You will be trained within thriving research institutes by skilled research teams, additionally supported by a management team with considerable experience of doctoral training.
The ERBE programme is designed to support and challenge both students with no previous experience of the sector, and those already within it. The new and exciting research you will undertake will be complemented by training, in particular the six interlinked taught courses in the first year of study, which run alongside research. These pass/fail courses provide context and technical content from different perspectives: economics, physics, engineering, social sciences, data analysis and research skills. This will help you transfer your existing skills to the research domain, and develop new ones.
By working with students in your own year group, and the wider programme cohort, you will develop a deep understanding of the sector from a range of perspectives. Research-specific training is complemented by workshops, networking opportunities, and optional skills training. By developing research and workplace skills, and combining that with deep sector knowledge, you will be well placed to develop a career in this interesting field, addressing the climate emergency by contributing to a transition to zero carbon energy in a manner that supports society.
The foundation of your career
The ERBE programme will not only support you in developing the technical skills needed to undertake research. Training will develop your understanding of the complexity and challenges of transforming this sector, requiring a multidisciplinary approach, and address the wider societal issues and ethical questions that a transformation of the sector will pose. The ERBE taught programme is complemented by our Energy Demand in Practice seminar series, run by CDT students these aim to explore career options, expand your network and help you understand the skills that employers look for.
The global transition to low carbon energy sources will require significant shifts to the interaction between people, buildings and energy systems. Significant new investment is expected, for example, in the UK the Clean Growth Strategy will support around £3.6bn of investment to upgrade around a million homes; spend £4.5bn to support innovative low carbon heat technologies in homes and businesses; and invest around £184m [including] two new £10m innovation programmes. Graduates of the closely related Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand have found employment in BEIS, MHCLG, IEA, the construction industry, consulting engineering and academia.
You will benefit from numerous opportunities to engage with our stakeholder community, through events such as the Annual Colloquium, which attracts attendees from across the buildings and energy industry, government, NGOs and academia, and our Summer Event. To complement this the annual Student Conference provides an opportunity to meet and engage with research students from across the UK and Ireland. You will also be encouraged to engage with the wider sector and research community through attending conferences and workshops.
Teaching and learning
Students begin their time in ERBE with a residential week at Loughborough University, in which they are introduced to energy resilience and the built environment.
First year students then undertake six taught courses, assessed by coursework and presentations,and one piece of assessed research.
Assessed taught courses are:
Energy economics and policy
Researcher Skills 1
Physics and engineering of the built environment
Socio-technical perspectives: theory and methods
Energy data analysis
Building Energy Modelling
The piece of assessed research is a pilot study, aiming to test the methods proposed in students’ PhD plans. Students must pass all year one taught courses and the first year report (pilot study) to progress on the programme, in addition to the normal MPhil/PhD progression requirements.
Second year students must passtheir MPhil to PhD upgrade 6 months into their second year, to transfer to PhD registration.
Our students are further supported through annual reviews, which are carried out each year with supervisors and CDT directors and provide a point for intervention should the student be struggling or otherwise in need of additional support.
As a research degree the MPhil/PhD programme is largely completed independently, with the support of at least two supervisors. Taught courses in year one require a similar time commitment to MSc modules: you will typically have 20 hours of lectures and class discussion per course, although this varies across the courses, plus you will need to undertake considerable self-study over each term (total time commitment per course is up to 150 hours). After term one, when you will only meet your supervisors occasionally, you will meet them more regularly. In years 2-4 should expect to meet your supervisors at least once every month, ideally every fortnight. You will also receive support from the CDT team, attend events such as our annual colloquium, which is attended by academics, policymakers and industry, and undertake short training courses as required.
As an ERBE student you will take an active role in developing your training, career and supporting others both within UCL and across our partner institutions. You will collaborate to organise events and training that meets your needs. Past examples include careers workshops, skills sharing groups and industry talks.
Research areas and structure
- Flexibility and resilience: the interaction between buildings and the whole supply system, through new generation and storage technology, enabled by smart control systems and new business models.
- Technology and system performance: demand reduction and decarbonisation of the built environment through design, construction methods, technological innovation, monitoring and regulation.
- Comfort, health and well-being: buildings and energy systems that create productive work environments and affordable, clean, safe homes.
ERBE is hosted by the UCL Energy Institute, in the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources (BSEER). The school brings together expertise from four institutes: the Energy Institute, the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, the Institute for Sustainable Resources and the Institute for Sustainable Heritage. You will join one of these institutes to work with academics, researchers and other PhD students, researching a topic that aligns to the ERBE’s core themes, as described above.
You will have the additional benefit of joining the ERBE cohort which cuts across the School and brings you together with students from our partners in Loughborough and MaREI in Ireland. You will work with others within your year group, and across the whole Centre for Doctoral Training, sharing experiences, skills and supporting each other.
ERBE offers a four year MPhil/PhD programme. Year one of the programme provides training to expand your knowledge and understanding of energy and the built environment, in addition to building skills that support your research and career. In addition to starting your research, you will complete six taught courses, enabling those without a background in energy and buildings to transition into this exciting field of study and developing the knowledge and skills of those who join us from a built environment discipline. You will also complete a first year report, detailing your research progress and plans for the remainder of your studies.
In years 2-4 you will focus on your research project, supported by your supervisors. You will also complete short training courses provided by UCL and the CDT in support of your studies and career development.
Following UCL’s route to achieving a PhD, you will initially be registered as an MPhil student and will be transferred to PhD registration following successful completion of the upgrade process, which generally takes place 18 months from your initial registration.
Taught courses contain a small amount of fieldwork, local to London.
Individual research projects may require fieldwork, and students are encouraged to develop projects that align to their interests, in collaboration with their supervisors, the ERBE management team and any external organisations involved in their research.
The ERBE programme works with industry, government and NGOs to support relevant and impactful research. Many students will complete a placement with such an organisation as part of their PhD. Students will be encouraged to work with their supervisors and the ERBE team to pursue a placement, if appropriate to their research.
Fees and funding
Fees for this course
|Tuition fees (2022/23)||£5,690|
|Tuition fees (2022/23)||£23,350|
The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
Students not in receipt of an ERBE CDT scholarship are not eligible for its funding and are expected to fund their participation in the programme through winning a separately funded scholarship, or their own funds. Costs include the required attendance of a one-week intensive residential course (~£1000). Students are likely to also require a laptop (£500-1000), attendance at conferences and workshops (£1000), programme related travel (site visits and teaching, £50 p/a), attending ERBE events with our partners in Ireland and Loughborough (optional, and costs unknown).
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Applicants who have their own source of funding, should email a CV and covering letter, which should include their research interests, to email@example.com . Applications will only be considered for a September intake, to align to the taught courses.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Funding your studies
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Students who are eligible and applying for fully-funded scholarship should apply for advertised opportunities on the ERBE CDT web page. Applicants who do not have sufficient experience of the field to select a specific topic, or who have their own source of funding, should email a CV and covering letter, which should include their research interests, to firstname.lastname@example.org . Applications will only be considered for a September intake, to align to the taught courses.
Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes in any application cycle.
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This page was last updated 28 Sep 2021