Anglia Ruskin University: funded PhD - Future cities: governing low-carbon energy transitions

By Robert Lyons on 12th February 2018
Closing Date: 
Monday, March 5, 2018

Supervisors: Dr Chris Foulds and Dr Rosie Robison, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.

Start date: September 2018, fully funded (annual stipend + fee waiver + additional study expenses) for 3 years.

This fully funded PhD explores the critical conditions for enabling local low-carbon energy transitions, particularly through networks of city local authorities (LAs) across Europe. It is in partnership with Energy Cities – the European Association of LAs in Energy Transition – which is a network organisation with a membership of 1,000+ LAs over 30+ countries.

Despite growing recognition in policy circles that cities represent a fruitful means of addressing energy challenges, research is often dominated by studies on national/international policy or, at least, specific cities in isolation. This PhD thus focuses on questions surrounding the roles, capacities, activities and networks of LA energy policymakers, including (but not limited to):

  • ·              What is deemed as ‘policy success’ in energy transitions, and how does that influence how success is subsequently sought?
  • ·              What communities of practice exist in this space and how exactly do they operate?
  • ·              Which LAs are recognised as leaders and on what terms of reference is that judgement made?
  • ·              What are LAs imagining the energy transition to look like?
  • ·              What sort of evidence is used in the formulation of local energy policies, and why? What are regarded as ‘credible’ local indicators?
  • ·              How do the local, national and international/European agendas interact as part of delivering multi-level governance?
  • ·              How do LAs work together in tackling the energy transition, particularly in terms of collaborating internationally? Role of Brexit?

Energy Cities will provide access to its LA network and allow the PhD researcher to undertake ethnography on one or more of its projects. Additional funding has also been allocated to cover expenses for an extended stay at Energy Cities’ offices. It is through this that participant observation and interview data will be collected, with subsequent insights/recommendations being disseminated to European LAs. Findings will also feed into ARU’s work on the EU platform for energy-related social sciences and humanities (SHAPE ENERGY).

The successful candidate will likely have experience of qualitative research methods and hold a relevant social science Masters.

Further information:

  • ·         This PhD opportunity is part of ARU’s wider Vice Chancellor PhD Studentship programme. More details can be found here.
  • ·         Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Chris ( and Rosie ( to discuss the PhD opportunity further.
  • ·         The annual stipend (paid quarterly) will track RCUK levels across the three years, which is set to be £14,777/year for 2018-2019.
  • ·         Only EU/UK nationals are eligible to apply.

Apply here.