3-year PhD studentship on “Innovation and Policy Acceleration” at SPRU, University of Sussex Business School (2024)

   University of Sussex Business School

   Wednesday, April 17, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This 3-year PhD studentship on “Innovation and Policy Acceleration” will explore the potential for using technical innovation, finance, policy change, or even social change to accelerate progress towards tacking pressing social problems such as climate change, energy insecurity, poverty, healthcare, or industrial manufacturing (among others). The studentship may focus on general issues around net-zero societies, or climate change and global health. The studentship forms part of the new Bennett Centre for Innovation and Policy Acceleration, and the successful student will be invited to take part in Bennett Centre meetings and related research and engagement activities.

The department:

The PhD will be based in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School. The Bennett Centre for Innovation and Policy Acceleration aims to be a world-leading research centre focused on bringing about societal impact for the betterment of humanity. Its mission is to accelerate the development of urgently needed policies and practices to tackle society’s greatest challenges.

The research area:

This PhD studentship will explore accelerating policies or other interventions to halt and reverse climate change by bringing together academic research, insights from corporate executives, entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers, and engaging directly with policymakers. The Bennett Centre’s innovative approach thus represents a paradigm shift which will:

•            set a new pace for policy change that is based on scientific evidence gathered, synthesised and provided to policymakers;

•            proactively address the climate crisis with unparalleled speed, whilst retaining scientific rigour;

•            operate with great agility to respond to unforeseen geosocial and political crises arising from climate change, including new patterns of migration and food scarcity;

•            transcend short-term political agendas and party-political boundaries;

•            collaborate with governments and NGOs internationally, to ensure policy change on the global scale required to effectively address these grand challenges.

•            Climate change has major implications for global health, innovations, population health outcomes, in particular and more broader disease conditions and one studentship would likely focus on these issues.

Research excellence will be coupled with shaping policy and impact, with clear and actionable reports directly delivered to policymakers while meetings will be held regularly with key stakeholders. An annual Policy Acceleration Summit will provide a critical platform for the exploration and recommendation of evidence-driven targets, and a review of progress against those targets.

Possible topics for research projects include:

•            changes in sustainability behaviour and practice, both locally and globally;

•            net-zero industry policies in heavy industry, production and manufacturing processes;

•            policies that bring about energy and climate justice, at all scales;

•            conceptualizing “acceleration” and generating a framework for rapid, deep, sustained sociotechnical change;

•            identification of other areas of social importance (food security, poverty, migration, national security) in need of innovation and policy acceleration and techniques to address them.


The PhD studentship is offered for a maximum of three years, renewable on a yearly basis, subject to satisfactory performance on the doctoral degree. The successful candidate will receive a full fee waiver plus a stipend equivalent to the UKRI doctoral stipend, currently £18,622 per annum, paid each year in three termly instalments (typically in October, January and April). In order to prepare students for academic careers, individuals receiving a studentship will be offered the possibility to undertake some teaching and/or marking activities in the School, of up to a maximum of six hours per week during term time, or to apply for any part-time Research Assistant roles that may become available. Any teaching undertaken will be paid at grade 6 of the University’s Doctoral Tutor salary scale in addition to the stipend.

How to apply:

If you are interested in applying for a studentship, you need to first apply for a PhD place in Science and Technology Policy Studies at the University of Sussex Business School, including a research proposal addressing one of the research topics above or a closely related topic. Details of the application process are available here: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/phd/apply.

Contact us:

For general questions relating to the application process, contact . Informal enquiries in relation to ideas for research topics may be made to the Director of the Bennett Institute for Innovation and Policy Acceleration, Benjamin Sovacool (). Please see the full advertisement here for more details.

Environmental Sciences (13) Finance (14) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

The studentship is available for UK/EU and overseas applicants. Applicants should have a minimum upper second class honours degree, and already have, or currently be studying for, a Master’s degree in a related subject, or equivalent qualification if a non-UK applicant. A good level pass is usually required for the Master’s degree. Proof of proficiency in English is also required, i.e., an IELTS certificate taken within the last two years showing at least 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each of the four sections.

Register your interest for this project

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.