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Architects as Educators: Reconsidering the role of design professionals in owner-occupier low-carbon retrofit (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/ABE/TIPWOOD)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

In industrialized countries like the UK, residential buildings consume almost one third of the total energy supply. Combined with the low rate of housing replacement in many developed countries, this makes rendering the existing housing stock more energy efficient, essential to reducing the CO2 emissions from buildings.

More specifically, owner-occupied homes, which account for 64.9% of housing in the UK, pose particular problems as the adoption of low carbon retrofit measures is almost entirely at the discretion of owner-occupiers. Therefore, policies and incentives to encourage the adoption of low carbon retrofit measures have targeted these owner-occupiers directly, assuming an information deficit model of education and behaviour change. However, many owner-occupiers report relying heavily on the expertise of the architects they employ, particularly when it comes to unfamiliar technologies. This challenges this information-deficit model, suggesting that architects play an important role in constructing owner-occupier confidence and expertise in low carbon home improvements.

This research will move beyond information deficit models of education and behaviour change to bring contemporary social and pedagogical theory to bear on the role that architects play in owner-occupier construction of meanings and competences associated with low carbon retrofit. This research will closely align with Northumbria University’s Environmental and Global Justice multi-disciplinary research theme, and applications from diverse disciplinary backgrounds are welcomed.

The PhD project will develop methods to capture, and analyse the various architect/owner-occupier interactions through which meanings and competences associated with the home, and low carbon additions to the home, are constructed, reconstructed, and adapted. The candidate will become skilled in the use of social research methods, such as interviews, observations, ethnography, or discourse analysis.

The findings will generate new perspectives on the role the architectural profession can play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from private dwellings, helping to address the critical issue of climate change.

This project is supervised by Dr Tara Hipwood. The second supervisor will be Dr Peter Holgate.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/EE/ABE/TIPWOOD) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020

Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU/ Worldwide students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Dr Tara Hipwood:

T. Hipwood, (2018). Intersections between home improvements and health: An owner-occupier’s perspective. AMPS, Health: the design, planning and politics of how and where we live. Bristol 25-26th January 2018.

R. Hurdley, M. Biddulph, V. Backhaus, T. Hipwood, and R. Hossain (2017). Drawing as Radical Multimodality: Salvaging Patrick Geddes’s Material Methodology. American Anthropologist. Vol. 119 (4), pp. 748-753. (Impact factor: 1.605)

T. Hipwood, (2015). Identifying owner‐occupier’s motivations to undertake energy‐efficient housing retrofit: The case for ontological impartiality. Nordic Environmental Social Sciences. Trondheim 9th-11th June 2015.

T. Hipwood and P. Sassi. (2014). Development of a framework for the process of decision-making and the analysis of incentive schemes within the context of sustainable building. World Sustainable Building. Barcelona 28th-30th October 2014.

R. Gupta, L. Barnfield and T. Hipwood. (2014). Evaluating the impacts and effectiveness of community-led energy renovation of owner-occupied houses on energy behaviours. Building Research and Information. Vol. 42 (4), pp. 446-461. (5 year Impact Factor: 2.156)

Dr Peter Holgate:

P. Holgate. (2019). Embedding Professionalism in the Architectural Curriculum. In: A. Jones & R. Hyde, (2019) ‘Defining Contemporary Professionalism: For Architects in Practice and Education’. London; RIBA Publication

M. Mullan, J. Darbyshire, P. Holgate, J. Trueman, and S. Darcy. (2016) Designing with care: hospice design since 1980. In: People, Partnerships and Potential, 16-18 November 2016, Liverpool.

P. Holgate. (2015). Developing an Inclusive Curriculum of Architecture for Students with Dyslexia. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, Volume 14, Number 1, 1 July 2015, pp. 87-99(13)

P. Holgate and R. Sara. (2014). Towards a Scholarship of Learning in Architectural Education. Charette, 1(1), pp. 146-155.

Z. Alwan, P. Jones, and P. Holgate. (2017) Strategic sustainable development in the UK construction industry, through the Framework of Strategic Sustainable Development, using Building Information Modelling. Journal of Cleaner Production, 140 (1). pp. 349-358. ISSN 0959-6526

K. MacKinnon, J. Salter and P. Holgate. (2013). The Toughened Glass Ceiling: Women in Architectural Education in 2012. Built and Natural Environment Research Papers’, 5(1), pp. 5-12

P. Holgate. (2008) Assessment for learning in architectural design programmes. Northumbria Working Paper Series: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Built and Virtual Environment, 1 (2). pp. 194-208. ISSN 1756-2473

G. Hudson, A. S. Mace. and P. Holgate. (2003) The Design and Construction Process Implications of the Air-tightness Requirements of the Building Regulations Part L2. In: 2003 CIBSE/ASHRAE Conference - Building Sustainability, Value & Profit, 24-26 September 2003, Edinburgh.

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