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Deep Decarbonisation: The Role of Governance by Evaluation (JORDANAU19ESRC)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, May 16, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The literature on social transformations has blossomed in the last decade. But which actors have the ‘agency’ (Brown, 2013) to shape their direction and speed (Meadowcroft 2009)? In the UK, one body which performs this role is the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). It provides regular assessments of the direction, pace and gaps in decarbonisation. In effect, it engages in a softer, less direct from of ‘governance by evaluation’ (van den Bergh 2011). As the UK embarks upon deep decarbonisation commensurate with 2 and even 1.5 degrees of warming, this PhD project will provide the first ever investigation of the role(s) of evaluation in deep (or transformational) decarbonisation.

Ten years after the creation of the CCC is an opportune moment to address this question. This studentship will be based in a brand new national Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, core funded by the ESRC for up to 15 years, which is part of the world leading Tyndall network of UK universities. The studentship will analyse: 1. the design of the CCC – what evaluation roles was it given and why? 2. Its knowledge production activities – what topics does it evaluate, why and how? 3. The steering roles it performs – who draws on the knowledge it generates, when and with what effect?

By drawing on a range of theoretical literatures concerned with governance (Smith et al. 2005), transformations, policy analysis, knowledge production and utilisation (Jordan and Russel 2014), the studentship will address a significant gap in our understanding of transformations, which has enormous, ‘real world’ policy relevance.

Through documentary analyses and interviews with leading politicians and policy makers, it will enable the successful applicant to develop an unrivalled understanding of how new policies are made: a vital requisite for many jobs. They will learn how to access key policy makers and communicate with different audiences. They will also be able to access the extensive transferable skills training offered by the ESRC SeNSS (South East Network for Social Sciences), with which the studentship is associated.

For more information on the supervisor for for this project, please go here:

Type of programme: PhD

Project start date: October 2019

Mode of study: Full time

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree - Politics, policy analysis, European studies, international relations, public administration, environmental management, geography. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Academic eligibility:
• For 1+3 awards you must have qualifications or experience equal to a first or upper second class honours degree or an equivalent combination of qualifications and/or experience. Applicants without any postgraduate core research methods and research design training will need to apply for this route and undertake a SeNSS approved Masters at UEA. The deadline for application for the PhD and Masters are the same.

• For +3 awards you must have qualifications or experience equal to a Master’s degree at distinction or merit or an equivalent combination of qualifications and/or experience.

Residential eligibility:
SeNSS studentships are only open to candidates who meet the residency requirements outlined in the ESRC Studentship Eligibility criteria.

Further information
• For queries related to applying for a research degree please contact
• For queries related to applying for a master’s degree please contact

Funding Notes

This studentship is associated with the ESRC SeNSS (View Website) doctoral training network. It is available as a +3 (PhD) or a 1+3 (Masters and PhD).

It covers a stipend of £15,009 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, and is available to students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award.


I. Brown, R. et al. (2013) Actors working the institutions in sustainability transitions. Global Environmental Change, 23, 4, 701-718.

II. Jordan, A. and D. Russel (2014) Embedding the concept of ecosystem services? The utilisation of ecological knowledge in different policy venues. Environment and Planning C, 32, 192-207.

III. Meadowcroft, J. (2009) What about the politics? Sustainable development, transition management and long term energy transitions. Policy Sciences, 42, 323-340.

IV. Smith, A. et al. (2005) The governance of sustainable socio-technical transitions. Research Policy, 34, 1491-1510.

V. Van den Bergh, J. (2011) Environmental innovation and societal transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 1, 1-23.

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