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Designing Innovative Methods of Public Engagement for Climate Change Transition Using National Public Engagement on Nuclear Energy as a Case Study

   School of Social Work, Care and Community

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  Prof John Whitton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD (via MPhil) studentship in the Centre for Sustainable Transitions, at the University of Central Lancashire. The studentship is tenable for up to 3.5 years full time [subject to satisfactory progress]. Both Home/EU and international Applicants may apply but the studentship is at the UK rate -International applicants will be required to cover the difference in Home/EU tuition fees. The studentship will provide an annual stipend of £16,062 per year.

 It is expected the successful applicant will commence September 2022

Project Description:

Designing Innovative Methods of Public Engagement for Climate Change Transition Using National Public Engagement on Nuclear Energy as a Case Study. UCLan Centre for Sustainable Transitions (CST)

The UK Government is responsible for UK energy policy and sets out its current position in the December 2020 white paper, Powering our Net Zero Future’ (BEIS, 2020). The paper highlights the need to address climate change urgently and sets out the strategy for wider energy systems, to achieve the UK’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In addition to new nuclear power stations, the white paper also considers other low carbon energy supplies, announcing an expansion to renewable energy capacity (wind and solar). Nuclear fusion is also included – with the aim to build a commercially viable fusion power plant by 2040. As a substitute for petroleum fuels in the Climate Transition, large quantities of energy will be required to produce green hydrogen for transportation, industrial processes and heating applications, if the UK is to reach the net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.

The government has also set out its strategy to help the UK achieve energy security and its target of net zero: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-energy-security-strategy. This strategy includes a significant increase in nuclear generation to provide 25% of the UK’s electricity by 2025. It includes a continuing and future role for nuclear energy generation, also a potential role for Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs), which consist of new nuclear technologies. The Government’s position is that additional new nuclear power stations are required and it intends to bring at least one further large-scale nuclear power station to a final investment decision by the end of the current parliament. Large scale energy infrastructure development will be required to accommodate the changes. Democratic and equitable engagement will be crucial if these technologies are to be appropriately considered by the public and a range of civic and industry stakeholders.

This PhD project will:

  • Establish current engagement best practice across a range of energy related technological settings.
  • Conceptualize methods of engagement for large scale energy technology-based infrastructure projects.
  • Design and trial innovative public engagement methods with a range of participants, such as those that cross academic and practice-based settings, disciplinary boundaries (such as co-production) and industry and regulatory settings.
  • Identify the challenges of public perception towards disruptive technologies when carrying out engagement processes and implementing infrastructure projects.
  • Explore the role of cognitive bias and changes in participant bias under different decision-making rules and scenarios, such as alternative energy sources, fuel types and waste disposal alternatives.

The PhD will be co- supervised by the Environment Agency (EA), the independent environmental regulator in England. The student will be expected to spend time at relevant EA offices. Public engagement is planned as part of EA’s regulatory approach and the student will have the opportunity to be involved as part of their fieldwork.

Further information

Informal project related enquiries about the post can be made to Prof John Whitton at [Email Address Removed].

For full details go to:


 Please apply using the following link, quoting the studentship reference number DTC027:


For any other queries, please email [Email Address Removed]. 

Closing Date: 24th June 2022

Proposed Interview Date: TBC


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