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  EPSRC DTP PhD Studentship in Co-designing a Digital Platform for Sustainable Energy use in Schools

   Cardiff School of Geography and Planning

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  Dr Tom Smith  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University are delighted to offer this fully funded EPSRC studentship starting in October 2024.

 Do you want to work at the interface between the social sciences, architecture and computer science? Do you want to co-produce sustainable solutions with children, and build a digital platform that can be used throughout the UK to help children, teachers, architects, and councils become more sustainable through monitoring their local school environment? If so – this PhD is for you!

 Project Summary:

Buildings are responsible of 40% of carbon emissions worldwide. Reducing their energy use is paramount to tackle climate change. Solutions increasingly recognise the importance of sustaining user’s engagement and participation. This PhD will develop innovative ways to engage children and equip them with tools and knowledge to learn about and improve the sustainability of their schools. You will work with an interdisciplinary team to better understand how children experience, and can monitor, their school environment, and co-produce a digital platform with children to gather, monitor and visualise data, enabling more sustainable practices and promoting healthier and more comfortable school classrooms.

Applying citizen-science methods and co-design approaches, you will investigate how children comprehend their own comfort and the implications for energy use and sustainability in their schools. You will experiment with environmental monitoring tools with children, and co-design tools and visualisations for children to engage with and share data. The digital platform will generate a learning tool that can be used widely, for schools, councils, and wider authorities to understand building performance.

The benefits of this PhD project include:

1.      Direct contribution to sustainability, energy use, and meaningfully engaging children in a sustainable future.

2.      Bespoke research methods training in creative, citizen-science methodologies, and co-design of digital platforms.

3.      A suite of specific and transferrable skills for employment in research or industry.

4.      Experience interdisciplinary working across three Schools, drawing on the strengths of each.

5.      Develop your own research profile and expertise through methods design, presentations, and publication outputs.

6.      Engaging with interdisciplinary scholarship, through research seminars, conferences, and events.

Project Supervisors:

Dr Thomas Aneurin Smith, Geography and Planning

Dr Gabriela Zapata-Lancaster, Welsh School of Architecture

Dr Nervo Verdezoto Dias, Computer Science and Informatics

Informal enquiries contact Tom Smith: [Email Address Removed]

 Research Environment:

Cardiff University and the three host Schools offer a world-leading research environment. The interdisciplinary team will support the successful candidate to develop skills across the social, architectural and computer sciences. The team has a proven track-record of collaboration. The methods described have been piloted, and partnerships with primary schools and councils already developed.

The student will benefit from in-School and wider University training opportunities: bespoke methods training, research seminar programme, and twice-yearly PhD ‘Away Days’.

How to apply:

Applications should be received no later than 12 noon (GMT) on 31/03/2024. All applications should be submitted via the online application portal, SIMS –Geography and Planning - Study - Geography and Planning - Study - Cardiff UniversityCardiff University. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview, expected w/c 15/04/2024.

In the funding section, specify that you are applying for this project. Further details on the application process can be found in the “how to apply” section on the School of Geography and Planning page.

The application must contain:

1.     Covering letter (two pages maximum). Include these points as subheadings:

·      Your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University and this PhD project;

·      Detail your academic interests generally and those relating to the project;

·      Drawing on your background, summarise why you are ready to undertake a PhD and how you will flourish with PhD funding. Challenges could include, but not limited to, protected characteristics, socio-economic status, being a prospective first-generation student or care-experienced.

·      Reflecting on your own background and/or approach to study, how will you support diversity and inclusion in the PhD community?

2. Academic CV (two pages maximum)

3. Two references (academic or professional): Applications must be supported by references. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include references with their application.

5. Degree certificates and transcripts (including translations if applicable). International applicants must also include proof of English Language competency (6.5 IELTS minimum).


EPSRC DTP studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students, once the limit has been reached, we are unable to make offers to international students. We are still accepting applications from international applicants.

 International students will not be charged the fee difference between the UK and international rate. Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements. 

 We welcome students with the following experience:

·      An undergraduate or master's degree in Geography, Architecture, Computer Science or relevant subject. 

·      Research interests in one or more of the following areas: children's geographies/education; architecture and building sustainability; human-computer interaction; user experience design; science and technology studies.

·      Previous experience in qualitative field research and/or participatory design and prototyping skills in computer sciences.

Cardiff University is committed to support students from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. We will consider reasonable adaptations (e.g., support caring, disabilities, other significant personal circumstances), flexible working and part‐time study requests, to enable greater access. Please feel comfortable in discussing with the project supervisors.

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

 We welcome applications for both full and part-time study and from candidates with non-traditional academic backgrounds. 

Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Computer Science (8) Geography (17)

Funding Notes

The studentship funded by the EPSRC DTP is for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees, an annual tax-free living stipend of in line with UKRI minimum rates (currently £18,622) and includes access to a Research Training Support Grant (currently £4,000).
If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) on top of your studentship.

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