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Essays on energy, the economy and the environment

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Prof Lester Hunt, Dr Scott Mahadeo  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the Subject Group/School Economics and Finance and will be supervised by Professor Lester Hunt and Dr Scott Mahadeo

The work on this project will involve proposing original and testable research questions in one or more of the following areas:

  • The relationship between energy efficiency, economic and environmental performance;
  • The impact of the energy sector and/or energy transition on the rest of the economy;
  • The drivers of energy market shocks, and their implications for the economic and environmental policies.

Project description

Energy is the apex commodity of the global economy. It is an input in the production process and an important part of the supply chain of commercial firms. Moreover, energy is needed to power households being an important driver of well-being and prosperity. Thus, energy fuels economic performance. Yet, different sectors of the economy have different energy demands. As an economy develops and its structure changes, what are the implications for energy markets and the environment? 

Furthermore, as the world emerges from the global pandemic and the topic of climate change takes centre stage with the net zero targets and COP26 debates, many individuals, firms, and governments around the world are committing to more sustainable sources of energy. Do changing conditions in energy supply (such as the switch from fossil fuels to renewables) and energy cost play a significant role in economic growth? What are the consequences of the link between energy and the economy for the environment? 

As many countries turn to cleaner energy sources, what is the fate of oil-exporting economies in the developing world that already experience a wide range of inter-related economic problems, including:

  • economic development issues such as the resource curse, i.e., the paradoxical inability of resource-rich economies to experience growth outcomes experienced by their resource-poor counterparts (see, e.g., Sachs and Warner, 1995);
  • economic diversification issues such as the Dutch disease, i.e., mechanisms that lead to the loss of competitiveness and contraction of more traditional sectors of the economy when the extractive sector booms (see, e.g., Corden and Neary, 1982);
  • economic policy issues such as commodity boom induced fiscal disequilibrium, i.e., when fiscal policy becomes procyclical with international commodity price cycles, leading to permanent or costly-to-reverse expenditure decisions based on oil revenue windfall gains (see, e.g., Tanzi, 1982).
  • political economy issues such as rise of rentier state mentality, i.e., the rise in natural resource rents reduce accountability and increases corruption, providing the conditions for the dismantlement of democracy and the rise of a kleptocracy (see, e.g., Beblawi, 1987).

We are happy to consider research proposals that aim to provide significant original contributions to some of these challenging questions in the energy-economy-environment nexus.

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in either Economics or Finance, or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements 

We welcome applications from highly motivated prospective students with a passion for energy economics, and who possess econometrics skills and competencies in at least one statistical software package such as EViews, Stata, R, etc.

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Professor Lester Hunt ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Economics PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

When applying please quote project code: AE&F4871023

Economics (10) Finance (14)

Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).


Beblawi, H., 1987. The rentier state in the Arab world. Arab Studies Quarterly, pp. 383-398.
Corden, W.M. and Neary, J.P., 1982. Booming sector and de-industrialisation in a small open economy. The Economic Journal, 92(368), pp. 825-848.
Sachs, J.D. and Warner, A., 1995. Natural resource abundance and economic growth. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series, 5398.
Tanzi, V., 1982. Fiscal disequilibrium in developing countries. World Development, 10(12), pp. 1069-1082.
Further reading
Global Energy Review 2021. International Energy Agency. Available online at:
World Energy Outlook 2021. International Energy Agency. Available online at:
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