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Investigating the role of household water use in climate change mitigation and adaptation

   Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering

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  Dr Claire Hoolohan, Prof Carly McLachlan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Manchester United Kingdom Civil Engineering Climate Science Cultural Geography Environmental Engineering Environmental Geography Human Geography Social Geography Urban Geography

About the Project

This PhD explores how social transformation in household water use can contribute to the UK’s transition to Net Zero whilst achieving sustainability and resilience in water systems.

Though climate change is at the forefront of international politics, it is clear that critical targets will be missed without fundamental changes to everyday life. UK water companies have committed to reducing emissions and achieving Net Zero by 2030, however as they do not yet have an aligned strategy for reducing residential water use (which accounts for 90% of water-related emissions). This project contributes by exploring demand management options with people, policy-makers and water companies, taking a co-productive approach that ensures the research informs decision-making across the sector.

The successful candidate will pursue the following research objectives:

  • Characterise the relationships between water demand and UK emissions.
  • Synthesise findings from social science research (e.g. on social practices, socio-technical transitions and sustainable consumption) to identify system-wide opportunities for intervention and estimate emissions reduction potential.
  • Critique existing plans for Net Zero in the water sector.
  • Work with the public and industry stakeholders to develop a pathway for water demand reduction in the UK.
  • Optional: develop an international agenda on climate change and water demand management, connecting to debates in geographic areas including South Africa, Australia, California and the global south.

The successful candidate will benefit from a place within the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation, world-leading centres for interdisciplinary climate change research. The candidate will have access to unrivalled specialist expertise and opportunities to develop transferable skills to enhance their future employability. In addition, the University of Manchester offers an extensive training package to support effective completion.

Candidates will ideally have an MSc (merit or higher) in geography or social science, or a high 1st class degree and ability to demonstrate advanced written and analytical skills. An interest in one or more of the following: climate change, low-carbon lifestyles, environmental governance, socio-technical studies, practice theories, environmental politics, and sustainability transitions is desirable. Training and experience with both qualitative and quantitative research methods is desirable. Additional University of Manchester entry requirements for PhD research degrees can be found at:

This research will take place within a highly interdisciplinary research centre, candidates are encouraged to apply from all academic backgrounds and will have the opportunity to steer the direction of the research.

The successful candidate will ideally start by Sept/Oct 2021. Please send a CV and cover letter to [Email Address Removed] before making a full application to the University of Manchester. 

As an equal opportunities employer, we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons. As the School is committed to the principles of the Race Equality Charter Mark and Athena SWAN, we would particularly welcome applications from women and the black and minority ethnic (BME) community, who are both currently under-represented at this grade. All appointments will be made on merit.

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year studentship covers tuition fees at the Home fee rate and provides a tax-free stipend at the standard UKRI rate (£15,609 in the 2021/22 academic session). EU students who hold settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and meet the eligibility requirements for Home fees can also be considered. EU and overseas students liable for the higher International fee rate can apply but will need to source additional funding themselves to cover the difference between the tuition fee rates. Self-funded students interested in a relevant topic are also welcome to contact the supervisory team.
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