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Malcolm Wicks Memorial Fund (MWMF) PhD Scholarship. A fully funded PhD studentship focussing on the role of the built environment in tackling fuel poverty and the transition to Net Zero


   Welsh School of Architecture

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  Prof Joanne Patterson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) at Cardiff University have secured a ‘Malcolm Wicks Memorial Fund’ (MWMF) PhD Scholarship. This provides the WSA with the opportunity to form a partnership with the leading energy efficiency and fuel poverty organisations Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS) and National Energy Action (NEA) alongside two leading UK Universities who have also secured support through the MWMF in its inaugural year.

This PhD scholarship will contribute towards the significant gap in knowledge and advances policy/practice aligned with efforts to tackle fuel poverty and the low carbon transition in the UK with the built environment at its core. The specific PhD title and focus is open for discussion but should involve the built environment and one or more of the following:

·      Social justice, fairness and just transitions;

·      Net Zero/Low carbon transition;

·      Health and housing/energy;

·      Decarbonisation of heat;

·      Energy affordability and vulnerability.

 A possible topic for investigation would be to investigate the potential to plan, design and implement a whole energy system retrofit for low rise flats relevant to the UK, to reduce fuel poverty, improve the quality of the built environment and to reduce carbon emissions.

Throughout the scholarship you will benefit from specialist professional industry- and policy-focused support from colleagues at AWS and NEA who will act as non-academic supervisors. There will also be opportunities through these partnerships for fieldwork, dissemination and networking identified by AWS and NEA that will be available throughout the candidature. Two other PhD scholarships funded under the MWMF are planned with the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit at Salford University and the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University. This will enable collaborative support with peers undertaking PhDs with the opportunity to engage with a wider group of academics across the topics above.  

As a PhD student you will be based at the WSA at Cardiff University, a world-leading and agenda-setting school of architecture in Cardiff that combines a strong tradition of architectural education with an international reputation for research excellence. We provide a vibrant, collaborative environment for teaching and research; our students and staff communities encompass diverse national, cultural and professional backgrounds. We foster a strong studio culture, encouraging student architects to confront complex situations and issues with intelligence and creativity.

While the School has always been based in the Bute Building in Cathays Park, this long-standing home has recently undergone a major redesign and refurbishment. As well as design studios for undergraduate and postgraduate students, it provides many different types of teaching and learning spaces, a dedicated zone for craft and digital fabrication, a hybrid studio, a ‘Living Lab’ (a space where academics, communities and industries can work on collaborative projects) and a new auditorium for hosting symposia and conferences.

Our research spans the physical sciences, social sciences, humanities and design to foster excellence in key areas of architecture, urban design and the built environment. Our internationally recognised academics work closely with our thriving postgraduate research community on many research projects which have a significant impact on the built environment and the profession, developing innovative building practices, changing behaviours and creating sustainable design solutions. We have productive research links with practice, industry and with universities in other countries. We also work closely with local communities to enable the sharing of our expertise to achieve common goals.

The application process will involve an in-depth interview, likely requiring an oral presentation. This will be led by the university partner with AWS and NEA involved throughout this process, contributing, where appropriate, to tasks such as: reviewing applications, interview panel and supporting the decision to select the successful applicant. 

Person specification/Academic criteria

Suitable for graduates in architecture, planning, engineering, social sciences, computer science and environmental sciences with a first or an upper second class honours degree. Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each skills component.

Start Date

Preferred start date 1st October 2022. It may be possible to start in January 2023.

 How to apply

A completed Cardiff University application form for admission to doctoral study in WSA (Architecture - Study - Cardiff University) to be submitted by 12:00pm GMT on 12 August 2022. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted. Please note that interviews will be held shortly after the deadline.

In the funding section, please select “I will be applying for a MWMF PhD scholarship”

The application must contain the following documents:

1          Covering letter: addressed to Professor Joanne Patterson. The covering letter must name the studentship being applied for and must address the following:

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

·      How your research will provide a novel contribution to enhancing knowledge and understanding of how to address the challenge of the role of the built environment in tackling fuel poverty and the transition to Net Zero;

·    How this will address the relevance and applicability of your proposal to policy and/or practice;

·    a brief summary of theoretical/methodological approach that you could take;

·    what your expected outcomes and aspirations from research findings would be;

·    overview of how the grant will enable you to achieve these.

The covering letter should be no more than 2 pages.

 2     Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, include proof of English Language Competency.

 3     References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.

 4     Curriculum Vitae: no longer than two pages.

 5     Research Proposal: up to a maximum of 2 pages, not including bibliographic references.

Please contact Professor Joanne Patterson ([Email Address Removed]) for further information

Interviews are expected to be held shortly after the deadline via Zoom. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. As part of the interview process, applicants will be asked to give a short presentation on their experience and suitability and answer panel questions. 


Funding Notes

The Scholarship will cover tuition fees at the home rate (£4,596 in 2022/3) and an annual stipend equivalent to current UKRI rates (£16,062 stipend for academic year 2022/3), plus support for travel/conferences/consumables (£1,200) for 3 years. The Scholarship is available to home and international students. Please note that international students will be charged the fee difference between the UK and international tuition fee rate each year.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning?


Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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