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  Understanding the resilience of trade policies to climate change in facilitating sustainable development

   School of Geography and Environmental Science

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  Prof J Sheffield  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Trade policy between developed and developing states has tended to avoid inclusion of environmental and social justice dimensions. This project will explore the implications of this on the contribution of trade policy to sustainable development, focused on agriculture in developing states, and how policies can be developed to be more resilient to climate change.  

The project seeks to understand the complex connections between trade policy and sustainable development, how climate influences these connections and how trade, via more holistic policy development, can be more resilient in the face of climate change. The project will involve analysis of current policies, focusing on developing states and trade with regional partners and the EU/UK. The connection between trade and climate variability will be analysed to understand how climate affects trade and the impacts of trade on climate mitigation and resource use, such as water. These analyses will be used to develop conceptual models of how trade intersects with sustainable development as climate varies. There will be potential to focus the research on one or more case studies to test the conceptual framework, and to understand how trade policy can be developed to facilitate sustainable development that incorporates dimensions of environmental sustainability (green transition) and economic development for the poorest (social justice transition). 

The project will be co-supervised by academics in the School of Geography and Environmental Science and Southampton Law School to provide the necessary multidisciplinary expertise to help the student develop the project and provide the necessary training. Prof Justin Sheffield provides expertise in climate science and its impacts on agricultural production, use of resources and other environmental impacts. Prof Emily Reid provides expertise in international trade law and connections with sustainable development including environmental policy. The PhD student will sit within a cohort of other students researching a diverse range of topics on important global challenges, and will therefore have opportunities for peer-learning, in addition to the bespoke CDT training programme. 


You will need to have a 2:1 honours undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. If your grade was lower than 2:1 you can still apply, but your application and narrative CV should demonstrate progression since your degree.

If you have completed a master’s degree, you should have achieved a merit or above including 60% for the dissertation. If you have not completed a master’s, you’ll need to show you can produce high quality writing and analysis.


If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. Your awarded certificate needs to be dated within the last 2 years, and you’ll need all of the following scores as a minimum:

Overall 6.5

Writing 6.0

Reading 6.0

Speaking 6.0

Listening 6.0


  • Programme for Interdisciplinary Resilience Studies application document
  • Narrative résumé
  • Standardised CV
  • Academic transcripts/certificates
  • If a student-led application: research proposal document
  • Any other relevant documents (e.g., language certificate, etc)

Economics (10) Environmental Sciences (13) Geography (17) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

Up to six students will comprise each cohort. We will offer:
4 x studentship to UK (or UK-domiciled) students - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI base rates for maintenance and tuition
1 x studentship to an international student - fully funded for 48 months at UKRI maintenance and University international tuition rates
1 x “Master’s + PhD” studentship to an eligible UK (or UK-domiciled) student - fully funded for 60 months at UKRI maintenance and University tuition rates for: 12 months research master’s degree and 48 months PhD
Plus £10k (£2.5k per year) RTSG for the PhD programme.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography and Environmental Studies?

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

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