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University of Bath URSA project: Tackling Scope 3 emissions in the construction sector using hybrid life cycle assessment

   Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

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  Dr Stephen Allen  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition.


Companies in many sectors, including construction, are trying to estimate and reduce their carbon footprint. At a company level, this is usually broken down into Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions (see Scope 1 and 2 relate to the energy use by the company, which is relatively easy to measure. Scope 3 is ‘everything else’, including all the emissions caused upstream in a company’s supply chain. 

Scope 3 emissions are notoriously difficult to estimate but can dominate a company’s carbon footprint. There are two main approaches for estimating Scope 3 supply chain emissions: “top down” (based on input-output tables) or “bottom up” (based on engineering and emissions data for individual processes, such as manufacturing or transport). Top-down approaches are more complete, but they are broad averages for whole sectors and they are not necessarily representative of specific companies or products. Bottom-up approaches provide much better specificity but suffer from incompleteness or poor data availability. 

Hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) seeks to make the most of each approach by combining the two (Crawford et al, 2018). However, while there is a long history of hybrid methods, they have not yet widely used. 

This PhD will develop a hybrid LCA method for the UK construction sector. Building on process-based (“bottom up”) LCA research in our group at Bath, there will be opportunity to join ongoing collaboration with the Prof. John Barrett and the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds. Prof. Barrett’s group produce the UK’s “top down” carbon footprint dataset for the UK economy (an official national statistic). 

About us

The Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering was ranked joint first in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning unit of assessment. Overall, 90% of our research activity was graded as either world-leading or internationally excellent. You will join an inter-disciplinary research group working in LCA, sustainable construction materials and low-carbon building design. You will form part of a vibrant research community including two leading centres: the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, and the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement by February 2023 in order to be considered for funding.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged! Direct these to Dr Stephen Allen - [Email Address Removed]

Please make a formal application should via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements:

  • UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and strive to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We encourage applications from under-represented groups. In particular, we are welcoming applications from candidates with Refugee, Asylum Seeker, or Humanitarian Protection in the UK to our Doctoral Sanctuary Studentship in Engineering and Design.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

The Disability Service ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided the support that they need. If you state if your application that you have a disability, the Disability Service will contact you as part of this process to discuss your needs.


Architecture; Built Environment; Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Construction Management; Energy Technologies; Environmental Engineering; Manufacturing Engineering; Software Engineering; Urban Planning; Structural Engineering; Systems Engineering; Thermodynamics; Engineering Mathematics

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University of Bath (URSA) studentship tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a £1000/annum training budget.
As URSA studentships only cover the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate, Overseas students are not eligible to apply. Are you an Outstanding Overseas student (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who is interested in this project? If so, please contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.


Crawford, R. H., Bontinck, P. A., Stephan, A., Wiedmann, T. O., & Yu, M. (2018). Hybrid life cycle inventory methods – A review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 172, 1273–1288.
For projects and publications from our group, see page of lead supervisor:

How good is research at University of Bath in Engineering?

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

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