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University of Surrey
Sustainability PhD projects in Industry
University of Surrey
The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s top professional, scientific and technological universities. Named as The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year 2016, Surrey has a world-class profile and a leading reputation in teaching and research.
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Published: 2 months ago
Application deadline: Jul 31
Location: Surrey, United Kingdom
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Sustainability PhD projects in Industry

1a - CES-Logo (full colour_transparent)

Projects: Sustainability PhD projects in Industry

Sponsoring organisations: Heathrow Airport Ltd, Keller Group Plc, National Composites Centre UK, Surrey Nature Partnership, Costain Ltd

The Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability offers the opportunity to achieve a doctoral level degree while gaining invaluable research experience in a prestigious organisation.  Aimed at high-achieving researchers and graduates whose vision is to become a sustainability leader in industry, our unique programme combines in-depth industry experience with relevant academic study. 

Project Overviews


Heathrow has a bold ambition as it sets a direction towards a future of sustainable aviation. Its sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0 – sets out stretching objectives in diverse areas such as community wellbeing, climate change and the circular economy.  This project requires a holistic systems thinking approach to realise the challenges set out in the Heathrow 2.0 plans. In general, this approach will need to include the sustainable management of resources (including water and waste), the ability to identify and implement best practice for an expanding, complex multi-stakeholder environment and consideration of the whole life-cycle of Heathrow assets to ensure interventions are targeted at areas to capture the most appropriate  benefits.

  1. NCCUK:

Fibre reinforced polymer composite materials have the potential to reduce through life environmental impact significantly, in particular due to reduced weight, resulting in lower fuel consumption and improved corrosion resistance, resulting in less maintenance and longer life.  A body of work is necessary in drawing together the key factors that affect LCA in products and more specifically composites and produce a series of guidelines that can be based on the ISO 14000 series. In particular, communication should focus on the different “entry levels” of LCA moving from the simplified client versions such as LCA Calculator or CES to the advanced database packages such as GaBi and SimaPro. This will be followed up by a series of talks and training events for the composites industry in order to enable this material to be widely implemented.

  1. KELLER:

The Sustainable Development goals (SDG’s) have the potential to provide a framework for sustainability across all industry sectors.  For construction, the contribution towards carbon reduction, a key facet of the SDG’s, is well evidenced, but much of the research has focussed on what happens above ground.  This project will focus on the benefits that could be realised from the ground engineering sector; which includes geotechnical solutions such as heavy foundations and ground improvement.


At Blackwell and through using the ancient woodlands as an anchor for a wider environmental project, we have a unique opportunity. This Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability project will develop significant knowledge and insight, and publish results of environmental and social research for the benefit of the development and the (new and existing) local communities.  The post holder will engage with professional environmental bodies (local and national), local and regional government, research and academic colleagues at the University of Surrey and the nearby local community, who would also have full involvement and engagement with the project and its outcomes.

     5. COSTAIN:

Costain’s goal is to develop innovative- engineering based solutions across the UK’s energy, water and transportation infrastructures.

Circular economy has the potential to transform our industry through use of revolutionary material, business models and technologies. This project would contribute to Costain’s mission through the creation of opportunities to support circular economy business models delivered by Internet of Things.

The focus of this project will be to identify key areas for Costain’s industry to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy and to develop trials to put these theories into practice. The successful candidate will work with the various stakeholders in the business to assess the lifecycle needs, both in terms of the contract and assets, to research the use of IoT in the infrastructure sectors. This will include detailed analysis and recommendations on the economic value that can be derived from a circular model.

Person specification

  • 1st/2:1 in either an Applied Science discipline, any Engineering discipline or Environmental degree
  • An MSc or at least 2 year’s work experience outside of academic institutions is desirable
  • A passion for the environment and sustainability essential
  • Confident in communication with all levels of staff and management
  • Self-directed and motivated worker


All applications must include ALL of the following documentation to be considered:

  • Up to date cv
  • Cover letter including why this project is of interest and how your experience and interests make you a suitable candidate.
  • Degree certificates and transcripts
  • References – 2x academic references or 1x academic reference and 1x other reference

For an application pack or all enquiries, please email

Key Dates and Information

All projects are due to begin on the 1st October 2018. The successful candidates will spend an initial 11 weeks in Guildford, UK undertaking intensive sustainability and personal development training, after which they will be predominately based on-site at their project sponsor. 

The programme will run for three to four years.

The successful candidate will receive a generous stipend of £18,000 per annum throughout this time (with potential to increase to c. £20,000 per annum after two years). Stipends are usually tax-free and DPs will also benefit from an additional £500 p.a. allowance for attendance at conferences etc. In addition to this, full-time tuition fees (£4,195) will be covered at the current Home/EU rate for the duration of the programme. 

The deadline for applications is between 21st May and end of July.  Further details about the projects available can be found on our website under the ‘fees and funding’ tab:

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