PhD Research Position: “Societal engagement methods focussing on improving the resilience of low-income households” (ERBE Centre for Doctoral Training)

Closing Date for Applications: 6th January, 2021

University: University College Cork

Research Centre: MaREI, the SFI Centre for Climate, Energy and Marine & Energy Resilience in the Built Environment, Centre for Doctoral Training (ERBE CDT)

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time
Job Type: Research
Salary: €18,500 stipend per annum. Fees and research related travel are covered by the grant.

Duration and Start Date: 4 years – Spring 2021



What is ERBE?

The ‘Energy Resilience in the Built Environment’ (ERBE) CDT represents an exciting partnership between MaREI (Ireland), University College London (UK), and Loughborough University (UK)  that is funded through the SFI-EPSRC ‘Centres for Doctoral Training’ (CDT) Programme. The CDT will provide students with a deep understanding of buildings, low and zero carbon technologies and the socio-technical context.

The CDT promotes excellence in research through the training of cohorts of doctoral students and the fostering of collaboration between UK and ROI based researchers. ERBE will train innovative leaders with the necessary skills to transform the relationships between buildings and the energy system, providing sustainable, affordable, and healthy places to live and work.

We are seeking student applications for the project: “Societal engagement methods focussing on improving the resilience of low income households” which will be under the supervision of Dr. Ger Mullally, UCC. This position will be based in UCC. 

Project Outline

Energy poverty is largely a blindspot within current energy and climate policy in the UK and Ireland. This PhD proposal focuses on improving the resilience (energy resilience and broader resilience) of low-income households, while also raising levels of comfort, health and well-being for the families living in these households. Energy poverty affects 20% – 30% of households in the UK and Ireland, depending on the method used to measure it. Upgrading and retrofitting homes has a key role to play in addressing this.

This PhD approaches this challenge in a novel way, by deliberately focussing on developing and applying new societal engagement methods focussing on the homes (i.e. families) rather the houses (i.e. buildings). The societal engagement will target those experiencing energy poverty and will explore with them the solutions for addressing energy poverty. It will build on and further develop the research methods developed through recent EU H2020 ENTRUST project and the EPA funded Imagining 2050 project.

How do I Apply?

 Please submit your CV & motivation statement to ei.ccu@ebre by Wednesday 6th January, 2021.

Your CV must include the following:

  • Undergraduate Degree & Award (Title & Award)
  • Postgraduate Degree & Award (if applicable) (Title & Award)
  • Postgraduate Thesis Title (if applicable)
  • Any Research Experience
  • Any publications to date

The Motivation Statement (max 500 words) must outline your motivation for pursuing a PhD on this research topic and why you are particularly suited to this research proposal and programme.

What is the focus of this PhD Studentship?

The ERBE CDT PhD Programme will provide the knowledge, research and transferable skills to enable outstanding graduates from physics to social sciences to pursue research in one of three themes:

  1. Flexibility and resilience: the interaction between buildings, both domestic and non-domestic, and the whole energy system, through new generation, storage, and energy efficiency technology, enabled by smart control systems and new business models.
  2. Technology and system performance: demand reduction and decarbonisation of the built environment and its utilisation through design, construction methods, technological innovation, cyber-physical monitoring and control systems and regulation.
  3. Comfort, health and well-being: building, energy, and ICT systems that create productive and efficient work and operational environments and affordable, clean, safe homes.

What will I be studying?

You will participate in a four-year integrated programme of energy demand research in a whole energy system context. You will be registered in one of MaREI’s seven institutional partners and will be co-supervised by a UK-based investigator.

There are core modules which have been co-created with partners from across industry, government, and academia, and will cover topics such as energy policy and society, energy data and analysis, building modelling, physics of the built environment, and socio-technical theory and methods.

Key to the cohort experience of this PhD programme is the participation in an annual Block Week in Loughborough University; along with a Summer School, Colloquium and a student-led conference, along with participation in events and training specific to your own research.

Who Should Apply?

Key to the success of the ERBE CDT student cohort is the mix of academic and professional backgrounds of its students. Those with a building or energy related discipline background are strongly urged to apply; particularly graduates from the following areas: Social Science, Architecture, Data Analytics, Physics, Materials Science; Computer Science; Mathematics and Engineering. Applicants with other building, manufacturing and energy-related qualifications or extensive industry experience may also apply.

Applications are welcomed from both EU & Non-EU students. For non-EU students, please be advised that there are English language requirements in place which must be adhered to.

Please note that if English is not your first language you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. It is not necessary to submit this at the time of application, but the requirement to provide acceptable proof of English proficiency will be part of any conditional offer that you receive. If you have already achieved the required English proficiency score, you should upload your English proficiency certificate and scores along with your other documents in the upload section of your application.

MaREI Centre

MaREI is a key research centre within UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is an internationally recognised Institute for environmental research dedicated to the understanding and protection of our natural environment and to developing innovative technologies, tools and services to facilitate a transformation to a zero carbon and resource efficient society. The MaREI Centre is an SFI funded research centre headquartered in the ERI and includes 11 other Universities and Third Level Institutes from across Ireland, has 50 industrial partners and has research funding of approximately €60m. It combines the expertise of a wide range of research groups and industry partners, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical and socio-economic challenges across the climate, energy and marine spaces.  MaREI is also funded by SEAI, EI, EPA, ERDF, EU, HEA, Marine Institute, DCCAE and IRC, as well as through contributions from our industry partners. Researchers in the MaREI Centre have over 30 years of experience in conducting fundamental and applied research supported by competitively won national and international funding, and commercial contracts with government agencies and industry. MaREI’s strengths lie in the multi-disciplinary nature of its research teams, allowing it to combine insights across areas such as MRE Technologies, Materials & Structures, Observations & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling and Renewable Energy Management