PhD Studentship: Psychological and Social Factors in New Types of Energy Generation: The Case of Deep Geothermal

University of Plymouth - School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science

Director of Studies: Professor Iain Stewart [e:, tel.: 01752 584767]

2nd Supervisor: Dr Sabine Pahl [e:, tel.: 01752 584847]

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on October 1st 2017.

Project Description

This PhD project will explore the nexus between the social and behavioural sciences and geosciences through a focus on public perceptions of, and attitudes to, deep geothermal energy. The candidate will be able to shape the PhD studies but research questions are likely to include people’s risk and benefit perceptions of different energy technologies and the wider psychological and social influences, including local and social identity, connectedness to nature, environmental attitudes, etc.

The PhD will draw on theories of risk perception and behaviour change, integrating social and cognitive psychology approaches with a strong interdisciplinary perspective, and explore novel ways of communicating, potentially using social media and apps. You will be working with Prof. Iain Stewart Earth Science and Dr Sabine Pahl Psychology , who both have a strong track record of interdisciplinary collaborative research funded by ESRC, NERC, Defra, and EU.

We are looking for a highly motivated, hard working person who is both collaborative and open-minded in their approach. The candidate should have good quantitative skills and knowledge of relevant social and cognitive research and a range of research methods as well as a broad understanding and/or interest in the energy field. The position would suit a Psychology or other Social Science graduate who wishes to apply their training to a real-world challenge. Natural Sciences graduates who can demonstrate an interest in the social dimension and who would be able to pick up behavioural theories and research skills quickly are also encouraged to apply.


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification and/or practical research experience.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £14,553 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between Home/EU and overseas tuition fee rates approximately £10,350 per annum .

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Iain Stewart [] or Dr Sabine.Pahl []. Applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for research degrees at Plymouth University is available at:

Please apply via the online application form which can be found at: and click ‘Apply’.

Please mark FAO Sharon Healy and clearly state you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science. Please attach a covering letter detailing your suitability for the studentship, CV, and 2 academic references.

For more information on the admissions process contact Sharon Healy [].

The closing date for applications is midnight on 28th August 2017. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview week commencing 11th September 2017. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer by 30th September 2017 should consider their application has been unsuccessful.

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