PhD: Retrofitting space heating systems for historic churches: meeting the needs of conservation, community and environmental sustainability

University College London

Historic churches are facing significant challenges in recent years in meeting increasingly demanding “quality of life” standards whilst they are used in broadening and hosting social engagements within the community. To put this in context, the Church of England owns over 15,000 churches. Of these, 78% are listed (45% of the Grade I listed buildings in England), of which over half actively host some form of community activity. The environmental thermal requirements of modern activities in historic churches are often in conflict with the original nature of these buildings, their historic connotation, the building materials, and in meeting user comfort while at the same time presenting and aligning to the concepts of a sustainable society. The demand for solutions becomes even more critical when such buildings are faced with renovating their building services, usually due to a need to either preserve the building or achieve required comfort conditions to continue to sustain its occupation. This research aims to address this challenge by generating new knowledge to enable the evaluation and implementation of space heating technologies in historic churches, thereby increasing the environmental and social sustainability of the building while taking into consideration relevant constraints such as the preservation of the structure and artefacts as well the anticipated community activities.

Full information about the project can be found at:

Academic criteria: Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree and/or excellent grades in a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline such as engineering, architecture, science or physics. Previous knowledge in building performance, building services engineering or environmental modelling will be an advantage.

Training path: The student will be part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training SEAHA (Science and Engineering for Arts, Heritage and Archaeology). Students will start PhD study at Brighton in January 2018, transfer to UCL in Sept 2018 for the one-year MRES before returning to Brighton for the remainder of their PhD.

Enquiries: Contact the academic supervisor, Dr Kenneth Ip (

Funding: UK/EU fees and stipend of max £18,172 per year (current rate) for eligible applicants and a budget for research, travel, and cohort activities. Non‐EU applicants are not eligible for funding.

Application deadline: 09:00 Monday 20th November 2017                                                       

Starting Date: January 2018

To apply:

Please submit applications by email directly to the SEAHA Administrator at Brighton, Corinna Hattersley-Mitchell and not via the UCL admissions system. Please email applications to:

Your application should include:

  • A substantial covering letter (2-3 pages) including:
    • a clear explanation of your motivation for applying for this project
    • a statement of your understanding of your eligibility according to criteria specified by SEAHA and the EPSRC.
  • A short research proposal (max. 2000 words) taking into consideration the project research questions
  • A full CV
  • Contact details for two academic references (names, postal and email addresses)
  • Proof of meeting the UCL English language proficiency requirements where necessary.

Interviews are likely to take place in Brighton the week commencing 27th November 2017. Please mention if you will not be available at this time. Remote interviews (e.g. via skype) are possible.

Nb. Applicants are advised to check they meet all criteria for the MRes course at UCL to which they will apply during their first few months of their study at Brighton.

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role: