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PhD Studentship: Energy Positive Cities: meeting future urban energy needs with Active Buildings

University of Bath - Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 maintenance stipend, Home/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3 years
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 6th February 2019
Closes: 30th April 2019

Supervisory team: Prof David Coley, Dr Steve Allen and Dr Ian Walker

Project enquiries:  Dr Steve Allen (


There is increasing pressure for fossil-fuelled economies around the world to become ‘climate neutral’. In late 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a high-profile report saying net zero carbon dioxide emissions are needed globally by 2045-2055 to limit warming to 1.5degC above pre-industrial levels. In response:

  • the EU has announced aims to be the first major economy to become climate neutral by 2050;
  • the UK government has asked the Committee on Climate Change to prepare advice on climate neutrality at the UK level;
  • at the city scale, Bristol City Council has announced plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Meanwhile, governments around the world aim to provide secure, affordable supplies of energy to their citizens, around 70% of whom are likely to live in cities by 2050 (UN World Urbanization Prospects, 2018).

A critical question is, therefore, how cities can best meet their energy needs over the next few decades. To what extent can they minimise their energy demands and produce their own low-carbon energy? Could they even become energy positive, ‘Active Cities’ that produce more energy than they need? How could this be achieved? Are low-carbon or even carbon-absorbing building materials needed to achieve net-zero emission cities?

This PhD will tackle these questions and form part of the Active Building Centre, a £36million project of the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The successful applicant will form part of a multi-disciplinary team at Bath that includes the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE) and the Department of Psychology, and which forms part of the wider Active Building Centre consortium. 

The specific direction of this PhD project will depend on the interests and expertise of the candidate. One option is to focus at the UK level and consider a real city, using urban energy modelling techniques to examine the feasibility of transforming it into an Active City. A second option is to consider how the Active Buildings could be internationalised, considering where in the world they make most sense. Applicants should indicate their preferred approach in their application and give the reasons for this in their personal statement.


The ideal PhD candidate will have a strong engineering/science/mathematical background and will be familiar with one or more of the following topics: urban energy modelling, building physics, carbon footprinting, material flow analysis, computer programming. However, candidates with other strong numerate skills will also be considered. Experience of, or strong interest in, multi-disciplinary collaboration is also desirable.

Applicants should ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or equivalent overseas qualification).


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering. Please ensure you state the full project title and lead supervisor name.

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019

Funding covers Home/EU tuition fees, maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3 years.

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