SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

PhD opportunities in 2019

This is the list of SPRU faculty taking on new PhD students in 2019 - their research interests and projects.

We invite you to take a look at project-specific PhD positions available for September 2019 entry, as listed below. These PhD positions are available on topics with specific SPRU supervisors, into which you will have independent intellectual input. 

We also welcome research proposals from prospective students but encourage you to link this to individual faculty interests and get in touch with members of faculty prior to submitting your research application. Please click on an individual's name to find out about their research interests. 

Allam Ahmed
Project: Knowledge management in business schools
Areas:     Evaluation of the UK economy towards a sustainable knowledge-based economy,  Knowledge management is the key for sustainable development: the role of the youth, Green Behaviour: Re-thinking policy for sustainability,  Understanding sustainable development will solve the problems of sustainable development

Saurabh Arora
Project: Sustainability by Design? Controversies and Agencies in Bioenergy and Biofuel Certification Processes 

Lucy Baker

I am open to proposals that fit broadly within the area of the political economy of energy, the political economy of the low-carbon transition and energy geography, including, but not limited to: (1) The political economy of electricity in low-income and middle-income countries, including sector reform and the introduction of renewable energy policies; (2) Global production networks and renewable energy technologies; (3) The role of finance in determining renewable energy pathways; and (3) Alternative theoretical frameworks to understand the inequalities of energy demand and consumption e.g. systems of provision and ecologically unequal exchange.

Open to proposals in areas of: (1) human dimensions in low carbon transitions, from how we use technology to cultural and behavioural shifts (2) social innovation for sustainability, including social movements, activism and local initiatives for change (3) tensions between the economic growth paradigm and transitioning to sustainability.

Roberto Camerani and Daniele Rotolo
Project: Why do firm publish? Trends, incentives and strategies underlying corporate publishing

Tommaso Ciarli
Project: Innovation and Economic Development under Conflict

Nicholas Dacre
Open to proposals on areas of Digital Innovation, Digital Projects, Digital Transformation, and related aspects of Projects, Innovation Management, and Technology. Particularly interested in applicants focused on developing research on Enterprise Gamification, or broader aspects of Gamification using qualitative or mixed methods approach. 

Adrian Ely
Projects: 1) Biotechnology regulation and governance in China 2) The role of innovation in pathways towards sustainable food security 3) Innovation for Sustainable Agri-Food Systems in the Brighton-Lewes Downs Biosphere

Tim Foxon

Project: Modelling long-term techno-economic change, combining evolutionary economics and ecological economics perspectives and analysing implications for a sustainable low carbon transition.

Tim Foxon and Johan Schot
Project: Transforming the energy sector by the digital revolution 

Paula Kivimaa

Open to proposals in areas of (1) intermediary actors/processes in sustainable innovation, sociotechnical transitions and governance/policy for sustainability; (2) new business models in sustainable buildings or mobility; (3) upscaling/embedding sociotechnical and governance experiments for sustainability, and (4) policy and governance for sustainability transitions. Particularly in empirical domains of climate change, energy, transport, buildings and construction but also open to other domains.

Kat Lovell

Open to proposals for research on innovation in/through infrastructure sectors. Projects could respond to (1) the prevalence and importance of infrastructure in technology and economic policy (2) infrastructure sectors as fruitful sites for studying various aspects of innovation and governance - for example these sectors can provide extreme cases of path depenency, network effects and requirements for inclusivity; they are also key settings for project based organisation of change (3) the central role of technology in these sectors.

Mari Martiskainen
Projects: 1) 
Social innovation in the energy system, 2) Transition to low carbon residential buildings, 3) Politics of grassroots innovations

Alberto Marzucchi
Project 1) Innovation barriers and failures. Outcomes, learning and coping strategies , Project 2) Green technology and firm growth

Caitriona McLeish -
Project: Innovation and improvisation in the chemical weapons regime

Paul Nightingale
Open to proposals for PhD study in areas related to technology strategy, evaluation and design of innovation and science policies, finance, biopharmaceuticals. Particularly interested in applicants with a statistics, natural or life science background with an interest in advanced data analysis techniques.

Matias Ramirez
Projects: 1) Inclusion in emerging agricultural clusters, 2) Regional innovation and development, 3) Social networks and transitions

Karoline Rogge
Open to proposals on transformative policy mixes for sustainability transitions (particularly in energy, mobility, heat and ICT), industrial policy and governing low carbon structural change (incl. phase out policies), politics of transitions, policy making and implementation processes for transitions, policy integration and coordination challenges, and low carbon strategies of companies; open to qualitative and quantitative approaches; open to firm-level, technology-level and system-level proposals

Open to proposals on topics relating to entrepreneurial finance, creative industries, innovation, and STEM and creative skills, as well as policy topics relating to any of the above. Topics of particular interest include 1) Economics of awards and prizes; 2) Measurement systems and their role in innovation and the economy; 3) Access to finance in the creative industries.  
Adrian Smith
Projects: 1) The grassroots appropriation of digital fabrication technologies for social purposes, 2) Hackerspaces, makerspaces and FabLabs – roles (potential and actual) in social development 3) Post-automation.

How to apply 

Please visit our postgraduate application system where you will find further information on the application procedure and can submit an application for postgraduate PhD study.


Please see Scholarships for a list funding opportunities offered by the University of Sussex. These are available on most of the above projects and awarded on a competitive basis. Please see individual grants for eligibility. Please also note that you must apply for a place on the SPRU doctoral programme and separately apply for funding before the funding deadline. Your application for funding will be considered once you are offered a place on the programme.


For all general enquiries about our research degrees please contact our Research and Enterprise team: bmec-pgr@sussex.ac.uk