PhD Studentship Vacancy

Urea-ka! Public and political perceptions of carbon dioxide utilisation (CDU) in the manufacture of urea-based products’

Closing date: March 7th 2016

The Grantham Centre, Departments of Politics, Psychology and Chemical and Biological Engineering are delighted to offer a fully funded PhD research opportunity as part of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable futures (for more information see here).

Picture of the Elmfield buildingThe successful candidate will be an individual who combines outstanding intellect with a strong commitment to public engagement, leadership and action. They will become a Grantham Scholar and be supported through a unique training programme, designed to equip them with the skills to become a policy advocate and leader in sustainability matters. The PhD focus has been specified by an interdisciplinary group of supervisors and we are looking for a candidate with a background in subjects including (although not restricted to): environmental psychology, political science, socio-technical systems, environmental engineering, environmental science. This project will combine a unique range of placements in Parliament and industry, providing the student with a range of expertise and practical experience.

Project Description

Urea-ka! is an interdisciplinary project which seeks to advance understanding of emerging socio-political perceptions of technological advancements in Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU); advancements which could stand to promote the sustainable manufacture of widely-used products, especially urea-based products (e.g. agricultural fertilizers, pesticides).

While technical research and development into CDU is accelerating, there remains little research into the social acceptability (i.e. public, market & political) of the technologies and product options. Without socio-political support, it will be difficult for CDU innovation to secure funding, gain regulatory approval or find sites upon which to operate.

Urea-ka! seeks to systematically address this gap through an interdisciplinary programme of research designed to: (1) triangulate extant knowledge and perspectives, (2) conduct social scientific experiments to develop new understanding and (3) to advocate and communicate the findings. In doing so Urea-ka! will yield new insight into: (a) the nature and antecedents of emerging public opinion of CDU options; and (b) how these opinion data might stand to affect UK (and EU/global) political agenda-setting regarding CDU technologies.

We are looking for a committed, enthusiastic scholar who is willing to operate at the interface of three different, although complementary, disciplines.

Elmfield.gifFurther Project Details

Urea-ka! seeks to promote upstream public engagement with technical advancements in Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU) in order to identify (a) those technological applications ripe for social & economic growth; and (b) the routes by which political change can be affected.

The findings are intended to also hold applied, real-world relevance. For example, in the realm of soil conservation and management, captured CO2 (e.g. from Carbon Capture & Storage, CCS) can be used to accelerate the mineralisation of solid inorganic waste, providing materials for construction (e.g. bricks). This CDU process could be of particular benefit for developing nations (e.g. India), where valuable topsoil is regularly used for such purposes. CDU could thus yield more sustainable sources of construction materials, while retaining valuable topsoil for farming; topsoil that can be further enriched through CDU-derived urea-fertilizers. By better understanding the social and political responses to this (and other) options, Ureaka! will stand to provide guidance on public and political communication and engagement practices relating to CDU.

Urea-ka! capitalises on the combined expertise, networks and experience of 3 supervisors from different departments. The project builds upon emerging strengths and priority areas at the University of Sheffield in CDU/CCS technology (e.g. CDUUK; Energy 2050) and on understanding political process at the technology-policy interface (e.g. Environment & Society Group; Crick Centre). Urea-ka! directly links to existing international, transdisciplinary networks fostering the advancement of CDU technology (e.g. 4CU, CO2Chem, SCOT).

The PhD project will be a genuinely interdisciplinary enterprise. All supervisors will be involved at all stages of the PhD and will integrate the scholar within their respective departments, providing extended support networks and training opportunities where appropriate.

Studentship Details and Application Process

The studentship is tenable for four years from 1 October 2016 and will cover the cost of home/EU and international rate tuition fees.

Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year. Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,335 in 2016/17, rising with inflation thereafter.

Applicants should apply for admission to the Department of Politics PhD programme here.

Applicants should indicate on the application that they wish to be considered for the Grantham PhD Studentship: ‘Urea¬ka! Public and political perceptions of carbon dioxide utilisation (CDU) in the manufacture of urea ¬based products’

Your application for this studentship should be accompanied by a CV and a 200 word supporting statement. Your statement should outline your aspirations and motivation for studying in the Grantham Centre, outlining any relevant experience

The candidate will be supervised by Dr Chris Jones, Department of Psychology, Dr Kate Dommett, Department of Politics and Professor Peter Styring, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Further Information

Enquiries about this studentship opportunity should be directed to Dr Chris Jones at, Dr Kate Dommett at or Professor Peter Styring at Please contact the Politics Graduate School Administrator, Sarah Cooke, at with enquiries about the PhD programme and the application process.

PhD Studentship on ‘Urea-ka! Public and political perceptions of carbon dioxide utilisation (CDU) in the manufacture of urea-based products’

  • Covers  cost of home/EU and international rate tuition fees.
  • Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) at standard rate of £2,627 per annum.
  • Additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.
  • Annual stipend of £17,335 in 2016/17, rising with inflation thereafter.

Closes: March 7th 2016

Apply online

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