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MPhil/PhD Energy


Research degrees are awarded for the most advanced level of study available at UCL. The purpose of these degrees is to prove the capacity to organise, carry out and write up a substantial piece of research, presented in a thesis, which demonstrates academic rigour and originality.

UCL-Energy was established as UCL's response to the global challenges of mitigating climate change and providing energy security in the 21st century. Our students work alongside experienced researchers, in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary environment. We select the best students for first-class training and prepare them to launch careers as the energy pioneers of tomorrow.

Programme objectives
The main and final product of the programme of study is the thesis, on the examination of which the result of the degree rests. At UCL there is no public oral examination: the oral examination of the candidate is conducted in private, usually by two examiners (and on occasion a third), at least one of whom is external to UCL and both of whom have read the thesis previously.

The award of an MPhil or PhD is considered proof of competence in the devising and carrying out of a programme of research. A PhD, in addition, is regarded as evidence of originality in thought and critical judgement.

At the end of your studies you will be awarded a UCL Energy Institute Research Degree with a sub category - Energy and ... [the Built Environment, Economics, Engineering, Health, Human Dimensions, Policy, Resources or Transport].

Our first research degree students are only now beginning to graduate. This small group of alumni have gone on to obtain competitive positions as lecturers and postdoctoral researchers within the Institute, other UCL Bartlett departments and other academic institutions and others have entered professional positions at organisations such as the International Energy Agency in Paris.


Study for the MPhil and PhD, whereby students undertake a supervised research project, is offered in all UCL academic departments. PhD students at UCL are required to register initially for the MPhil qualification; the upgrade procedure from MPhil to PhD registration is an important step in your programme.

The MPhil/PhD is normally designed to extend over three years full time, or five years part time. It is also possible to register for an MPhil degree only.

The PhD is assessed through a written thesis of no more than 100,000 words. This thesis must demonstrate the candidate's capacity to pursue original research in the field of study and represent a distinct and significant contribution to the subject, whether through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory, or the revision of older views. It should show the exercise of critical judgement with regard to both the candidate's own work and that of other scholars in the field.

The MPhil is assessed by a written thesis of no more than 60,000 words. This thesis must represent a contribution to the subject either through a record of the candidate's original work or a critical and ordered exposition of existing knowledge.

View a typical timetable for full-time PhD student below.

UCL PhD timeline


Research Themes

UCL-Energy is developing different research themes which, although they are independent areas, also interact, resulting in innovative approaches to energy-related problems.

Choosing a suitable research topic is a crucial decision that will be influenced by:

  • your interests and capabilities;
  • the availability of appropriate supervisors (and other support);
  • the relevance, significance and originality of the topic within the field and its suitability to form the basis of a feasible doctoral research programme.

It is up to you to identify an appropriate topic to research, although students are encouraged to do so in consultation with potential supervisors.

The research proposal you need to prepare is crucial to the decision on your application, since it demonstrates your ability to identify and articulate an independent line of research inquiry. In 1,000 to 2,000 words, you should explain the subject of your proposed research, the questions you hope to answer, why you think this knowledge will be of value, your intended method, and the sources you will use. You should show that you have the ability and experience to carry out the research, and are familiar with the literature and appropriate methods of research. 


Principal Supervisor

The relationship between an academic Supervisor and a research student is a unique one, which evolves over several years to achieve a number of objectives, including:

  • providing you with a thorough grounding in all aspects of research within the context of an academic discipline;
  • creating a learning experience that is intellectually challenging and personally fulfilling within a stimulating and supportive environment;
  • providing academic and pastoral support;
  • ensuring you are able to complete your PhD in a timely manner;
  • preparing you for a range of careers.

Subsidiary Supervisor

Your second supervisor is an additional source of support and advice. They will enhance the effective supervision of your work by contributing a second opinion or additional areas of expertise.


Below is a list of UCL Energy Institute (UCL-Energy) supervisors of MPhil/PhD and MRes projects sorted by Research Theme.


Tadj Oreszczyn
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Andrew Smith (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Catalina Spataru 
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Energy Systems

Gabrial Ananandarajah
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Hannah Daly (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Paul Dodds
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Ilkka Keppo
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Xavier Lemaire
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Neil Strachan
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People & Energy

Lai Fong Chiu (subsidiary supervisor only)
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David Shipworth
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Michelle Shipworth
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Gesche Huebner (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Policy & Law



Mark Barrett
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Andreas Schafer
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Andrew Smith (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Tristan Smith
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Neil Strachan 
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Smart Energy Systems

Mark Barrett
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Cliff Elwell
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Bob Lowe
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Tadj Oreszczyn
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David Shipworth
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Michelle Shipworth
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Catalina Spataru
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UCL-Energy is partner institutes with UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. Potential supervisors include: 

Paul Ekins
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Paolo Agnolucci (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Teresa Domenech (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Matthew Winning (subsidiary supervisor only)
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Below is a list of other UCL Departments who have staff currently part of the supervision team for UCL-Energy core or affiliate students. Please note this list is not exhaustive and our engagement with UCL Departments extends beyond this list. 

UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
UCL Development Planning Unit

UCL Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management
UCL Department of Chemistry
UCL Department of Chemical Engineering
UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering
UCL Department of Civil, Environment & Geomatic Engineering
UCL Department of Physics & Astronomy
UCL Department Economics UCL Applied Mathematics
UCL Department of Geography
UCL Department of Law

Funding Opportunities

How much will I have to pay and can I afford it? Before making contact with a potential supervisor you will need to have considered how you will fund your studies, either by supporting yourself, identifying and applying for studentships and scholarships, or via industrial scholarships.

If you are self-funded, do you have enough money to cover your fees and living costs? For more information about fees and living expenses visit the UCL Information for Prospective Students (Graduate) web pages or the UCL Current Student web pages.

The Bartlett also offers a small amount of competitive Postgraduate Teaching Assistantships for current PhD students. The faculty intends to increase this number so that more students have the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience while earning supplemental income.  PhD and EngD students in their second and third year will be eligible to apply. BSEER also offers teaching opportunities on our postgraduate programmes.

Fees 2016/17

UK/EU: full time, £4,770; part time, £2,385
Overseas: full time, £18,650; part time, £9,550
Please see the tuition fee status procedure for more information.

What funding is available?

If you are not able to fund yourself, the following options may be available:

  • London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Research in Energy Demand studentships are available for eligible candidates each year. You can find more information about funding on the LoLo CDT website
  • Industry-sponsored Studentships. A small number of studentships may be available on specific topics, these are usually advertised on the institute websites and the UCL vacancies pages.
  • UCL Scholarships - Visit the UCL Graduate Scholarships pages for more information about these scholarships. Please bear in mind that you should already have received an offer when you apply for this funding and that nominations can only be made by BSEER.

To keep up to date with future opportunities sign up to our mailing list.

How to apply

Students should have a UK bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, awarded with first-class or upper second-class (2:1) honours, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institute.

For those applicants with a first or 2:1, possession of a master's degree is highly desirable, though not essential; in exceptional cases, where they have other suitable research experience, candidates without a master's degree may be admitted.

In all cases, your application should include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Applicants who have a lower second-class honours bachelor's degree (2:2) must possess a relevant master's degree.

Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships 

You may apply at any time of year, although in some cases an autumn starting date is expected. For some applicants, deadlines for funding applications may be crucial to the timing of your application. 

You should prepare your application well before the date you hope to start. If you are applying from overseas, aim to apply a year in advance and do not leave for the UK until you have received and accepted a formal offer from UCL. 

How to apply

Please read the BSEER Research Degree (MPhil/PhD) application guidance before applying. (UCL-Energy is part of The Bartlett School of Environment Energy and Resources (BSEER)).

Fees 2014/15 

UK/EU: full time, £4,500; part time, £2,250 & Overseas: full time, £16,200; part time, £8,250. Please see the tuition fee status procedure for more information.

Apply here!

UCL Graduate Prospectus

Further guidance email Mae Oroszlany, BSEER PhD Administrator.