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MPhil/PhD Energy at the UCL Energy Institute

Overview

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.

At the UCL Energy Institute, students work alongside experienced researchers in a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment. The best students are hand picked for first-class training and prepared to hit the ground running 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].

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

Structure

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

Content

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. See the attached tips for further guidance.

Supervisors

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.

Staff

Below is a list of UCL Energy Institute (UCL-Energy)  supervisors of MPhil/PhD and MRes projects. You can also search for supervisors by Research Theme.

Principal Supervisors

Mark Barrett
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Paul Dodds 
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Cliff Elwell
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Paul Ekins
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Bob Lowe
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Tadj Oreszczyn
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Paul Ruyssevelt 
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Andreas Schafer
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Michelle Shipworth 
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David Shipworth 
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Catalina Spataru 
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Tristan Smith 
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Neil Strachan
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Subsidiary Supervisors

Gabrial Anandarajah 
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Javier de Cendra
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Ilkka Keppo 
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Xavier Lemaire
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Andrew Smith
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Affiliate

Below is a list of supervisors in other UCL Departments who are 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. For further information see our affiliate activity page.

Adriana Allen
UCL Development Planning Unit (DPU)
View Adriana's profile

Hector Altamirano-Medina
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Panagiota Angeli
UCL Department of Chemical Engineering
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Russell Binions
UCL Department of Chemistry
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Dan Brett
UCL Department of Chemical Engineering
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Richard Bucknall
UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering
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Peter Coveney
UCL Department of Chemistry
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Ben Croxford
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Mike Davies
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Kevin Drake
UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering
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Alistair Greig
UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering
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Xiao Guo
UCL Department of Chemistry
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Graham Ive
UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management
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Liora Malki-Epshtein
Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
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Keith McKenna
UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy
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Dejan Mumovic
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Lars Nesheim
UCL Department of Economics
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Rokia Raslan
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Peter Raynham
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Ian Ridley
UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
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Alex Shluger
UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy
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Stef Simons
UCL Department of Chemical Engineering
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Frank Smith
UCL Department of Mathematics
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Julia Stegemann
Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
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Paul Wrobel
UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering
View Paul's profile

Students

Lucy Aldous - Energy Mapping and Optimisation on Cruise Vessels

Carrie Behar - Investigating occupant understanding, acceptance and interaction with ventilation systems in low energy dwellings which use mechanical and passive ventilation strategies, with a view to characterising the potential impact of choice of ventilation strategy on national CO2 emission reduction targets.

Kim Bouwer - Exploring the potential and limitations of liability law inaddressing the risks and uncertainties of decarbonising the built environment:a comparative law and economic analysis

Elusiyan Eludoyin - A Sustainable Energy Policy Model: Meeting Nigeria’sElectricity Capacity Demand and Targets on Climate Change

Stephanie Gauthier - In the UK, what are people's mental models of their home comfort systems?

Lisa Gobio-Thomas - How is ICT used in the home?

Ian Hamilton - The impact of domestic energy efficiency interventions inthe UK: developing a methodological framework for energy efficiency programmes

Sung Min Hong - Benchmarking and Assessing Energy Consumption for the UK Non-domestic Stock

Aurore Julien - Sustainable management of cities under different energy supply interruption scenarios

Tia Kansara - Achieving Zero Carbon Zero Waste

Maria Kikira - Energy and Life Cycle Costing of Building Facade

Francis Li - Future Approaches to Building Electricity and Heat Demand-Supply Matching for the UK's Strategic National Energy Infrastructure

Stephen Lorimer - Socioeconomic factors on the energy modelling of appliances and lighting in residential buildings

Jennifer Love - Occupant behaviour following home retrofit: uncovering some of the mechanisms behind changes in energy service demand

Henrietta Lynch - What are the constraints to uptake of Passivhaus design in the UK? A review of industry opinion

Christophe McGlade - The effects of uncertainties in the availability of oil and gas on the future global energy system

Charlie Morris-Marsham - Visualising home energy use: can the provision of thermalimages affect householders’ mental models of home energy use and influencelevels of consumption?

Eleni Oikonomou - Summer overheating in London dwellings: A cross-cultural comparison on occupant behaviour and building interaction

Eoin O'Keeffe - Modelling Operations and Technologies to Deliver Low Carbon Shipping

Sophie Parker - Modelling the Economic Impact of Carbon Reduction Policies in Shipping

Nishat Rehmatulla - Policy, market and regulatory instruments, exogenous scenarios through to 2050

Craig Robertson - The Role of Information Feedback in Building Design and Construction Practice

Ed Sharp - The spatiotemporal patterns of energy demand and supply in the UK

Samuel Stamp - Developing co-heating test procedure and application

Julia Tomei - Global policy and local outcomes: the case of biofuels in Guatemala

David Veitch - Developing improved methods for measurement of ventilation rates in occupied dwellings

Faye Wade - Investigating the requirements of decision support to assist plumbers in providing the most appropriate central heating solutions to householders

Peter Warren - Best Practice in Energy Demand-side Management Policies

Will Usher - Uncertainty in energy system modelling






PhD Funding Opportunities

UCL-Energy EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training will be offering scholarships for September 2015 start. For further information go to this news item.

UCL Energy Institute has  the following funded opportunity at the moment:

PhD Studentships in Transport Analysis

For our partner institute funded PhD studentships please See the UCL ISR website for further details.

In addition, see UCL's website for prospective graduate students for other opportunities.

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

Applying for MPhil/PhD

Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

For information, please see the faculty admissions information here.

MPhil/PhD Energy

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.

General

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. 

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. 

The following indicates a typical recommended process:

Before applying

(1) Consider your preferred mode and programme of study

Consider which of the individual MPhil/PhD programmes within BSEER you would like to apply for.

(2) Investigate your potential research topic & develop your research proposal

Investigate what area you would like to do research in. Take into consideration the research that has already been done in your area, and what research questions could be worth fresh investigation. 

Think through what research methods would be appropriate to address your research questions, and consider what a feasible programme of research would entail overall.
Your application should include a research proposal (maximum 2,000 words) outlining 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.

More information in application section below.

(3) Identify potential sources of funding

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

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.

Fees 2014/15 Research Degree: Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources (RRDEERSENR01)

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.

What funding is 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 Become a Student page of the London-Loughborough Centre website.
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) studentships are available each year. You can find more information about funding on the SEAHA 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.

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

(4) Make contact with potential supervisors

Getting the right match with an appropriate supervisor is an important factor both in making judgments on admitting applicants and in the ultimate successful completion of a research degree. Therefore, we strongly recommend that before applying, you contact potential supervisors in advance. This is not essential, but it can help ensure the best match of prospective student and supervisor. 

Have a look at the profiles of members of staff, and make contact with the most suitable person - however, it is best not to make multiple contacts to different people simultaneously. 

Visit the Institute website(s) that you are interested in and view the academic staff profiles of the supervisors to see if there is someone working in the field you are interested in or on a topic similar to the one you propose studying e.g. http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/energy/programmes/mphil_phd/mphilphd-energy

Please note, only certain research staff are able to supervise PhD students. Another way of searching for potential supervisors is via the Institutional Research Information System (IRIS) which is the research portal for UCL.

If you are not sure who might be the best person for your topic, please contact the BSEER PhD Administrator or Department Graduate Tutor for Research but please ensure you attach your proposed research proposal and CV.

  1. A provisional title.
  2. An indication as to why you feel they are an appropriate supervisor and which institute you are interested in applying to.
  3. Statement of problem and context: a brief paragraph stating the context of your topic, and the problem(s) it is trying to address.
  4. Research objectives and questions: what you are trying to find out. 
  5. Methods - a general outline of what method(s) you would intend to use.
  6. Bibliography - key references or previous studies that you intend to build upon. 
  7. A short CV (1-2 pages).

When approaching a member of staff - whether a potential supervisor, PhD Administrator of Department Graduate Tutor for Research - it will be very helpful if you include the following information:

1-5 above should be a total of no more than two pages, at this initial stage

Providing this information clearly can help expedite the processing of your application, as it allows us to match your interests to potential supervisors. At this stage you may then expect to exchange correspondence with a member of staff who could be a potential supervisor. They may be able to advise on possible research topics or give other advice on preparing a research proposal. They may also refer you to other members of staff, if appropriate.  After this exchange of correspondence, you need to complete your formal application.

Application

(5) Prepare the application

You should complete the UCL Application Form, providing details of the Institute you are interested in applying to, the name of your proposed supervisor, your qualifications and experience, outlining the proposed research, enclosing all necessary supporting documents and explaining your means of financial support. 

The Research Proposal document is crucial to our decision on your application, since it demonstrates your ability to identify and articulate an independent line of research inquiry. 

In 1000 - 2000 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. 

You should also include a Personal Statement of no more than 250 words.
Guidance notes on the drafting of your Research Proposal are available on request from the BSEER PhD Administrator.

(6) Contact referees

In addition to completing your application to UCL, you need to identify two academic referees. Your referees should know you in a professional or academic capacity and so be able to comment on your suitability for MPhil/PhD study. They could for example be your personal tutor from your previous studies and/or your work colleague or line manager. They cannot be provided by family members.

At least one reference should be provided from an academic source and it would be unusual not to be able to provide a reference from the institution in which you most recently studied. You may submit more then two references if you wish (two is the minimum required).

(7) Submit the application

The submission procedure is set out on the UCL Graduate Application and Entry page

When submitting your application online, please ensure you read the instructions carefully before completing the application. In particular, you should note that both your referees must submit their references online, upon receiving an automated email with a secure link. Please ensure both your referees are willing to provide their references by this means. Until both references are submitted online, your application is not released to The Bartlett and Institute and it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure the references are submitted by their referees to avoid delay.

After application

(8) Selection

The selection process typically takes 3-4 months, as this involves the review and evaluation of your application by a number of members of staff, individually and in a committee. 

We cannot guarantee how long the process will take, since it may partly depend on staff availability, as well as on the timing of committee meetings and holiday periods. 

If you live in the UK, or are in the UK at the time of your application, we will normally want to interview you. If you live overseas, we may conduct a telephone or Skype interview, or arrange for an interview locally. 

We look for candidates who are well-qualified, and whose proposed research falls within the expertise and interests of a member of the our staff. If you meet these conditions, you will be considered for admission - provided that two appropriate members of staff are available and willing to supervise you. Your UCL offer letter will tell you the name of your supervisors.

(9) Starting the programme

If we require you to take a taught course as part of your MPhil/PhD programme, you will normally start in September. If you have been accepted without a taught course requirement, you may start at any time however September is recommended as there are many induction events held both at UCL and local level which will be helpful to you during your time at UCL.

When you start your programme, you will register with UCL. You will need to show proof of identity (e.g. a passport/birth certificate), as well as proof of previous qualifications (either the original certificates or certified copies) and also of your English language test score, if that was a condition of your offer. 

The fees, which are payable annually, become due when you register, and you will not be registered fully until you have paid the fees for your first year of study. 

After registration, you will meet your supervisors, if you have not done so before, and start your programme of study.