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MPhil/PhD at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Work alongside experienced researchers in a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment.

About the course

Research degrees prove the capacity to organise, carry out and write up a substantial piece of research, presented in a thesis that shows academic rigour and originality.

The main and final product of this programme is the thesis, and your result rests on the examination of this.

At the end of your studies, you’ll be awarded a PhD in Sustainable Resources with one or more of the following sub-categories:

  • Sustainable Water Use, Sustainable Mineral Use, Sustainable Marine Use, Sustainable Biomass Use, Sustainable Energy Use, Sustainable Energy Use
  • Economics, Engineering, Environment, Human Dimensions, Modelling, Policy.

In 2015–16, UCL ISR’s PhD cohort reached 21, a large proportion of whom are working on collaborative projects measuring regional progress towards or away from environmental sustainability.

More information

Read more about our students and current research projects.

Find out how to apply for independent study.

Spotlight on: Measuring Sustainability Gaps

By Melissa C. Lott, Doctoral Researcher, UCL ISR

Melissa Lott

In September 2013 the UCL ISR welcomed a new cohort of PhD students from countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. The group is developing a detailed indicator used in measuring regional progress toward or away from environmental sustainability. Broadly supervised by ISR Professors Paul Ekins and Raimund Bleischwitz, the team will bring contributions from its individual members together to form a more complete set of science-based sustainability indicators.

This work stems from Professor Ekins’ research at the University of London, where he developed the “sustainability gap” (SGAP) metric.  The SGAP is designed to measure the difference between current impact levels and sustainable limits. It is then used to calculate the “Years-to-Sustainability” (YtS) indicator, which describes a region’s progress over time either toward or away from sustainability. Over the next 12-18 months, the new group of PhDs will update the SGAP methodology and then expand their work into subareas according to their own interests.

A core group of eight resources

The SGAP methodology is based on the sustainability concepts of natural capital and ecosystem functions – that is, the value of the services that nature provides to society. To that end, it integrates several types of natural resources for many services. In order to more comprehensively cover this topic, the SGAP researchers are each working in one of eight focus areas:

Three additional projects will be completed on complimentary topics:

  • Environmental regulation and Creative Destruction – Nino Jordan
  • Modelling Paths to Sustainability, Climate Change – Victor Nechifor
  • Public Policies for Natural Resource Use – Ruya Perincek

In bringing together 14 researchers to look at a single sustainability metric, this group has a rare ability to refine a comprehensive set of indicators for the United Kingdom. As a result, their work will create a more complete picture of the relationships between natural resources in national sustainability trends.