A Holistic Approach to Understanding and Addressin...

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A Holistic Approach to Understanding and Addressing Sustainable Consumption

Eligibility: UK/EU/International

Award Details: £15,000 Bursary plus tuition fees - UK/EU only

Duration: Full time - 3 years 6 months Fixed Term

Application deadline: 10th January 2018

Interview date: 13th February 2018

Informal enquiries are essential before application; contact Dr. David Bek to discuss this opportunity.

Congratulations on taking your first steps toward a Research Degree with Coventry University. As an ambitious and innovative University, we’re investing an initial £100m into our new research strategy, ‘Excellence with Impact’. Through original approaches from world-leading experts, we’re aiming for our research to make a tangible difference to the way we live. As a research student you are an integral part of Coventry’s lively and diverse research community and contribute to our reputation for excellence. With our exceptional facilities and superb support mechanisms you are afforded every opportunity for academic success.

The Project

The earth has finite resources to support human consumption, making sustainability a critical issue for organisations seeking to deliver goods and services. Sustainability is also a critical issue for governments, seeking to ensure that there are increases in countries’ economic and societal wellbeing. Within the free market economic systems of Western economies it is however, ultimately the consumer who decides what to purchase and how to consume, thereby addressing their underlying wants and needs.

It is an individual’s aggregate consumption that determines their environmental impact, with some consumption behaviours creating a greater environmental impact than others. However, given that consumers make multiple purchases and consumption decisions, and these generate their own interactions, it is important to focus on the aggregate impact of an individuals’ set of consumption decisions. This is especially important, because researchers have found consumers are inconsistent in their behaviour in regards to the environmental impacts (i.e. acting sustainably in one area but not another). Furthermore, in some cases, they consume more green goods than non-green, escalating overall consumption rates (i.e. a boomerang effect). This highlights the need to focus on aggregate consumption rather than focusing on specific individual behaviours. 

The two theses will address this issue, using qualitative and quantitative methods to examine how attitudes, knowledge and intentions shape overall behaviour, as assessed though a holistic measure of consumers’ environmental impact (e.g., carbon-foot printing). The research will examine how consumers consider their overall environmental impact and whether the undertaking of a systematic assessment of their consumption shapes attitudes, intentions and behaviours.

About the Centre/Department

The Centre for Business in Society (CBiS) is the Faculty of Business and Law’s hub for specialist research. In this vibrant and collegiate environment, a number of research clusters have emerged. CBiS’s research groups are examining aspects of sustainability and ethical consumption in the circular economy, as well as investigating new models and policies in economic development to reflect changing societal values and realigned public spending. Emerging business impacts on society have led to new research teams exploring the economic and social impact of financialisation at the national, organisational and individual level; behavioural change interventions to enhance societal well-being; and the impact of the digital economy in terms of data innovation and strategy, data protection and privacy.

Successful Applicants

Successful applicants will have:

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree (second class honours upper division) in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average, and/or
  • A Masters Degree in a relevant subject area will be considered as an equivalent. The Masters must have been attained with overall marks at 70%. In addition, the dissertation or equivalent element in the Masters must also have been attained with a mark at 70%.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).


  • Preferences will be given to applicants with an H1 Honours or Master’s thesis.

Eligibility & Application Procedure