Towards Sustainable Energy Futures for Displaced Communities

Towards Sustainable Energy Futures for Displaced Communities

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International - including EU at international rates from September 2021)

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 24 May 2021

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2021

For further details contact: Dr Esra Kaytaz

DTA Future Societies PhD Studentships

This is a Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA) Future Societies fully-funded PhD studentship.

Find out more


Coventry University is inviting applications from ambitious and self-motivated PhD candidates to explore sustainable energy futures for displaced communities, fully funded through the Doctoral Training Alliance programme.

The researcher will be based at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) and associated with the Centre for Data Science (CDS). CTPSR is a multi-disciplinary research centre drawing on research from the social sciences and beyond with a strong focus on integrated peacebuilding, trust and social and community relations, international development and migration. CDS aims to develop cutting edge pure research in Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Future Computing for cyber-physical and socio-technical systems, linking fundamental science to real-world applications.

Project details

Globally, over 80% of the 8.7 million refugees and displaced persons in camps have little or no access to electricity. For refugee settlements and host communities to have access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy, humanitarian responses need appropriate guidance and data to deliver improved energy solutions in displacement settings.
This transdisciplinary project will build on the HEED project principles of community co-design. It will draw on fields of energy anthropology, energy ethics and socially informed Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) design approaches to rethink energy protocols in refugee settings. The project will use qualitative methods such as interviews and community-based participatory research.

The project objectives are:

  1. To understand the social, cultural and subjective meanings of energy in the case study community to support energy systems design that can respond to and respect the energy needs and aspirations of displaced people
  2. To examine decision-making processes and preferences about energy access and use of households, individuals and collectives of geographically co-located people to inform energy systems design protocols that promote security, well-being and improve life chances of displaced people.
  3. To add to literature on the barriers that limit displaced communities from accessing and benefitting from modern, affordable, and safe energy.


This is a fully-funded studentship, including tuition fees, stipend/bursary and additional allowances for training, conference attendance and fieldwork.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

The successful candidate will draw upon two centres of research excellence, CTPSR and CDS, for support to develop professional and personal skills and practices. At the CTPSR, the PhD researcher will join the Research Group on Global Inequalities and Development with researchers who work in developing regions and make linkages to issues of poverty, inequality and oppression in the so-called developed world. At CDS the researcher will access knowledge, expertise and skills on energy, IoT sensors, and humanitarian engineering.

Beyond the university, the researcher will attend the DTA summer and autumn schools where they will benefit from intersectoral training that fosters opportunities to work with cohorts from other institutions on a nationwide platform.

Entry requirements

Entry criteria for applicants to PHD

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

In addition

  • The ideal candidate will hold or be working towards a master’s degree in a relevant social science discipline (such as anthropology, human and social geography, migration studies, international development).
  • Knowledge of ethnographic and participatory research methods and/or cyber-physical systems is an advantage. Candidates must be willing take on challenging innovative transdisciplinary research.
  • Applications are encouraged from candidates who have work or research experience in migration, international development or energy systems. A strong interest in universal energy access is essential.
  • The successful candidate may be required to conduct research in the case study country (Rwanda) for 6-8 weeks and will be expected to interact with in-country research partners.

How to apply

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Esra Kaytaz.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

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