Energy and sustainability

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

For more than 40 years The Open University has been active in considering the relationship between energy and sustainability. We have research interests in electricity technology and policy, including the growth of renewables. We have much interest in energy recovery from wastes and end-of-life materials.

We are also active in seeking to understand the behaviours of energy users and the linkage of those behaviours to the built environment and design. We have a focus on the role of justice and equity in environmental management and energy sustainability. Our researchers also consider energy knowledge exchange, considerations of stakeholder dialogue and aspects of public communication.

Our diverse research portfolio involves laboratory-based investigation, desk-based assessments and qualitative research including engaging with human subjects Much of the OU’s energy research is interdisciplinary in nature. It combines science, engineering and social science perspectives. The university’s energy and sustainability research often takes a systemic approach with the possibility also of utilizing cognate perspectives such as technology management, environmental management and complexity science.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree in a technical or appropriate science discipline, depending on the project proposed. If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

For proposed projects in the School of Engineering and Innovation, please email: STEM EI research. The best time to enquire is late autumn each year.

Current/recent research projects

One recent example of an OU PhD student working on energy issues is Madhu Madhavi. In 2020 one of Madhu’s research publications was awarded the James Watt Medal by Institution of Civil Engineers Publishing.

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £15,698 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £7,849 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Child leaning out of car window looking at overhead electricity cables

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Professor William J. Nuttall

Email: Energy Research
Phone: +44 (0)1908 655113

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.