PhD positions


Construction is one of the top three sectors of the UK economy. It is responsible for 8% of GDP and 10% of both UK employment and greenhouse gas emissions. Construction materials are by far the largest material resource flow globally. In the UK, construction materials are used at a rate of more than half a million tonnes per day, and they comprise more than 60% of the UK waste generation. Meanwhile, new infrastructure, as a proportion of total new construction, has doubled over the past 20 years, and the National Infrastructure & Construction Pipeline projects up to £650 billion investment in infrastructure over the next 10 years. Yet, the construction industry faces serious challenges accessing materials while also reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation and other environmental impacts. These challenges are being investigated in the UKRI-funded Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials (ICEC-MCM),

This multidisciplinary academic team is led by University College London, together with five other UK universities, Loughborough University, University of Leeds, Lancaster University, University of Sheffield, Imperial College London, and the British Geological Survey (BGS). It is supported by a large network of national and international partners from all sectors of the construction industry (clients, designers, contractors, suppliers, consultants), local and national government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other academics. It involves collaboration between 25 world-class academic co-investigators and 15 post-doctoral researchers. Further, the ICEC-MCM programme will be supported by doctoral research projects. 

The department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) and the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources (BSEER) at UCL, School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering and the Business School at Loughborough University and the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College will be sponsoring PhD studentships that support the programme of work at the ICEC-MCM. Funding for the doctoral research will consist of: a) a fee waiver for part-time students based in industry, or b) a matched funding studentship (i.e., half of the cost of the stipend and fees paid by the department, and the other half by an external partner). A full studentship may be awarded for an exceptional project without external funding, but the matched funding route is preferred as a way to enable impact. 

At UCL and Imperial College, the fee waiver or matched fee will only cover home fees; students not eligible for UK fee status can apply but will have to arrange funding for the difference between the UK (home) rate and the overseas rate themselves. At Loughborough University, the fee waiver or matched fee will cover home or overseas fees.  

Interviews will be in late August 2023, with funding decisions by the beginning of October 2023.   

We will also accept applications from those who wish to self-fund PhD projects, are in receipt of an independent scholarship, or are fully industry-funded; this must be indicated clearly in the application 

Person specification 

You are required to have a good honours degree (1st Class or an Upper 2:1) and preferably a master’s degree in a relevant subject or other relevant experience. Applicants should have a strong wish to pursue a PhD and aspire to become future leaders in driving circular economy in the construction sector. 

You are also: 

Excellent at communications, writing and presentation.  

A team player with the skills to collaborate with a range of project partners.  

Motivated, inquisitive, creative, and will thrive at the exciting and fast-moving cutting edge of sustainability science. 

Able and willing to perform and innovate independently. We recognise the value of diverse perspectives and experiences in our research team and therefore positively encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds.  

How to apply 

Co-investigators at the ICEC-MCM have a list of topics available (click links for details).  

If you do not wish to apply to one of the available topics, you may apply with a research proposal based on a self-generated project idea provided it is unique, contributes clearly to the transition to a Circular Economy for Construction Materials and fits within the portfolio of research in one of the departments recruiting PhD students.  

For self-generated research proposals it is preferred that the applicants are self-funded or in receipt of a scholarship or are partially or fully industry-funded. Such applicants are advised to connect with potential academic supervisors before applying. 

To apply to one of the listed topics, please email  with the following information: 

  • Title of the project  
  • Status of funding – applying to the university studentship, industrially funded or self-funded 
  • CV 
  • Personal statement 
  • (optional) methodology you would use to achieve the research objectives (max. 200 words)  

To apply with a self-generated topic, please email  with a background (max. 300 words) and aims/objectives (max. 150 words) in addition to all the above information.  

Shortlisted candidates will be asked to upload some of these documents via the respective university applications portals before being invited to interviews.  

Please note that the award of any PhD studentships is subject to the universities’ discretion and will be based on the quality of applications received.  


Application closing date 


Interview date 

Mid-August to mid-September 2023 

Studentship start date 

January 2024 

Read more / apply
  • Application deadline: Aug 15, 2023
  • University College London
  • Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering
  • London, UK
  • PhD Positions
Read more / apply Back to list
On the job market

Some industrial ecology candidates that are on the job market...

All candidates