Social embedding of products and services for sustainable economy


An exciting opportunity to apply for a funded PhD position in the College of Business and Law, UWE Bristol.

Ref: 2324-OCT-FBL02

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 October 2023.

The closing date for applications is 4 June 2023.

Studentship details

About the college

College of Business and Law is host to a lively and challenging PhD programme. Students benefit from its modern facilities and a welcoming research environment comprising of diverse research groups and centres. The studentship reflects an ongoing commitment of the College of Business and Law at UWE Bristol to the development of its doctoral programmes.

Doctoral students at the college benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from UWE Bristol Doctoral Academy, including extensive professional development programme, research skills training and careers advice.

About the project

In line with UWE Bristol’s ambition as set out in its 2030 strategy, and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, this PhD calls for a collaborative and ambitious project, to research implementation gap faced by firms and individuals in the West of England, as they attempt to transition to a Net Zero economy by 2030.

The UK government have set targets of reaching Net Zero by 2050, whereas in the West of England the targets are much more ambitious, with policy makers targeting Net Zero by 2030. If the region is to meet these targets, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way businesses operate, which in turn needs to be supported by a workforce with the necessary skills to make this transition.

Technology, government policy, regulation, incentives, and business models are important in making the transition, but so too are values and social norm that can often drive more sustainable consumption and production. In many contexts, there is a ‘chicken and egg’ situation where services and products for a sustainable economy essential to meeting climate change and other environmental goals are not yet sufficiently demanded and at the same time producers remain tentative in pursing business models or the forms of production required to meet the demand. Ceschin (2013) discuss this situation and the concept of ‘social embedding’.

This project requires a candidate keen to develop research in the social environmental sciences, perhaps with a background in economics and/or environmental and social psychology. The project will focus on the emergence and diffusion of pro-environmental social norms and/or values prioritisation and activation in relation to sustainable production and consumption.

Suggested research questions may include (but are not restricted to):

  • How should we run interventions for different stakeholders that prioritise and activate values that lead to action in sustainable production and consumption?
  • How are social norms for more sustainable products or product service systems best encouraged?
  • How can we best bring about cultural shifts towards more sustainable consumption and production?
  • How do prices/financial incentives interact with the emergence and diffusion of social norms?
  • How can institutional economics be developed or applied to better understand the transition in social embeddedness required to bring about a sustainable economy? 

We are open to proposals with a mixed methods approach, innovative methodologies and multi-disciplinary insights that pay attention to the importance of publishing in high priority journals. The project will build on the research strengths within SERG, and will be policy-relevant.

For an informal discussion about the project proposal, please contact Dr Peter Bradley at

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Director of Doctoral Research, Dr PaweĊ‚ Capik at


The studentship is available from 1 October 2023 for a period of three and half years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £17,668 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three and a half years.


Applicants must have at least 2.1 degree in economics or environmental and social psychology or a cognate discipline, and preferably Masters degree (with average programme mark of no less than 65%, UK grading scale or international equivalent).

A recognised English language qualification is required. IELTS score of 7.0 overall, or equivalent.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2324-OCT-FBL02.

  1. Prepare your research proposal (no more than 5 pages all-inclusive; font size 11, 1.5-spacing, 2-inch margins). This should ideally happen in consultation with the potential supervisor. You should contact the potential supervisor with an advanced draft of the proposal to confirm they are willing to support your application.
  2. Submit your formal application online.

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 4 June 2023.

Further information

Interviews will take place in June/July 2023. If you have not heard from us by 30 of June 2023, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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