School of Social and Political Science

Funded 3.5 year PhD Studentship: Promoting the Transformative Potential of Education for Sustainable Development (SPS and SAGES)


Applications are now closed.

We are delighted to offer a funded PhD studentship to begin in September 2021 within the School of Social and Political Science (SSPS) of the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the School of Geography and Sustainable Development of the University of St Andrews.

This studentship is an interdisciplinary initiative funded by the Scottish Alliance for Geosciences, Environment and Society (SAGES) and SSPS.

Aims of the studentship

The aim of the studentship is to investigate how Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) can go beyond the necessary but insufficient goal of transmission of knowledge and offer truly transformative learning opportunities; enabling learners to make decisions that consider the long-term future of the economy, ecology and equity of all communities.

Please review the proposed project outline, although you will have discretion to develop the project according to their interests and in consultation with the supervisors.

Principal supervisor: Dr Rachel Howell
Second supervisors: Prof. Pete Higgins (Edinburgh) and Dr Rehema White (St Andrews)

The PhD student will be fully supported in their career and skills development.

About this qualification

Qualification type: PhD
Location: Edinburgh
Tuition fee funding: Home (UK) fee rate
Stipend/maintenance funding amount: Research Council UK (RCUK) rate (£15,500 for 2021/22)
Hours: full time


We welcome applications from candidates who have a good first degree, and a masters (or who are studying towards one) in one of:

  • sustainable development
  • education
  • sociology
  • geography
  • psychology
  • other relevant subjects

You should meet the entry requirements for the PhD in Social and Political Science, including English language requirements, as detailed on the University's degree finder page:

PhD in Social and Political Science


The studentship covers:

  • tuition fees at the Home (UK) rate
  • additional costs such as conference fees and some research funding
  • an annual stipend at RCUK rate (£15,500 in 2021/22) for 3.5 years

As this studentship covers the Home (UK) tuition fee rate only, any eligible non-UK candidates must fund the remainder of the tuition fee where it applies.

Application process

Important: Potential applicants are encouraged to make contact with Rachel Howell ( in advance of submitting an application.


Applications should be emailed to Rachel Howell by:

  • Friday 29 January 2021, 17:00 GMT

You should use the subject heading ‘SAGES studentship application’.

What to include

Please include:

  • CV (including names of two referees)
  • covering letter explaining your interest in the studentship and what you think you will bring to the project
  • interviews will be held by videoconference in February 2021 (date tbc).
Student category