Entry requirements

Students seeking admission into the Department’s PhD programme must hold as a minimum a First or Upper Second class bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited university. It is not necessary that the undergraduate degree be in environmental sciences or environmental studies; indeed, the academic backgrounds of PhD students at the Centre range from philosophy and politics to engineering and zoology. Candidates should note, however, that many funding agencies now require applicants for PhD research studentships to have a Masters degree in a relevant subject.


It is essential that prospective students are able to fund their studies. Some PhD students at theDepartment are self-funding; others benefit from awards offered by the College. Some UK or EU-based students receive scholarships or awards from UK Research Councils (eg NERCUKERCESRC), whilst overseas students may receive awards or support from organisations in their home country, or awards from UK-based and international organisations (eg The British CouncilUKCISA). See also: ACF.


Prospective students should contact potential supervisors directly, outlining their research interests in a two-page research proposal and including a CV. You can view a list of prospective PhD supervisors here. Applicants must also read the application guidance notes and complete a postgraduate application form. For further information, please contact Shane Murphy at the Centre’s Postgraduate Studies office.

Further information

Please see the Postgraduate prospectus for further information.


Two PhD studentships are available in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College linked to research for Defra on national air pollution control policies. To apply please send a CV with academic qualifications and 2 referees, plus why you think you would be a strong candidate, to Professor Helen ApSimon (h.apsimon@imperial.ac.uk) by 8 September. Selected candidates will be interviewed in the following week to start in October 2021 or shortly after.

Studentship 1: Synergies between climate measures and air quality strategies

Supervisors: Prof Helen ApSimon and Dr Iain Staffell

This research project will involve investigation of a range of future energy and transport scenarios in the UK up to 2050, exploring emissions of air quality pollutants and their impacts on human health. It will build on existing work on electrification of road transport and other net zero climate measures modelled with our UK Integrated Assessment Model, UKIAM; which derives pollutant concentrations and exposure of the UK population, and which the student will have access to. There are many uncertainties in such modelling and the assumptions made. In particular the optimal deployment of air quality control measures to control atmospheric pollutants needs to take account of the temporal development of energy generation, and the capacity of non-polluting renewables to produce electricity and hydrogen/ammonia as alternative fuels in parallel with demands from electrification of road transport and other climate measures. The purpose of this studentship will be to look into these uncertainties in greater depth with respect to the relationship between projections for energy generation and climate measures, and abatement of air quality pollutants and associated benefits for health. Comparison will also be made with parallel modelling for other European countries undertaken by IIASA with the GAINS model.

The student will be based in the Integrated Assessment Unit of the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College and will benefit from the expertise of energy and climate policy specialists and the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial. It will require good computing skills and a good degree in a relevant discipline, plus a strong interest in computer modelling related to environmental policy.


Studentship 2:  Effects of future agricultural scenarios on air quality and ecosystem protection

Supervisors: Prof Helen ApSimon and Dr Huw Woodward

Agriculture is a key sector in terms of air quality, biodiversity and climate change. It is the dominant source of ammonia resulting in modification of the cycling of nitrogen in the environment with major consequences for biodiversity, and atmospheric chemical reactions producing small particles with adverse effects on human health. Agriculture is also a large source of greenhouse gas emissions such as nitrous oxide and methane, playing a crucial role in net zero climate pathways and competing future land uses. A shift in diet away from meat and dairy products between now and 2050 may also result in significant changes in the agricultural sector, with potential implications for healthy diets and obesity. What the UK’s agricultural sector will look like in 2050 is therefore highly uncertain. The aim of this studentship will be to define potential future scenarios and explore the resulting consequences with respect to the UKs climate change, air quality and biodiversity targets. Comparison will be made with related work in other European countries.

The studentship will be based in the Integrated Assessment Unit of the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College, and will draw on expertise within a Defra research consortium including the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UKCEH. It will have access to modelling undertaken for Defra including use of the UK Integrated Assessment Model, UKIAM, developed to model future UK emission scenarios with respect to ecosystem protection and human health. It will require good computing skills and a good degree in a relevant discipline, plus a strong interest in computer modelling and protection of the natural environment.