• Research topic: Examining cooling energy poverty in an era of rising extreme heat
  • Start date: October 2023 (for 3.5 years)
  • The studentship will be held at Somerville College.

The School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford and Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded doctoral studentship from October 2023.

This project, on the broad areas of cooling energy demand and fuel poverty, will be supervised by Associate Professor Radhika Khosla, School of Geography and the Environment with interdisciplinary input from the Oxford Martin School's Future of Cooling Programme.

We encourage the widest range of potential students to apply for this studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. Applicants should have a Master's Degree in a relevant subject or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting.

Project overview

Cooling is becoming a fundamental energy demand in a warming world. The trajectory of cooling is undergoing an extraordinary change: as the economies and urban populations of the world grow, and the frequency and intensity of extreme heat from climate change increases, the demand for cooling is driving substantial increases in energy and greenhouse gas emissions. Under current climate and socioeconomic conditions, threequarters of humanity will face health risks from deadly heat, with approximately 2-4 billion people requiring domestic space cooling to avoid these risks - a number that exceeds the energy poverty gap indicated in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Further, issues of equity are core to the future of cooling, particularly for those who are exposed to heat stress but do not have the capacity to adapt to it with an air conditioner -- which has become the immediate energy-intensive technological solution for thermal comfort amid warming weather. There is an urgent need to understand, identify, and build energy resilience for those most vulnerable to extreme heat's impacts. This PhD studentship will examine important interdisciplinary questions that lie at the heart of understanding the future of sustainable and just cooling energy consumption.

Research question and aims

How are cooling needs shaped as extreme heat rises, and how can sustainable, equitable and responses to managing cooling energy demand be significantly advanced?

This can include questions such as:

  • Where do the greatest socio-economic, infrastructural, and spatial risks and vulnerabilities to achieving cooling needs lie?
  • What are the strategies of adaptation that exposed local communities and individuals rely on in times of extreme heat and/or long-term cooling energy demand?
  • What is the relationship between individual heat resilience strategies, energy and other infrastructures, policies, socioeconomics in enhancing, reproducing or undermining vulnerabilities?
  • What are the recommendations for policy to sustainably and equitably alleviate the stress on urban populations and energy systems from rising extreme heat and cooling demand?

The thesis approach will be based on interdisciplinary social science methods. Qualitative and quantitative methods, or both, are encouraged. This could include literature reviews, empirical urban level field work with qualitative interviews, stakeholder workshops, focus group discussions, policy analysis and quantitative data analysis. There is scope to shape the project as per the candidate's skills and interests.

The geographical focus of the research can be either at the global, regional or national level depending on the candidate's expertise. The goal is to examine uneven heat exposures and how cooling poverty is experienced, including how dominant structural issues shape cooling energy inequities - with a view to policy responses.

The studentship will benefit from being part of an interdisciplinary programme on the Future of Cooling at the university with expertise in engineering, climate modelling, primary health, economics, economic geography and circular economy, and energy studies. In addition, the studentship will benefit from access to energy policy debates and the ability to inform policy output.

Details of Award

The studentship guarantees funding for 3-3.5 years starting in October 2023 at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford.

Funding is subject to EPSRC rules for Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) and studentship values are calculated on the basis of current costs of a UKRI studentship in the Oxford EPSRC DTP. The value of the award will be confirmed following selection, but will be sufficient to cover 3.5 years of fees (whether home or international) and stipend at the UKRI level (not less than £17,668 p.a.).

In line with the UK Research and Innovation Diversity Principles, CREDS has adopted an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Plan. Applications are particularly encouraged from members of groups under-represented in the UK energy research community.


  • There is no restriction on the residential status of applicants. Home and international applicants are welcomed.
  • We want to encourage the widest range of potential students and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply.
  • Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, and will likely include energy research.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the energy demand sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas such as cooling and climate change. Technical/practical skills, creativity, maturity and the ability to design and self-manage a programme of work are desirable.

How to apply

Applications must be made through Oxford University Graduate Admissions and not direct to the School of Geography and the Environment.

View the online application form on the University of Oxford website.

Further questions

Questions about the application process should be directed to the at the School of Geography and the Environment.

Further information