Environmental impact of gaming products and services

Our Centre for Environment and Sustainability's Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability programme gives its multi-disciplinary doctoral researchers a unique opportunity to develop and apply the latest thinking in sustainability research through specialist partnerships between outside organisations and the University.

Start date

1 January 2024


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Funding information

The studentship funding covers UK academic fees for UK/home students. You will receive a stipend of £21,000 per annum for 3 years with research training support grant covered.

There is the possibility to extend to 4 years funding for an EngD submission by mutual agreement.


The unique Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability programme enables UK students to conduct their doctoral research in sustainability to PhD (or EngD) level directly linked to, and embedded in, our partnering organisation Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The researcher will lead our efforts to assess and address the lifecycle impacts of our products and services globally. The successful candidate will contribute to our efforts to achieve net-zero climate impacts, spearhead state of the art academic research, and contribute to important voluntary environmental commitments. Based in Sony Interactive Entertainment’s London office, they will be in the ideal position to engage and nurture partnerships with our internal and external stakeholders.

The research will focus on developing and applying life cycle assessment tools to assess and manage the environmental impacts of gaming products and services. This project will build on Sony Interactive Entertainment’s existing carbon footprint research to evaluate wider environmental impact factors. At a minimum, the research will identify the hotspots of different environmental impact factors for PlayStation products and services, and better understand the drivers of change.

About Sony Interactive Entertainment

Recognised as a global leader in interactive and digital entertainment, Sony Interactive Entertainment is responsible for the PlayStation®’s brand and family of products and services. PlayStation has delivered innovation to the market since the launch of the original PlayStation in Japan in 1994. As the company grows and evolves, they seek to create impact beyond gaming, inspire social change, and help preserve the planet for generations to come. It is now developing an exciting new multi-disciplinary environment, social and governance team to help the company address its broader environmental and CSR impacts.

Their purpose is to:

  • Forge a path ahead on ESG, and not just follow the crowd
  • To turn our intentions into action
  • Do the right things and do them well.

The carbon footprint of gaming

The carbon footprint of gaming products and services is rapidly changing as technology becomes more energy efficient and as gaming habits change. For example, the energy intensity to transmit data through the internet transmission network is estimated to have halved every two years from the year 2000, while the energy use of PlayStation 4 was reduced by over 40 per cent from launch to date.

In addition, the way people are gaming is changing; it is estimated that downloaded game sales overtook physical disc sales in 2020 for the first time; while cloud gaming is an emergent technology that could see substantial growth in the future. A new generation of consoles was launched at the end of 2020, including the PlayStation 5, which have different typical electricity consumption profiles compared to the previous generation. Also, as the limit of Moore’s law approaches, there are questions as to how much energy efficiency of devices can be improved further. There is little knowledge of how other environmental impact factors for gaming products and services are affected and may change in the future.

Overall, current estimates for the carbon footprint of our products and services will become rapidly outdated. There is new legislation emerging on substantiating green claims and increasing pressure is on companies to mitigate and offset the carbon emissions of products and digital services. In addition, future EU legislation may require the use of the product environmental footprint method. Greater understanding is important for the gaming industry to make informed decisions on future strategy, to mitigate the risks and impacts of climate change, environmental impact, and related regulations.

Related links

Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability PhD/EngD

Eligibility criteria

Candidates will require a minimum upper-second (2:1) UK honours degree or equivalent BSc/BA degree and/or MSc/MA at merit or equivalent in a discipline relevant to diverse aspects of applied sustainability research and thinking. Broadly, these may well be in the maths, physical sciences, engineering, but we welcome applications from other disciplinary backgrounds.

We particularly welcome applications from individuals with experience in:

  • Industry/business
  • Government
  • NGO/third sector organisations

Account is taken of such relevant experience in balance with formal qualifications as outlined above.

Expected skills

  • Ability to work independently
  • Strong writing skills
  • Proficiency in MS Excel
  • Strong communication skills are necessary and evidence of stakeholder engagement at all levels is required
  • The candidate must be able to display a capacity for independent thought, as well as a pragmatic attitude to working within industry
  • A passion for the environment and inquisitive nature.

English language requirement

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual component.

How to apply

Please apply via Sony Interactive Entertainment, providing:

  1. The named research project (environmental impact of gaming products and services)
  2. A covering letter
  3. An accompanying CV.

Selection process

Interviews will be conducted as we receive applicant CV’s.

Following interview, the successful candidate will be required to formally apply via the University’s Admissions system, and will be required to provide two references (typically from previous academic supervisors, or Industry/employment references).

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Caroline Stuart


Studentships at Surrey

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