Environmental impact of gaming products and services

Our Centre for Environment and Sustainability Practitioner Doctorate Student (PDS) 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 April 2023


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe

Funding information

The studentship funding covers UK academic fees for UK/home students. You will receive a stipend of £20,000 per annum for 3 years with research training support grant covered.

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


The unique CES PDS programme enables UK students to conduct their Doctoral research in sustainability to PhD (or EngD) level directly linked to, and embedded in, our PDS Partnering Organisation (PO) Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe.

Recognised as a global leader in interactive and digital entertainment, Sony Interactive Entertainment* (SIE) 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, we seek to create impact beyond gaming, inspire social change, and help preserve the planet for generations to come. SIE is now developing an exciting new multi-disciplinary Environment, Social and Governance team to help the company address its broader environmental and CSR impacts. Our 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 PDS 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 SIE’s London office, they will be in the ideal position to engage and nurture partnerships with our internal and external stakeholders.

The research project 'environmental impact of gaming products and services' will focus on developing and applying life cycle assessment tools assess and manage the environmental impacts of gaming products and services. This project will build on SIE’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.

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 2000, while the energy use of PlayStation 4 was reduced by over 40% 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. In addition, 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 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.

Methodologies: Life cycle assessment (LCA), product environmental footprint (PEF), organisation environmental footprint (OEF).

    We invite applicants with a keen interest in applied sustainability research to contact us now so that you can be considered for this exciting PDS doctoral research opportunity starting in April 2023.

    Related links

    Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability PhD/EngD

    Eligibility criteria

    UK candidates only.

    Minimum upper second UK 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 and/or NGO/third sector organisations and account is taken of such relevant experience in balance with formal qualifications as outlined above.

    Person specification

    • English proficiency (E)
    • Masters degree in maths, physical sciences, and/or engineering (E)
    • Ability to work independently (E)
    • Strong writing skills (E)
    • Proficiency in MS Excel (E)
    • Knowledge of databases programs (D)
    • Strong communication skills are necessary and evidence of stakeholder engagement at all levels is required (E)
    • The candidate must be able to display a capacity for independent thought, as well as a pragmatic attitude to working within industry (E)
    • A passion for the environment
    • Inquisitive nature.

    English language requirement

    IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall with 6.0 in writing, or equivalent.

    How to apply

    To apply via Sony Interactive Entertainment online, please state the named research project ‘Environmental impact of gaming products and services’, with a covering letter and an accompanying CV, prior to making any formal admissions application via the University’s Admissions procedures.

    We will be conducting interviews as we receive applicant CV’s via email and appointing sequentially – so you are encouraged to contact us now (do not wait until the deadline!).

    Prior to interview, applicants will be required to provide two references; typically from previous academic supervisors, or industry/employment references.

    The successful candidate for this PDS following interview will be required to formally apply for admission to the University's Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability PhD/EngD, via the University’s Admissions procedures.

    Studentship FAQs

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

    Application deadline

    Contact details

    Caroline Stuart: PDS@surrey.ac.uk.


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