Sustainable space management

Our CES 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 organisations and the University.

Start date

1 April 2023


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

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey Estates and Facilities department

Funding information

UK Student £20,000 p.a. stipend plus University tuition fees and PDS programme fees for 3 years with research training support grant covered.


The University of Surrey Estates and Facilities department are looking to hire a new Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability (PDS) to build on the success of a former Doctoral Practitioner. This student will be embedded within the Sustainability Team, working on helping the University to utilise its existing space in a more sustainable way.

COVID-19 has demonstrated that businesses (including Higher Education) have been able to shift to mass remote working in a short space of time.  The University’s own Transport and Remote Working Survey demonstrated that the majority of staff would like to work from home more frequently post-pandemic. The University intends to use the learnings from the survey, and the adjustments people are making as a result of the energy crisis, to develop its own ‘principles of remote working’ guidance. The successful candidate will use occupancy monitoring to assess demand, before producing a blueprint for the effective rationalisation of University space. The desired results of the project will be more effective use of our existing space, (with the potential to delay or reduce demand for new buildings), reduced commuting emissions, and helping foster a better working environment. The Doctoral Practitioner will be required to review what are the potential barriers, and comparable costs of refurbishing existing office space vs building new. They will need to develop an understanding of carbon and utilise (an existing) or develop a (new/custom) tool to review the relative carbon emissions as a result. The Doctoral Practitioner will also work with our Space Manager and projects team to review our refurbishing policy to look at more sustainable methodologies and industrial best practice.

Project deliverables

  • Produce a reusable blueprint that can be used for current and future rationalisation of space within the academic office spaces at the University of Surrey, which can be used as a best practice example for the wider sector
  • To develop a model to demonstrate how effective use of existing building stock avoids the need to build new buildings
  • Provide a quantifiable carbon saving as a result of more effective space utilisation
  • Identify the positive and negative implications of a wider reconfiguration of space to facilitate the adoption of new ways of working
  • To produce at least one peer reviewed journal article in the area of ‘space optimisation and hybrid working’
  • To produce at least one trade paper on rationalising space use within campuses.

Methodologies: literature review, field-based studies, surveying, machine learning (if appropriate to the student's desired approach).

Person specification

  • The ideal candidate will have a Masters and have worked in industry for a minimum of two years (or hold equivalent industrial experience). They will have a background or experience in one or more of the following areas; Sustainability, Office Management, Construction, Machine learning, Behavioural Psychology or other relevant topics
  • They will be an excellent communicator, ideally with experience in CAD or similar software, and will have experience of handling large data sets, analysing data and presenting results in a way that is appropriate for senior leadership consumption.

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.

Related links

Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability PhD/EngD Centre for Environment and Sustainability

Additional notes

The successful candidate will sit within the University’s Estates and Facilities department as a member of the Sustainability Team. Working across multiple departments with the ability to impact on every student and member of staff.

The University of Surrey is a global community of ideas and people, dedicated to life-changing education and research. Through our world-class research and innovation, we are positively impacting society and shaping future digital economy through agile collaboration with businesses, governments and communities. The Estates and Facilities department forms a core part of the University’s operations, providing the underlying space and facilities for world-leading research to take place.

Eligibility criteria

Open to UK students only.

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

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.

For further details see the entry requirements for the PhD course.

How to apply

To apply please contact: Caroline Stuart at (PDS Development and Administration Officer) by email to express your interest in joining the programme by stating the named research project ‘Sustainable Space Management’, with an accompanying CV and a covering letter, prior to making any formal admissions application via the University’s Admissions procedures.

We will be conducting interviews as we receive applicant CVs 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 via the programme page.

Studentship FAQs

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

Application deadline

Contact details

Caroline Stuart


Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.