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Sustainability MPhil, PhD

Research ( full-time, part-time)


January, April, September

Apply online

For application deadlines visit our how to apply page.


Pursue your research degree with an internationally known institute that works with influential partners, including government and industry.

Full description

Supervision and support

We can accommodate many research proposals. Our researchers come from a variety of backgrounds, including economics, geography, international relations, psychology, sociology, environmental social science, communications, mathematics and computer modelling.

Our supervisory staff are recognised experts in their field. Their research expertise includes:

Prof Aled Jones – climate finance and policy, resource risk and political fragility

Prof Alison Greig - the role of education (people, processes, infrastructure) in creating a more sustainable future

Prof Rosie Robison – sustainable consumption, personal change, self-reflection, community groups

Prof Chris Foulds – consumption, energy, built environment, sociotechnical change, practices

Dr Davide Natalini - environmental security, complex social-ecological systems, and energy transitions.

Dr Zareen Bharucha - rural change and resource use, resource governance, sustainability and well-being, and urban change

Dr Melanie Rohse - everyday experiences of energy, water extremes and resilience, interdisciplinary research, and stories, narratives and co-production

Dr Sarah Royston - creative writing and sustainability, narrative methodologies, and application of social practice theories to sustainability issues

Dr Lara Houston - grassroots social change, creative practice in sustainability, and repair practice/citizen led practice

Dr Philippa Calver - justice and just transitions, energy systems, education as a lever for change, futures thinking

The GSI staff are joined by visiting fellows - and we can call on the expertise of specialists throughout ARU to support the interdisciplinary aspects of your work.

You can find out more about our postgraduate opportunities (MSc, PhD, ProfDoc), including links to PhD topics which would complement current research across our four themes.

Where you'll research

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is one of the largest of the four faculties at ARU. Whether you choose to study with us full-time or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate.

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science, technology and engineering fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students, 2024/25 (per year)


UK students, 2024/25 (part-time, per year)


International students, 2024/25 (per year)


International students, 2024/25 (part-time, per year)


Bench fees

In some cases extra costs known as bench fees will be charged for a postgraduate research degree. These are to cover additional/exceptional costs directly related to a specific research project.

Some examples of these costs are (the list is not exhaustive): equipment hire, access costs to specialist equipment/workshops, volunteer expenses, specialist tissue/cell culture, specialist reagents or materials, specialist software, access to specialist databases, data collection costs, specialist media, recording or digital storage needs.

We charge bench fees in bands. They may apply for every year of your course. These bands are the same for full- and part-time students.

If you have to pay bench fees this will be made clear at your interview, and stated in your offer letter.

For 2024/25 the bench fee bands are:

  1. £500
  2. £1,200
  3. £2,200
  4. £4,500
  5. £8,900

PhD by Published Work

Initial registration: £1,500
Full registration: £4,500

Writing up fees 2024/25


How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.


For advice on the Doctoral Loan and other sources of funding, including ARU scholarships, visit our finance guide for postgraduate researchers.

You might also find The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding helpful.

ARU research

Visit aru.ac.uk/global-sustainability-institute-gsi/research for further information about current research at the Institute.


Our students are closely involved in the Institute’s activities, including research seminars, producing our ‘So What?’ magazine, our annual conference, journal club and public engagement events.

We’ll also provide comprehensive research training in areas such as academic writing and publishing, research methods, subject developments, data analysis, conference skills and presentation.

There’ll be good networking opportunities too. Our partners include the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Skanska, Mott Macdonald, Atkins, the Green Economy Coalition, Renewable Energy & International Law, Lloyd’s of London, Willis Re, Vivid Economics and the Cambridge Cleantech Consortium.

Contact details

If you're interested in finding out more about research study opportunities, please email [email protected] or visit the GSI postgraduate degrees page.

Entry requirements

MPhil or PhD with progression from MPhil: You’ll need a Bachelor degree or equivalent with first or upper second class honours, in a related subject area.

PhD: You’ll need a Master degree or equivalent in a related subject area.

Please note we consider candidates for PhD with progression from MPhil in the first instance. If you want to be considered for direct entry to the PhD route then this can be discussed at interview if you are shortlisted. Please note you’ll also need to provide academic justification for this request. 

If English is not your first language, you'll require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component (or equivalent test). If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the programme as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Contact our postgraduate research degree team for more information about studying a PhD, MPhil or Professional Doctorate at ARU.

You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your research programme.

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Get more information

UK applicants

01245 686868

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 683680

Enquire online