MPhil/PhD studentship in an evaluation of approaches to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at the University of Derby

Investing in excellence: studentship opportunities

The University of Derby is seeking to recruit Studentships in Learning, Teaching and Academic Practice. Seven projects have been identified to support the pedagogic core of the University’s learning and teaching. The projects aim to ensure that we are research led in our practice and have a strategic approach to the evaluation of the impact of our approaches to student support, developing skills and employability, education for sustainable development, inclusivity, and generative AI. Of the seven projects, we will recruit to three.

The following full-time postgraduate research studentship is one of the seven possible projects available. This full-time postgraduate research studentship is in the Zero Carbon area of research in the College of Arts, Humanities and Education.

Qualification type: Location: Funding amount: Hours: Closes: Interview: Start date:
MPhil/PhD Derby, UK £18,622 stipend pa + UK home tuition fees (£4,712) full time Friday 5 January 2024* 24 January to 31 January 2024 March 2024

The successful applicant will receive a maintenance stipend (based on the minimum stipend defined by UKRI, currently £18,622 for the academic year 2023/24) and home MPhil/PhD tuition fees (£4,712 - subject to amendment) only up to the target submission date.

The intended intake period is March 2024.

The successful applicant will be expected to complete their MPhil/PhD within 3 years on the MPhil/PhD route, contribute to the College REF submission and get involved in the wider research activities of the College.

Applicants will become part of a friendly and welcoming team and will be supported and managed by their supervisors.

The vacancy details are as follows:


Evaluate the impact of the approaches taken across different disciplines to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into academic programmes of study.

Project objectives

Project aim:

Evaluate the impact of the approaches taken across different disciplines to embed Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into academic programmes of study.


Analyse how different disciplinary domains have approached the requirement to embed ESD into their curricula and the factors which affect decision-making a programme level.

Examine the degree of progress made across the University in embedding ESD.

Analyse the effectiveness of models designed to support and facilitate the implementation of ESD across disciplines.

Explore the extent to which models of ESD embedding and support are transferable across and between disciplines.

Project description

The call for universities to comprehensively embed sustainable development content into their curricula and research activities is longstanding (e.g. HEFCE, 2005), and education is seen as central to engendering a more sustainable future and the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNESCO, 2020). Reflective of these wider trends, the University of Derby has committed to ‘Zero Carbon’ as a core academic theme and the University’s recently published Curriculum Design Framework (CDF) includes Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as one of four themes to be embedded into all programmes. It is this Framework and its emphasis on ESD which sets the context for this PhD project. This project will explore how programme teams respond to this flexible environment.

Key themes and questions which it is anticipated will emerge during the project include:

Potential project impact

This is an applied project which is concerned with evaluating progress towards delivering one of the key principles of the University’s new Curriculum Design Framework. It has, therefore, the potential to inform institutional monitoring and decision-making processes. The project also has a strong enhancement focus by highlighting best practice in embedding ESD and the circumstances when this appears to be most effective. It will, therefore, help support progression towards putting sustainability at the heart of the University’s curricula and offer recommendations related to this. Whilst these are institutional priorities, the project will also help inform sector-wide activity focused on growing the profile of sustainability within the HE student experience.

Principal accountabilities and responsibilities

In this project, successful applicants will be required to:

The successful applicant will become adept at managing research projects and adhering to timeframes for key milestone deliverables.

The project will require ongoing engagement with multiple stakeholders. This provides successful candidates with unparalleled opportunities to develop in-demand skills and experience and develop a strong institutional network that will enhance their future employment prospects.

Applicants will need to evidence the following essential attributes, skills, and abilities:

To apply 

Please review our entry requirements before submitting your application and check out the 'Getting Started' section below.

Completed applications should be submitted via our online application system quoting funding reference: AHE_Education for Sustainable Development 05_1123

Closing dates for applications: Friday 5 January 2024.*

*(Please note, we encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible as we reserve the right to close before 5 January 2024 if a high volume of applications is received.)  

Interviews: 24 January to 31 January 2024. 

If you have not been invited for an interview by the interview date, please assume your application has been unsuccessful.  

For other enquiries which are subject-specific please contact:

Find out more about our Zero Carbon.

Apply for this SE studentship post

Getting started

Before you begin your application, make sure you have:

Studentship funding reference code

This is provided on the individual studentship advert and must be specified in your application.

Personal statement

A 500-word personal statement outlining your suitability for the studentship project. This is a mandatory requirement and you must upload it into your application. You should include your reasons for applying for the studentship, your experience in the field, how you feel you would benefit from studying and relevant information about your previous studies.

Your CV

A CV outlining your academic and professional experience.


Your qualification details including grades and dates taken. You will have the opportunity to upload scanned copies of your qualification certificates and transcripts in the application. If you have no formal qualifications, you can also state this in your application.

Passport/birth certificate

A scanned copy of your passport or full birth certificate. This will help us verify your application to study with us.

Academic references

Two signed academic references. This is optional at application stage but highly encouraged. If successful in your application, two academic references will be a mandatory requirement of admission. The references should be in written format, signed and dated from either a supervisor or tutor from your most recent studies.