Funded PhD at PSI: Building Policy Makers' Capacity to Evaluate Complexity: deadline extension

This is a PhD studentship sponsored by the University of Westminster and linked to the UK’s Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN), a new multi-disciplinary research centre funded by the ESRC and NERC in collaboration with Defra, DECC, the Environment Agency and the Food Standards Agency.

The Centre aims to enable more effective policy-making through enhancing the development and application of policy evaluation approaches that can address complexity across the Energy Environment Food nexus; and the capacity of policy-makers, evaluation practitioners and researchers to understand and use these methods.

The studentship will contribute to CECAN objectives by exploring how the institutional and individual capacity to evaluate complexity in policy-making has been, and could be, developed across government in different settings and at different levels. We are seeking applicants with an interest in environmental policy, policy evaluation, complexity science, and methodological evaluation.

In recent years there has been an active debate about developing a culture of evaluation and evidence-based decision-making across government.

The Civil Service Reform, Open Policy Making and What Works agendas are examples of this in the UK. Building on these and other agendas and combining with interdisciplinary academic perspectives on the policy-making process, evidence-based policy-making, research utilisation, knowledge transfer, innovation processes, delivery models for expert services and institutional change management, the studentship will seek to create insights relevant to ensuring CECAN’s methodological developments are effectively embedded in government policy processes and evaluation practice.

The student will work within the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) research team. Based in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster in central London, our interdisciplinary team applies a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and designs to produce research outputs intended to inform a sustainable future.

The University, a holder of the HR Excellence in Research Award, was founded as Britain’s first polytechnic in 1838. Since then it has developed into a university that combines both metropolitan and cosmopolitan dimensions, and which is closely involved in business, professional and academic life within London, as well as overseas.

The Director of PSI, Ben Shaw, will be the principal supervisor of the student. Ben has nearly 20 years’ experience of working on environmental issues at the interface of research and policy. Further supervisors may be identified depending on the interests of the successful applicant.

The student will benefit from PSI’s wide experience of working at the interface of research, policy and practice on environment and sustainable development and close access to CECAN’s government partners in Westminster and Whitehall.

Studentships include fees (£4,121 p.a.) and subsistence at ESRC rates (£16,296 p.a.*) and are available only to those fulfilling ESRC residential eligibility criteria (

For an informal discussion about this opportunity or for more information on how to apply please contact Ben Shaw, email: For details of how to apply see the University of Westminster application page.

Closing date: 30 September 2016

* - please note that the subsistence rate for this studentship has increased from £14,296 p.a. to £16,296 p.a. since it was first advertised.