ClimateUEA is delighted to present our PhD studentship award programme entitled Critical Decade for Climate Change Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars, directed by Professor Corinne Le Quéré and Deputy Director Dr Mark Tebboth.



Our Critical Decade LDS programme is generating a new cohort of 21st Century climate thought leaders that have the agile and interdisciplinary thinking necessary to lead a paradigm shift in understanding responses to climate change and why they succeed or fail. We postulate that by looking at real-world transformations in near real-time, researchers today can better understand why some actions succeed while others fail, and help stimulate and accelerate responses to climate change at the necessary scale and urgency.

Since 2021 we have recruited three cohorts of doctoral researchers who are training within the ClimateUEA interdisciplinary community, which brings together experts in climate research from our four Faculties (Science, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Medicine and Health). We are recruiting one final scholar to join the group on a 3-year and 8-month studentship that will provide funding including a maintenance stipend, tuition fees and a research and training grant (see Funding Conditions)

  1. To develop methods that serve to capture near real-time information on evolving trends in carbon emissions, climate impacts, and their drivers using modern types of observations;
  2. To analyse existing actions across the energy and land-use sectors, and for adapting to climate change, and identify conditions that trigger proportionate responses;
  3. To create imaginative and arts-based approaches that serve to explore and evaluate potential futures and to widen understanding and action across society.

In doing so we will document the changes across nature and society, provide evidence of their drivers and triggers, their amplifying forces and intervention points, in order to inspire and inform the strongest possible responses to climate change.

Tackling climate change transcends disciplinary boundaries because it has deep implications across all aspects of life for all societies on the planet. It touches on our core activities and the way we operate as a society, including governance at all scales, from local to international. It involves access to and distribution of resources, inequality, poverty, and social justice and stability. 

The decade of the 2020s is set to be the stage for other transformational changes beyond the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic including:

  • Rapid digital, energy, and lifestyle innovations, which are transforming the way we interact with both natural and human systems. Digitalisation is shaking up business models and market regulation. Renewable energy now outcompetes fossil energy on price in many contexts. New types of observations have emerged. Many question established tenets of the capitalist model including hypermobility and hyper-consumption.
  • Emerging consciousness of the importance of the natural environment. Wide societal support for tackling climate change emerged and continue in spite of the pandemic, evidenced by #FridaysForFuture, the Extinction Rebellion protests, the surge of Green votes in the last European Elections. Meanwhile, growing impacts are seen in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, while the use of biomass in a net zero carbon economy is essential for retaining and enhancing terrestrial carbon stocks. The need for a new social-nature contract is growing. 
  • New thinking in creative writing. The literary critic Raymond Williams wrote that every era has its own ‘structure of feeling’. The Covid-19 pandemic has fast-tracked us into a trajectory that clashes with mainstream economics. Creative modes of thinking can harness emotion to reconceptualise the balance of power between humans and nature. Narrative both shapes and interprets the future and is emerging as a powerful tool to explore the future.

UEA has pioneered climate research for nearly 50 years: our Climatic Research Unit is responsible for the global temperature record, which first brought global warming to the world’s attention. The UK-wide Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, headquartered at UEA from the onset, has advanced research on the societal implications of climate change, including on limits to adaptation and on disruptive innovation. Internationally, UEA is the university that has made the most substantive and sustained contribution, across disciplines, to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the world.

The ClimateUEA research initiative was founded in 2019 by UEA’s climate research community to stimulate new ideas, push boundaries and inspire staff and students. Within the first year of its inception, initiatives under ClimateUEA had involved into a vibrant research community of over 150 faculty members of UEA and the Norwich Research Park and a further 100 PhD and post-doctoral researchers. 

As a UK Top 20 for research quality (Times Higher Education Rankings for the Research Excellence Framework 2021, and the 6th most cited in the UK and 41st globally (THE Research Citations rankings 2022), UEA provides an outstanding environment for doctoral training. Building on our heritage of interdisciplinary research since our foundation in 1963, UEA has led the way in shaping disciplines such as environmental sciences, international development and creative writing, all of which have been recognised by a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, and will contribute to training the next generation of interdisciplinary climate researchers.

Our doctoral researchers work on projects developed by an interdisciplinary supervisory team composed of at least two members. Advertised projects have been reviewed to ensure that they are innovative, offer the potential to make an important contribution to climate research, and provide a high-quality research environment.

Scholars benefit from and contribute to ClimateUEA activities. These include the annual ClimateUEA conference, theme workshops, interdisciplinary seminars, and mentoring. Multiple opportunities are available for public outreach activities, such as the Noirwich Festival, the Norwich Science Festival, and the Tyndall Centre Annual Assembly. 

Cohort training activities develop interdisciplinary skills, as they relate to data analysis, communication and complex systems. Students complete a training needs analysis and Personal and Professional Development Plan (reviewed on an annual basis) to ensure that training throughout the PhD meets individual needs and aspirations. Students have access to over 100 personal and professional development modules offered across Graduate Schools at UEA.

By the end of the 6-year programme, all graduates will be expected to contribute book chapters to a Critical Decade for Climate Change publication, and present at a final conference, taking stock of what we have learned about our Critical Decade, and setting the stage for future research needs.

The successful candidate who meets eligibility criteria (including English language requirements) will be awarded a 3-year and 8-month studentship covering tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£18,622 per year in 2023/24) and a research and training support grant.

In 2023 applications will only be open to candidates who are eligible for the Home fees rate. This includes EU candidates who have settled or pre-settled status within the UK.

These projects are advertised on a full-time basis. Applicants who are unable to study full-time (e.g. due to disability, neurodivergence or caring responsibilities) may still apply, but any offer to study part-time will be conditional on the University receiving permission from the Leverhulme Trust to offer this.

We are holding one further recruitment round for a PhD start date of 1st February 2024 (there is strictly no extension to this start date permitted).

To start your application, select a project from those above and follow the apply stages.

Only formal applications will ultimately be considered for funding. A conversation with prospective supervisors before applying is recommended, so that applicants can get a good feel for the project and what it will involve.

For more information on furthering your academic studies at UEA, please visit our Postgraduate Research pages.


In support of your application, you will be required to submit the following;

A Research Statement (up to 1500 words), which should include:

  • Your reason for applying for this project
  • Your career goals
  • An outline of how you will undertake the research
  • Your current knowledge and skills that will enable you to complete the research
  • Your training needs

A Personal Statement (approx. 500 words), in support of your application. You may wish to include some or all of the following points:

  • Your reasons for choosing the programme
  • How the course fits in with your future career plans
  • A work, placement, or voluntary experience that you have undertaken, which may be relevant to your choice
  • What you hope to gain from your programme and study in general

Academic Qualifications:

  • Scanned copies of your official degree transcript(s) and certificate(s)
  • If the originals are not in English, you will need to provide official translations. 
  • If you have not yet graduated, you should be able to obtain an interim transcript showing the results from your degree to date.

An updated copy of your CV

  • This may include further professional experience, publications, conferences attended, professional qualifications, etc.


  • You will need to provide the details of at least two people who can provide a reference in support of your application. At least one of these must be able to provide an academic reference. You should approach your referees in advance with details of the project(s) you are applying for and inform them of the deadline for applications.

English language proficiency

  • If English is not your first language or you are from a country that is not on the UKVI list of English-speaking countries, you may be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English language (more details are provided in the PGR how to apply pages).


Following the application deadline, supervisors will shortlist their applicants, interview, and nominate candidates for a further interview by the Critical Decade LDS interview panel. 



Interviews are currently expected to take place during the week commencing 4th December 2023. We plan to conduct the interviews in person on campus at UEA.


Studentship offers

The Critical Decade LDS Studentship Panel will meet shortly after the interviews to identify the strongest candidate. The studentship offer will be made as soon as possible after this meeting.

The Critical Decade LDS programme is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside significant relevant non-academic experience.


Any questions relating to the Critical Decade LDS programme, or the application process, can be sent to


Find out more about our
current PhD students