E.U./U.K. nationals: PhD - Understanding Domestic Water Use Behaviour

Cranfield University

Cranfield, , GB

UK & EU only

Duration: 4 years


  • 1st Supervisor: Dr Heather Smith
  • 2nd Supervisor: Prof Paul Jeffrey          

Ref No: SWEE0100

Sponsored by EPSRC and an industrial partner, this studentship will provide a bursary of £19,000 * per annum plus fees for four years.              

This exciting fully funded PhD, will deliver innovative insights around domestic water use behaviours and the use of ‘smart’ water use sensors, in order to support more resilient water services well into the future against a backdrop of significant challenge.

Students will benefit from being part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe), a world leading collaboration between three universities. The WIRe programme includes a bespoke training programme in technical and personal skills development, and provides opportunities for overseas travel and access to world leading experimental facilities (PhDs under this scheme are for a duration of four years full time).

This project seeks to better understand domestic water use behaviours, and particularly washing behaviours – both personal washing (showering, bathing) and household washing (dishes, laundry) – and their contribution to overall water conservation. Washing behaviours are a useful focus because they are typically ‘hidden’ (in that they occur mainly within the household) and therefore not necessarily subject to the same social pressures as more publicly visible behaviours (such as the use of plastic bags). The aim will be to understand the situatedness of, and potential influences on, such behaviours (with a focus on the UK context), and explore the potential role of smart in-home water use sensors, using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Depending on the specific skills and interests of the successful candidate, this project could make a contribution of the fields of behavioural psychology, society and technology studies, human-environment interactions, and ‘big data’ analytics.

The project will deliver innovative insights around domestic water use behaviours and the potential effectiveness of different techniques and approaches to promote behaviour change, including use of ‘smart’ water use sensors. There is also the potential to help Cranfield University develop innovative strategies to support more sustainable water use behaviours on campus, as part of the university’s ambitious environmental targets.

By looking at water use behaviours in the context of more resilient water services, this project is uniquely positioned at the interdisciplinary boundary between social sciences and engineering. The successful applicant will make use the suite of water use sensors installed on the Cranfield campus as part of the UKCRIC urban observatory.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as environmental psychology, human geography, environmental studies, or water science.

The ideal candidate should have some understanding of water supply services and/or sustainable behaviour and be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest in applied social research.


*To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national.

How to apply

For further information please contact:
Dr Heather Smith
[email protected]
(0) 1234 750111 Ext: 4853

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.





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