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Funding and scholarships for students

Award details

Upscaling and Accelerating the Transition Towards a Global Circular Economy. The University of Exeter Business School PhD in Circular Economy. Ref: 4458

About the award


Professor Fiona Charnley - University of Exeter Business School, Associate Professor of Circular Economy and Co-Director Exeter Centre for the Circular Economy.

Scholarship Description:

The University of Exeter Business School trains world-class researchers who will shape how we understand and respond to the most important societal challenges. We have a very generous funding scheme to support the most outstanding students who wish to complete a PhD in Circular Economy as part of the UKRI CE-Hub and Exeter Centre for Circular Economy.

Successful students will receive funding which includes a tax-free stipend of £19,000 that covers the 3-year PhD, and a tuition fee waiver. Students are additionally eligible for funding to support their research, development and conference attendance. The scholarship includes a requirement that students work as teaching or research assistants for 23 days (180 hours) a year. This is a valuable part of your training and will ensure that you graduate from the Business School as a highly skilled researcher and educator. The Programme is run on a full-time basis only.

Upscaling and Accelerating the Transition Towards a Global Circular Economy:

The linear take-make-dispose approach to economic growth is widely recognised as being non-sustainable. Developing and transitioning to other models requires multi- and interdisciplinary approaches.

The Circular Economy is a simple, yet compelling framework based on a set of clear principles that decouple resources from economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship. Analysis has indicated that scaling up circularity provides a multi-billion economic opportunity, driving up resource productivity, driving down material costs, improving resource security and reducing negative externalities and their human and environmental costs. In the wake of COVID-19 there is a significant opportunity for a more sustainable and resilient recovery. Recent reports propose that moving to a more Circular Economy can provide an essential element of the UK’s recovery plan, delivering increased clean growth, net jobs, higher resilience and regenerate natural capital. Additionally the Circular Economy can play a central role in tackling climate challenges and realising the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees post COP26.

To drive a Circular Economy at scale across value chains requires a systematic and systemic approach including: the future design of materials, components, products, services and business models that promote access and performance over ownership; closed loop and reverse logistics and whole system enablers and innovation, including the use of data, emerging technologies, leadership and behaviour change.

We are therefore seeking to support qualitative and quantitative doctoral research that increases the evidence base for circular economy implementation. To guide your essay the following are a few themes relevant to the programme however, we are keen to hear from researchers with innovative ideas and to support interdisciplinary research:

- Material, Product and Business Model Design,
- Value Chain Modelling,
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship,
- Circular Finance and Financing,
- Metrics and Indicators,
- Society, Consumers and Behaviour Change,
- Regenerative Systems,
- Digital Technology,
- Leadership and organizational structures and practices
- Policy, Legislation and Standards,
- Developed and Developing Economies. 

For more information about the scholarship and informal enquiries, please contact Professor Fiona Charnley:

How to apply

We are seeking world class researchers with a passion for shaping the theory and practise surrounding the transition towards a circular economy. Therefore, you will have an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (such as industrial design, innovation, supply chain management, sustainable development, environmental science, business management, economics, entrepreneurship, organisational psychology, engineering management, the social sciences and digital technology), with a final grade in the top 10% of your graduating class. We will expect you to hold a Masters Degree or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.

Your applications must include:

1. An essay of no more than 750 words maximum explaining (1) why you are applying for the scholarship, (2) why you are a suitable recipient of the scholarship and (3) your proposed area of research.
2. A CV of no more than 2 pages
3. The official transcript or certified copy of university grades from all past degrees
4. Two academic reference letters (one must be from your most recent institution) such as previous supervisors or academic tutors
5. If relevant, valid, original Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Cambridge score report (if required).

To apply, click on the “Apply Now” button above. You will be asked to complete the application form, and to upload the documents listed below by 1st June. Note, your application will not be considered if you do not upload all of the documents listed above in the specified form; please do not upload any additional documents as they will not be considered.

Application Timeline:

• Applications are due by 1st June 2022
• Short-listed applicants are invited to interview and psychometric testing in June-July 2022
• Orientation for new students takes place from September 2022

Short-listed applicants will be invited to an interview in June or July to meet faculty and discuss their candidacy. You do not need to contact faculty members before you make an application. Decisions on supervisors are made following the recruitment process. We do encourage you to read the faculty profiles on our website to see if faculty in the School have research interests relevant to what you wish to do.


Application deadline:1st June 2022
Number of awards:4
Value:Successful students will receive funding which includes a tax-free stipend of £19,000 that covers the 3-year PhD, and a tuition fee waiver.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Team