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Fully funded PhD Studentship in Environmental Economics (Discrete Choice Modelling)

Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Environmental Economics (Discrete Choice Modelling)

Economic Incentives to Control Microplastic Pollution: An Analysis of Farm and Household Decision Making Using Discrete Choice Experiments

Start date: 1 July 2021.

The PhD student will participate in the Innovative Training Network (ITN) “Macro and microplastic in agricultural soil systems” (SOPLAS) project, which is funded via the European Commission within the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

The PhD will investigate farmers’ willingness to accept compensation for more environmentally friendly management alternatives that reduce current plastic loads; quantify the consumers’ willingness to pay for plastic-free production; and, incentives to increase recycling of household plastic waste.

SOPLAS is one of the largest EU funded projects focusing on the sustainability of plastic use in agriculture. Overall 14 PhDs, hosted by 11 research institutions, will be part of the program. The EU ITN PhD studentship therefore includes frequent travelling to the project study areas and half-yearly one-week training events distributed over several EU countries (Augsburg, Prague, Bonn, Zurich, Cordoba, Lancaster).

The successful candidate will benefit from network-wide interdisciplinary technical training events and also ones on networking, outreach, communication skills, career building, and research commercialisation. The PhD will culminate in an interdisciplinary session at European Geosciences Union congress (Vienna) on ‘Plastics in soils’. Moreover, the PhD will also involve two planned secondments of two months each at the University of Augsburg (Institute of Geography, Water and Soil Resource Re-search) and industry partner (Northumbrian Water) for up to one month.

Eligibility criteria

Researchers can be of any nationality but need to satisfy the eligibility requirements set for an Early Stage Researcher funded by Marie Sklodowska-Curie and you must be eligible to be appointed as an Early Stage Researcher:

The ITN stipulates that applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers (since the completion of their Masters degree) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. To foster international exchange, the applicants should not have resided in the United Kingdom for more than 12 months in the last 3 years (except for refugees).

Applicants should have a first-class master’s degree in applied economics/statistics, econometrics, environmental/agricultural economics or a related field. The successful candidate will have strong quantitative and/or regression analysis/econometrics skills and ideally have (1) experience of conducting field surveys involving discrete choice experiments; and, (2) an interest in spatial econometrics or Geographical Information Systems. A desire to work with farmers and rural communities is essential. Very good knowledge of spoken and written English is required.

Allowance depends on the personal circumstances of the fellow:

The PhD stipend covers 36 months. Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhDs are paid a competitive gross salary of €3,270 per month, adjusted for their host country, a Mobility Allowance of €600 per month and, for researchers who have a family, a Family Allowance of €500 per month. All amounts are subject to deductions and taxes. Family is defined as persons linked to the researcher by (1) marriage, or (2) a relationship with equivalent status to a marriage recognised by the national legislation of the country of the beneficiary or of nationality of the researcher, or (3) dependent children who are actually being maintained by the researcher; family status is determined at recruitment and does not evolve.

The PhD student will be associated with the Centre for Environmental and Energy Economics in the Durham University Business School and the prestigious Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), which actively research complex environmental and natural hazard issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. The PhD student will also benefit from the IHRR’s extensive global research network.

For further information, please contact Dr Ashar Aftab ( or Prof Ricardo Scarpa (

Please click here to apply and in the research proposal section state the following “EU ITN in Economic Incentives to Control Microplastic Pollution: An Analysis of Farm and Household Decision Making Using Discrete Choice Experiments”.