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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU)

The CDT in ReNU is an added value doctoral training programme that will create the next generation of specialists in small scale renewable and sustainable distributed energy applications.

Over the next decades, global demand for electricity is set to soar driven by new applications including for example, the transition to zero carbon emissions vehicles, autonomous electric aero-taxis, wearable devices and healthcare that extends beyond hospital walls. In order to meet this demand and place the United Kingdom in a leading position, highly skilled doctoral graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines are needed.

ReNU is offering a 4 year training programme through funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), that will create the next generation of specialists, in small scale renewable and sustainable distributed energy applications.



ReNU students can expect:

  • Fully paid fees
  • An annual stipend at UKRI rates (for 2020/21, this is £15285)
  • An international training programme
  • A comprehensive added-value training package
  • Broad links to the energy industry
  • Significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Please note that the scholarship award is set at the Home/EU level of fees. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. For further details on eligibility, please see Annex 1 (pages 17 - 21) in this document.

All open positions can be found on ReNU’s dedicated recruitment page here.

Why do a PhD in the ReNU Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT)?

The CDT in ReNU is a collaboration between Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham Universities. The unique co-location of this expertise in the North East of England will allow you to access state-of-the-art research equipment and high quality supervision.

Doing a PhD at ReNU is no ordinary PhD! In addition to working on a research project at the frontiers of science and engineering, you will benefit from significant additional training over the course of a 4-year programme. This includes business and innovation training, energy policy and opportunities for international travel.

A key objective of ReNU is to develop doctoral graduates who have excellent scientific and technical skills while at the same time, are readily able to understand the business context for innovation in the energy sector. This means that you will develop an understanding that spans from molecules to systems as well as the environmental, political and societal implications for energy research.


ReNU offers projects within the following topics:

  • Batteries and storage
  • Biofuels
  • Energy Conversion, Transmission and Delivery on the Grid
  • Earth Abundant Materials
  • Fuel cells and hydrogen
  • Marine, Wind and Tidal Turbines
  • Photovoltaics
  • Smart grids and systems
  • Solar Fuels

Training Program

In additional to individual institutional training programme, ReNU will provide cohort training. The training programme consists three parts: core modules, optional modules and flexible modules. The general structure of the ReNU training programme is illustrated in figure 1 below. Note that this is provisional and subject to change.

The first year of the CDT training programme aims to provide you with fundamental knowledge of renewable and sustainable energy technologies (C2). This includes the physical principles behind batteries, fuel cells, solar cells and many other devices and materials found at the cutting-edge of energy research. Importantly, the energy sector extends well beyond a single technology and the factors which determine the success or failure of a clean energy technology include policy, economics and society. Some of these factors are considered in C4 which sets the context for innovation in the energy sector. 

In addition to developing knowledge, the first year focuses on developing key skills for research relating to analysis, communication and responsible research and innovation (C3). The combination of this training with optional training modules and the flagship CDT Week will provide a solid background for success in the following years.  Note also that equality, diversity and inclusivity is an important theme within ReNU and all students and academic staff will received training in this area.

The second year includes further training in whole energy systems and you will have the opportunity through an extended mini-project (C5) to consider your individual research in a broader context. The second year allow allows you to develop key skills in innovation (C6) and business (C7a) with specialists in this area. It is also the intention that every ReNU student will have an international experience (C8) and presently, this includes a visit to the Institute for Clean and Renewable Energy in Wuhan, China.

In the third year of your training, there is increased emphasis on your individual research project as you become the expert this area. This is mixed with another extended group mini-project aimed at tacking an industrial R&D challenge (C9). You will also complete the second part of a mini-MBA business training (C7b) during this year.

The fourth year of your project is focused on finishing your thesis (including writing up) and consolidating all your training such that you are ready for employment after your PhD.

Ten core modules covering scientific fundamentals and principles relevant to RE and DE, introduction on whole energy systems, research skills and methodology, business and innovation, interaction with industry to tackle industrial challenges and enhancing employability.


Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 1st Class (Hons) or 2:1; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above) in an appropriate subject area. Please see project description for further details
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required

Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study.

How Do I Apply?

ReNU invites applications from top quality graduates with a degree (or about to gain a degree) in physics, chemistry, engineering or mathematics or equivalent. You should have, or expect to obtain, at least an upper second class degree and be strongly motivated by doing independent research. ReNU also welcomes applications from mature students.

If you wish to discuss your application informally then please contact the relevant ReNU Institution Director for the project you are interested in which at Northumbria is Dr Vincent Barrioz (, at Newcastle, Dr Elizabeth Gibson ( and at Durham, Dr Chris Groves (

If you wish to apply, please see the list of available projects on our dedicated recruitment page

Application Process for Northumbria University projects:

Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RENU20/.....) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Application Process for Durham University Projects:

For this project you must apply through the Durham University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please navigate to the website here and select ‘Apply now’ followed by ‘Apply for postgraduate study.’

When completing your application, please ensure that you note that you are applying for the appropriate ReNU project by completing the application fields as follows:

Course details

  • Select ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you been in contact with a potential supervisor?’
  • Complete the ‘intended supervisor’s name’ with ReNU/’Supervisor name’
  • Complete Engineering as the Department


  • Select ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you applied, or are you going to apply for a scholarship?
  • Select ‘other’ from the drop-down list under, ‘Please indicate which scholarship you have applied for’
  • Complete ‘Please enter the name of the Scholarship you have applied for or will be applying for’ with ReNU/’Supervisor name’

Application Process for Newcastle University Projects:

Applicant should include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and include the advert reference number.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. You will need to:

  • Insert the programme code 8208F in the programme of study section
  • Select PhD Energy Materials as the programme of study
  • Insert the advert reference number (e.g. renu20-02) in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • Attach a covering letter and CV, quote code (e.g. renu20-02), and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.


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