Research course

Energy and Sustainability

Open University · Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 in a technical or appropriate social science discipline, depending on the project proposed.

Months of entry


Course content

For more than thirty years The Open University has been active in considering the relationship between energy and sustainability. We have research interests in electricity technology and policy, including the growth of renewables. We have much interest in energy recovery from end-of-life materials. We are also active in seeking to understand the behaviours of energy users and the linkage of those behaviours to the built environment and design. Our research involves laboratory-based investigation, desk-based assessments and qualitative research engaging with human subjects.

Current/recent research projects Jacky Bourgeois is pursuing a PhD under co-tutelle arrangements between the OU and Université de Rennes 1 in France. His PhD work is supervised by Gerd Kortuem, Janet van der Linden and Blaine Price at The Open University, and by Benoit Baudry and Johann Bourcier at INRIA/Université de Rennes 1. His research centres on energy management and energy-user behaviour in the residential context and focuses on reducing the energy gap through energy demand shifting and local energy generation feedback.
Potential supervisors
  • Dr Carl Boardman, Department of Engineering and Innovation
  • Dr Sally Caird, Department of Engineering and Innovation
  • Dr Satheesh Krishnamurthy, Department of Engineering and Innovation
  • Professor William Nuttall, Department of Energy and Innovation

Department specialisms

One proposed experimental project seeks to assess the potential for useful energy conversion from anaerobic digestion of end-of-use plastics and other synthetic materials. One desk-based project seeks to explore the relationship between city design and low-energy futures. The OU has a rapidly growing programme of research into hydrogen science, technology and policy. Hydrogen has the potential to be a major low-carbon energy carrier in the future. There may be opportunities for PhD projects in these areas.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months
part time
72 months


distance learning
variable months
part time
24 months
full time
15 months

Course contact details

Professor William J. Nuttall
+44 (0)1908 655113