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PhD Opportunities - The School of Law

4 Funded Interdisciplinary PhD Positions

Applications are sought for 4 funded interdisciplinary PhD positions at TCD, including a 25,000 annual stipend and PhD fees, one of which will be hosted by the Law School.

Successful applicants will work on the ASHA – Achieving Sustainable Housing Affordably – Project, involving research across Law, Geography, and Engineering. All researchers will receive interdisciplinary supervision across at least two of these disciplines. ASHA seeks to develop solutions for sustainable housing without exacerbating inequalities driven by housing affordability pressures.

Background: The ASHA project

Affordable housing is crucial to achieving sustainability goals and acts as a fulcrum between the social floor and the ecological ceiling. However, achieving complementarity between housing and sustainability is a serious national and global concern particularly under conditions of climate change. How do we develop and maintain housing stock that is both sustainable and affordable, across new and existing housing, and in the day-to-day use of housing while meeting this global challenge? The Achieving Sustainable Housing Affordably (ASHA) project will answer this question through four PhD topics by pioneering an innovative interdisciplinary approach that develops sustainable design solutions while recognising and responding to questions of power, equity, politics, and agency central to housing. ASHA seeks to achieve sustainable housing without exacerbating inequalities driven by housing affordability pressures. Bringing together social science and applied science approaches, and using skills from engineering, law and geography, ASHA will develop affordable techniques for sustainability in existing and new housing stock, and in housing usage.

Project 1 of ASHA - A Deliberative Pathway to Equitable Sustainable Housing

The transition to sustainable housing requires that policymakers understand the capacity and appetite of the state and land or building dwellers (whether owners or tenants) to bear the costs of sustainability measures. It also demands the progressive development of an ethic of ‘dweller responsibility’. This project will first map the legal landscape in respect of ‘targeted burdening’ in Ireland, assessing the ways in which legal protections for property rights constrain the policy space in housing. It will then assess the relationship between such legal rules and cultural dynamics in respect of private property that impede the development of an ethic of ‘dweller responsibility’. In order to give an empirical basis to the cultural dynamics at play, and to assess the potential for change, the project will then employ innovations in deliberative democracy that offer generative models for gauging public opinion while also transforming views. It will develop a deliberative forum on sustainable housing adaptations (for example building envelope enhancement, renewable energy integration, smart control and automation), which will engage and inform affordable housing users in order to: 1) identify existing support for sustainable housing measures that require dwellers to bear costs; 2) identify if and how appetites for sustainability-focused adaptations can be transformed through greater understanding of the benefits of technical and behavioural changes.

This project, which will be supervised in Law and Geography, has the following core components:

  • Connecting the legal landscape in respect of property rights protection with the parameters for policy change in Ireland in respect of sustainable housing;
  • Analysing the relationship between that landscape and wider cultural attitudes towards measures that burden individuals and/or distinct groups in the pursuit of sustainable housing;
  • Development a model for stakeholder engagement and education in respect of the collective and individual benefits of sustainable housing;
  • Providing information on existing attitudes to burden-sharing in pursuit of sustainability, and on the potential for transformation, which should in turn influence the future policy space for sustainable housing.


A high 2.1 or 1st class degree at undergraduate level in geography, planning, law, sustainability science or an affiliated area is essential; a relevant Masters degree is desirable.

Knowledge, skills and experience

The successful candidate will have:

  • A background in law, geography, planning, sustainability science, or affiliated areas at undergraduate and/or Masters level;
  • Excellent written and oral communication and interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to work well independently and collectively as part of the ASHA project.

Other desirable experience includes:

  • Experience of conducting empirical research as evidenced through a dissertation or Masters thesis;
  • Knowledge of the broad parameters of climate change and planning with knowledge of climate change adaptation and housing policy.

Application Procedure

Applicants should submit in one document: a cover letter setting out your motivation for applying for the role and how your skills meet the requirements set out in this document AND a full Curriculum Vitae to include the names and contact details of 2 referees (including email addresses), by Friday 15th December to Dr Rachael Walsh, email: Shortlisted candidates may be interviewed in early 2024.