PhD research positions


The department of Governance and Technology for Sustainability (CSTM) offers attractive opportunities for doing a PhD project within the CSTM research field (see RESEARCH). A focus may be applied to one of the three main CSTM themes (Energy Transition, Greening of Industry, and Water Governance), or may be cross-cutting. A project may have an emphasis on one of three disciplinary approaches (Policy studies and transition, Law &Regulation, and Economics and modeling), but may also be of a multidisciplinary nature.

You will do your PhD research under supervision of at least one full CSTM professor and with one co-supervisor from senior CSTM Staff. Supervisors will assist you in your projects and will assess if you make good progress. Upon completion of your PhD thesis, a public defense and approval by a PhD committee, you will receive a doctorate from the University of Twente. On average a PhD-projects takes (at least 3 to, mostly) 4 years to complete, assuming fulltime availability.

When you do a PhD at CSTM, not only will you be enrolled in the Twente Graduate School (see below and TGSinter alia offering attractive PhD courses), but you can also use a (flexible) workspace in the CSTM offices and meet, discuss and collaborate with fellow CSTM PhDs. Not all PhDs work at CSTM permanently: often there is field work involved in the research projects and PhD-researchers may be as far away as Asia, Africa or South America, sometimes research is partly done elsewhere for reasons of joint or private financing of the project. As a rule CSTM wants PhD-researchers to do a major part of their research from within the CSTM-offices in close contact with supervisors and fellow PhDs.


There are two types of PhD positions:

  1. Designated PhD positions: When CSTM secures a grant for a specific research project, it can offer a PhD-grant to promising researchers under guidance of a full professor and a senior researcher. Whenever such a grant is available, it will be advertised on this website, next to other usual outlets, like “Academic Transfer”.
  2. Open PhD-positions: When a promising researcher presents a PhD project idea to CSTM, having herself/himself secured adequate personal funding for completing a PhD-research project, then CSTM may admit this researcher to do the research project with CSTM under guidance of a full professor and a senior researcher. Admission is dependent on meeting several conditions, as listed further below (see CONDITIONS SPECIFIC TO OBTAINING AN OPEN PHD POSITION).

Some recent examples of successful PhD projects that were proposed by the researchers themselves and supervised from within CSTM are:


Currently the following research themes, are available for doing open PhD-projects with CSTM (upon meeting conditions listed below). Although this list does not rule out the possibility of other subjects being accepted, this is far less likely to happen.

The below list presents clusters of research subjects, each involving a particular approach to the CSTM field of Governance & Technology for Sustainability and involving different key supervisors. These approaches are: Economics & Modelling, Energy Transition (and Gender), Law & Regulation, Policy Studies (Water Governance/Greening of Industry).

Economics & modelling Aspects of Governance & Technology for Sustainability.

Research with substantive Economics and modelling content can be done under supervision of dr. Tatiana Filatova, and a senior researcher dependent on best fit & availability, especially on (combinations of) the following themes:

  1. Agent-based modelling
  2. Economics of land-use
  3. Economics of climate change
  4. Modelling regimes shifts in coupled socio-ecological systems

Energy Transition (& Gender) Aspects of Governance & Technology for Sustainability.

Research with substantive social science content using primarily qualitative approaches, with gender as a cross-cutting concept, can be done under the supervision of Prof. dr. Joy S. Clancy, and a senior researcher dependent on best fit & availability, especially on (combinations of) the following themes:

  1. Gender, Energy Poverty and Sustainable Livelihoods – gender-energy-poverty nexus in rural and urban areas including influencing factors and processes which enable better access to clean energy; energy and sustainable livelihoods; energy policy and social goals, such as promoting poverty reduction; gender as a factor influencing energy choices at macro-, meso- and micro-levels.
  2. Energy transition – organisational structures and enabling processes promoting access to sustainable energy services; human factor in energy systems, such as motivations and responses.
  3. Biofuels – energy-water-food nexus; governance of the energy value chain.
  4. Energy use & energy management in small & informal sector business in the South – role of energy in sustainability of SIs; frugal innovation as energy management; energy and entrepreneurs, such as business models for energy services; innovative approaches for promoting energy management; gender as a factor in energy and SI sustainability; institutional and organisational models promoting energy management in SIs.

Law & Regulation Aspects of Governance & Technology for Sustainability.

Research with a substantive Law & Regulation content can be done under supervision of prof. dr. Michiel A. Heldeweg LL.M, and a senior researcher dependent on best fit & availability, especially on (combinations of) the following themes:

  1. Energy Transition – Legal and/or regulatory governance aspects of policies and projects concerning societies moving towards a sustainable energy provision, such as the design of new legal frameworks or organization forms (e.g. PPPs) and the development and use of smart grids.
  2. Green Business/Materials – Legal and/or regulatory governance aspects of policies and projects concerning the greening of Industry and especially of supply chains and enhancing a circular economy (e.g. waste to resources/energy), such as by the use of standardisation & certification, legal project management and by enhancing transparency and stakeholder involvement.
  3. Water Governance - Legal and/or regulatory governance aspects of policies and projects concerning quantitative or qualitative water management, involving multilevel and multi actor (PPP)
  4. Concepts & Sustainability - Legal and/or regulatory aspects of key concepts regarding sustainability, such as the sustainability, precautionary and ALARA principle, the legal standing of natural objects, animals & plants.
  5. Regulation & Sustainability – Legal and/or regulatory aspects of policies and projects that involve innovative types of rules and regulation (e.g. Smart), such as certification, real-time regulation, tradable rights schemes, experimental regulation, transnational standard-setting, monitoring & enforcement.
  6. Governance & Sustainability – Legal and/or regulatory aspects of policies and projects regarding the institutional character and/or the functioning of competitive markets and/or of civil society/community initiatives and/or of government, as well as cross-cutting modes of governance (and hybrid organizations) as regards the production and allocation of goods and services with a relevance to enhancing sustainability, and finally multi-level governance relations, such as between trans-, international, supranational and national levels of governance.
  7. ICT & Sustainability – Legal and/or regulatory aspects of policies and projects concerning the role of ICT in achieving sustainability objectives, such as product and service efficiency, responsible use of big data towards improving policy and business efficiency and effectiveness, transparency etc.
  8. Justice & Sustainability – Legal studies concerning Environmental and Energy Justice in different dimensions and scales, such as global north vs global south, gender and other human rights, concerns, enforcement of law/rights concerning sustainability.
  9. Robotics & Law – Legal aspects of the development and use of robotics in modern day and future societies and smart cities, in the field of transport (drones & driverless cars), care & cure, and industry.
  10. Law, Governance & Technology Studies – Legal studies on the relationship between Law & Governance, Law & Technology, and Law, Governance and Technology, such as involving transition or innovation studies, the changing role of the (regulatory) state etc.

POLICY STUDIES Aspects of Governance & Technology for Sustainability.

Research with a substantive Policy Studies content can be done under supervision of prof. dr. Michiel A. Heldeweg LLM, and a senior researcher dependent specializing in the following themes:

  • Water Governance & Policy - Interactions among water policies and other sectors such as energy, agriculture and land use; public participation in water governance; justice and equity in water governance; governance of non-conventional water resources such as desalination and wastewater treatment and reuse; methodologies for transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in water governance and policy; cross-cutting perspectives such as the water-food-energy nexus and gender analysis
  • Greening of Industry Governance & Policy (further information to follow)
  • Energy Transition Governance & Policy (further information to follow)


In principle, an application for an open PhD-position can only be awarded when all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Fit between the proposed research topic and pre-specified CSTM research themes
    To be accepted by CSTM, applications for PhD research should demonstrate a strong fit with one or more of the topics on the above list of research themes.
  2. Availability of supervisory capacity within CSTM
    Even when there is a sufficient fit with a given research topic (see. 1.), it may be that the supervisor(s) that are linked to the topic are not (at that moment) available, given their involvement in existing research projects or other tasks.
  3. Positive indications of a candidate’s research competence in the relevant field
    An application should ideally come with a proposal that has been awarded a research grant (also see 5.) by an organization with a recognized academic reputation upon intrinsic assessment of the related research proposal. Still, alternative proof of a candidate’s abilities is possible, such as examples of academic work written in English, or endorsement by academic peers (e.g. MSc. thesis supervisors).
  4. Having an academic master degree in a relevant discipline
    The candidate must have an academic master degree in a relevant discipline, such as Public Administration, Public Policy, Political Science, Policy Studies, European Studies, Business Administration, Economics, Law, Sociology, Anthropology, Development Studies, Systems Science, Sustainability Science, Energy Management, Energy Engineering, Water Management, Water Engineering, Environmental Management, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Civil Engineering.
  5. A candidate’s continued and substantive availability to do the PhD-research
    Sufficient research progress requires that a candidate is available at least 3 days per week for a consecutive period of 4 years to do the PhD-research, and that it is possible to spend at least 3 months each year at CSTM.
  6. Adequate own funding on the part of the candidate
    CSTM cannot offer grants for research, nor for travel and living expenses (. Such funding will have to be demonstrably secured by the candidate him or herself, preferably on the basis of a research grant from an external funding organization (as explained in no. 3). In addition to covering the travel and living expenses, this external grant should also include a yearly tuition fee of (about) € 5,000 (so in total € 20,000 over a four year period). When the external funding organization has demonstrably no option for including a tuition fee in the budget, the department can possibly provide a partial or full waiver for this fee.
  7. Proper command of the English language
    Candidates need to provide proof of proper command of the English language. An IELTS score of at least 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 80 (TOEFL/IBT) or 550 (TOEFL/Paper) is taken as a general minimum. Further, the research proposal and application for a position with CSTM must be written in proper English by the applicant himself/herself .


As PhD-research at CSTM is positioned in the ‘Twente Graduate School’ (TGS; which is part of the University of Twente), several TGS-related conditions apply, amongst which:

  • A monitoring system, including a ‘go-no go’ qualifier after 6-9 months into the research, and periodical progress meetings and reports.
  • The obligation to follow a 30 EC program of PhD-dedicated courses, such as methodology of social sciences and career-development. (A waiver is possible when similar activities or objectives have already been undertaken or achieved elsewhere.)


Applications for open PhD positions at CSTM should be sent to Mrs. B. van Dalm-Grobben (, with reference to one or more of the topics/supervisors mentioned above.