PhD Studentship - Sustainability Investment Analysis

University of Surrey

Guildford, Surrey
Stipend of £18,000 pa

Paid • Full Time • Fixed Term Contract

Sectors: sustainability

Closing date: Monday, 26th August 2019   1 day left

Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey

Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability: Project Brief
Project Title: Sustainability Investment Analysis
Sponsoring organisation: AVIVA Insurance

Project Overview and Background

Evaluating the profitability of an investment is at the heart of any investment decision, with the most popular method being Discounted Cash Flow, DCF. This method uses present values of future cash flows to identify the most profitable investment, but in doing so, systematically undermines long term sustainable development considerations, as well as environmental and social externalities.  As a result, more sustainable projects of equal profitability to others are discriminated against.

This project aims to explore and analyse new ways in which this can be redressed, be this through a change in the basic formula, smart inclusion of monetised cash flows and / or a change in the use of interest rates. The project ambition is therefore to develop and evaluate alternatives to the DCF method and the comparative significance of these alternatives towards making more sustainable investment decisions.

This may include re-evaluating past investment decisions, using simulation, develop case studies as well as the conduct of relevant interviews with key stakeholders in the Financial Services Industry, though probably not all of this.

The project will thus offer some answers towards:

  • Does the inclusion of social and environmental impacts in investment analysis make a difference to the choice of investments?
  • Are the alternatives offered better or worse than the existing practice in (a) making economically sound decisions, (b) manage the sustainability impact of investment to be better understood.
  • What is the potential acceptability of the new tool(s) amongst investment analysts?

Person specification


  • First degree with a 1st/2:1 in Accounting & Finance. Economics, Business & Management, Information Science, Data Analysis, Statistics or other relevant subject(s)
  • Interest and understanding of the investment sector and insurance
  • Knowledge of investment and economic dimensions of mainstream business
  • Interest in implications of sustainability for organisational decision-making.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills essential
  • Self-directed and motivated worker, results driven
  • Specific training / expertise are not required


  • Awareness of innovation process in industry with at least 2 years work experience
  • Appreciation of Sustainable Finance
  • Practical knowledge of Life-cycle thinking and Investment Appraisal methods
  • An appreciation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


All applications must be made through the online application form and include ALL of the following documentation to be considered:

  • Up to date cv
  • Cover letter including why this project is of interest and how your experience and interests make you a suitable candidate based on the specification provided - essential.
  • Degree certificates and transcripts
  • Contact details for 2 referees – 2x academic references or 1x academic reference and 1x other reference

Please Note: Your application will not be considered without all these documents and contact details for your references.

Please ensure you state specifically under ‘Research Area’ that you are applying for the AVIVA studentship.

Key Dates and Information

This project is due to begin on the 30th September 2019. The successful candidate will spend an initial 13 weeks in Guildford, UK undertaking intensive sustainability and personal development training, after which they will be predominately based at Heathrow.

Stipend: The successful candidate will receive a generous stipend of £18,000 per annum throughout this time. Stipends are usually tax-free and you will also benefit from an additional £500 p.a. allowance for attendance at conferences etc.

The programme will run for three years and is open to UK/EU students ONLY.

Fees: Full-time tuition fees (£4,327) will be covered by the PDS programme at the current Home/EU rate for the duration of the programme.

The deadline for applications is 23.59 on the Monday 26th August and Interviews will take place week beginning 2nd September. Applicants will be invited for interview via email on Thursday 28th.

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