PhD student to conduct research in the field of environmental economics at the University of Southampton

Project Title: Preferences for ecosystem services

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Project Supervisor(s): Dr M Schaafsma (School of Geography), Dr E Mentzakis (Economics Division, Social Sciences)

Email Enquiry: For informal inquiries, please contact Marije Schaafsma:


Application Deadline: 31 December 2014


Environmental valuation methods can be used to assess the wellbeing that people attach to ecosystem services and express these values in monetary terms. These values can be used to inform social policy appraisal and support more sustainable ecosystem management. Standard monetary approaches tend to focus on the assessment of individual values of ecosystem services. However, these approaches have been argued to be less suitable for choices concerning trade-offs where fairness, altruism or cultural values play a role. These factors may influence how people make choices between different alternatives for ecosystem management, but may require different survey designs and techniques.

This PhD project will focus on such difficult trade-offs, and aims to (a) assess the role of social values for ecosystem service conservation, (b) use innovative valuation methods, and (c) contribute to the development of novel modelling approaches. The research will evaluate the use of different value elicitation formats of stated preference techniques (based on household surveys) for environmental valuation in a developing country context. This PhD will include a field research component in Malawi or Ethiopia, and will focus on deforestation issues that affect the different benefits that people derive from ecosystem services, including fuelwood, food, water etc.


You will join the Global Environmental Change and Earth Observation (GECEO) Research Group which conducts research in remote sensing with a focus on regional-to-global scale vegetation systems, and sustainability science with a focus on adaptation to climate change. We use cutting edge science and social science methods and are well placed to tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental and socio-economic problems. For details on our Research Group activities, please visit our web page at

Funding Notes:

This is one of a range of topics currently being advertised. Funding will go to the project(s) with the best applicant(s). The studentship is to be funded at RCUK level, currently £13,863 per annum, with an RTSG of £750. The studentship will fully support British and EU nationals only. International students can apply but they must be able to meet the difference between home/EU and International tuition fees themselves.


Candidates must have experience with quantitative methods, preferably for social or economic research; a first or strong upper second class degree in environmental science, environmental economics, econometrics, developmental economics, social sciences or closely related subject; an MSc in an associated subject would be advantageous; interest, and preferably some knowledge, training, education or experience with environment, poverty and equity issues.


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