Posted on: 21 June, 2019
Application deadline: July 31, 2019

Funded PhD opportunity – Social Lives of Batteries and New Energy Materials, Lancaster University, UK

The Social Lives of Batteries and New Energy Materials

3 year, fully funded PhD opportunity for UK and EU Citizens, based in the Leverhulme Material Social Futures Doctoral Training Centre, and Sociology Department at Lancaster University, UK.

Enquiries to: Dr Nicola Spurling,

Closing date: 31st July 2019

Supervisor: Dr Nicola Spurling (nb a second supervisor appropriate to the successful candidate will be identified on appointment).

The Leverhulme Material Social Futures Programme and Lancaster Sociology are seeking a candidate for this exciting PhD opportunity. The position will suit applicants with a background in Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Material Culture or Science and Technology Studies. Experience of qualitative and ethnographic methods, and an interest in one of the following fields is desirable:  mobilities, science and technology studies, social practice theory, new materialisms, sociology of the future.

Specifically focused on new energy materials, battery technologies and electric vehicles, the PhD will follow batteries through the laboratory and into the possible forms of mobility and everyday futures which they might be part of. This might develop in a variety of theoretical and methodological directions, depending on the interests of the successful candidate, but should include:  i) conducting empirical research on how ‘the battery’ exists in the discourse and practices of material scientists that are working on new energy materials; ii) analysing how such assumptions have implications for the development of new materials and battery technologies; iii) creatively developing ‘everyday futures’ and imagined ‘social lives’ of future batteries.

The ultimate aim is to explore some of the alternative socio-technical lives of future batteries through focussing on futures of travel in different countries, in transformed vehicle ecologies, and in relation to changed end use practices. Through the Material Social Futures doctoral training centre, there will be many opportunities to engage in dialogue with material scientists (both staff and students), for example, through the MSF training programme, and with a thematically linked PhD in Chemistry on sustainable battery materials.

Informal enquiries prior to submitting an application are encouraged and can be made directly to Dr Nicola Spurling (

Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system. Applicants must put LEVERHULME under ‘source of funding’ in the application form. (


Further Information >>