Competition funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



Operations and Systems Management

Start dates

October 2024

Application deadline

19 January 2024

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Business and Law, and will be supervised by Dr Jana Ries, Dr Negar Akbari and Dr Becky Canning

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive £2,000 for fieldwork purposes.

Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Identifying interdependencies of port operations and flexible energy demand management.
  • Exploring decision support structures to allow for improved operational performance in ports.
  • Developing a simulation study to understand the impact of uncertainty on operational performance in flexible energy demand management.

Decarbonising ports presents one of the greatest challenges in transitioning to a net zero future. Portsmouth International Port is taking an active lead through shore side power solutions, and the 4.5 years SEACHANGE (Sustainable Energy and Air Quality Improvement for Coastal Harbours to Achieve Net-zero with Grid Enhancements) project will provide a portside solution to emissions reduction. This PhD will work alongside industry partners (Portsmouth International Port, Brittany Ferries, Iotics, B4T) and multiple academics from across the University over the three-year demonstrator phase of the £23M project, enabling the PhD researcher to help deliver actionable solutions to the maritime problem. 

Sifakis and Tsoutsos (2021) provide an extensive overview of current zero-emission planning studies, outlining the need to consider port-specific characteristics, business plans and strategic aims, in light of the absence of global key criteria for emission-free ports. One of the key considerations outlined is the requirement for integrated operational decision making for resource planning to allow for the most efficient and effective use of available demand. This provides optimal conditions to support strategic decision making in the context of energy management with the aim to minimise pollutants and GHG emissions. 

Smart Energy Demand Management profoundly influences the design and potential benefits of initiatives to reduce adverse impacts of strategic energy shifts within ports and are expected to critically interact with operational decision making in ports. The successful applicant will be engaging with current literature on smart energy management and operational decision making in ports. The outcome of this is anticipated to be discussed with project stakeholders in order to understand critical interactions within the particular port case study. The project is initially going to focus on bottlenecks and explore selected decision support opportunities before simulating a holistic view of the operations and providing insights into potential further uncertainty in the context of smart energy demand management. The successful applicant will be required to be implementing relevant elements of the decision support approach but will be able to benefit from the digital twin development that is taking place with the SEACHANGE project.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Demonstrable expertise in Optimisation (e.g. Heuristics/Metaheuristics) and/or Multi-Criteria Decision support. 
It is desirable for candidates to have an understanding of one or all of the following:

  1. Maritime operations
  2. Energy management
  3. Basic experience in programming and an understanding of Data Analytics

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Jana Ries ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code OS&P8950124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.