EngD Studentship Catalyzing the development of an Open Software Community around corporate greenhouse gas emissions reporting with Carbon Disclosure Project

Faculty of Engineering

University of Bristol and University of Bath

The project

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an independent not-for-profit organisation that holds the largest database of corporate climate change information in the world, gathered on behalf of institutional investors, purchasing organisations and government bodies.

This project will address two linked research challenges:

Computer Systems Engineering:

  • What data-models, semantic web ontologies, middleware tools, analysis techniques and visualisation front-ends can be provided to support the open publication and exchange of corporate climate emissions data, and the developing of an open software community on top of this?
  • The project will aim to map out the space of options here, and develop prototypes including proto-standards where appropriate. This will support the ‘official’ process of reporting by corporations into various legal jurisdictions around the world and the exchange of data between different official data repositories.
  • It will also aim to catalyze the ‘unofficial’ use of this data by other stakeholders to build services on top of these. These could include analyst companies interested in risk assessment, NGOs interested in measuring the relative performance of companies against each other, and press organisations researching data for news stories.

Sociotechnical Systems Thinking:

  • How can this infrastructure be developed in such a way as to meet the objectives of the Carbon Disclosure Project: to encourage active reduction in GHG emissions by the corporate world?
  • What will maximise transparency and active engagement by corporations? This will need balancing the objectives of NGOs, press and individual activists with the sensitivities of the corporate world, and require developing an understanding of the views of both leading and laggard corporate players.
  • What is the role of proprietary ‘value added’ services versus freely available open services?
  • To what extent can a profit-oriented market-driven approach bring the software community into being, versus an open press/activist approach?
  • How can the two interact in a constructive way?

Candidate requirements


Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2.1) class honours degree (or equivalent) in computer science or related discipline.

Ability to work with different stakeholders to understand their motivations and requirements.

Ability to express ideas clearly, both in writing and presentation.


Experience of programming in XML.

Experience with semantic web technologies such as RDF and OWL.

An interest in, and knowledge of, corporate climate emissions.

An interest in systems thinking.


A tax-free EPSRC stipend (£15,090 for 2012/2013) will be available for the successful candidate and will be enhanced by a minimum of £3500 per annum from the company sponsor. Tuition fees will also be covered.

Due to funding requirements, the stipend and fees funding applies to UK applicants only. EU applicants are only eligible for the fees award.

Standard EPSRC studentship eligibility applies; non-eligible individuals are welcome to apply but must be able to find alternative funding arrangement. For further information see: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/Pages/eligibility.aspx

How to apply

Applications should be made online at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply

Please select ‘Systems Engineering (EngD)’ in the Programme Choice section and quote the title of the studentship in the Research Details and Funding sections of the form.


Academic: Dr Chris Preist chris.preist@cs.bris.ac.uk  

Administrative contact: systems-eng@bristol.ac.uk

Deadline for applications: 11th August 2013

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