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E-Drone: Transforming the energy demand of supply chains through UAV to-land logistics for 2030

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

PhD studentship - E-Drone: Transforming the energy demand of supply chains through integrated UAV to-land logistics for 2030.

E-Drone is an EPSRC funded project that seeks to examine the energy reduction potential of logistics solutions involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating alongside sustainable last-mile delivery solutions (cargo cycles and walking porters via micro-consolidation points). This involves understanding UAV operations in airspace shared with manned aircraft. The project focuses on a case study and trials based around NHS pathology sample transportation in the Solent region.

The successful candidate will gain experience of working with an interdisciplinary research team, commercial partners and public sector organisations tackling an important contemporary challenge. There will be opportunities for involvement in a live UAV trial, to publish with the team, present findings at conferences and gain experience of other dissemination and knowledge exchange activities.

The successful candidate will have a social science background and the ability to travel within the UK and overseas. Experience in the transport field and skills in interview and questionnaire methods are desirable.

This project is conditional upon the funding being secured.

Key information

Next start date:

26 April 2021


Lansdowne Campus, Talbot Campus


36 months

Entry requirements:

Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA), or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent.

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent). For more information check out our full entry requirements

Project details

This PhD studentship is aligned to the E-Drone project and will focus predominantly on understanding stakeholder concerns about UAVs. This is anticipated to involve stakeholder interviews/questionnaires and analysis of contemporary media to explore representations of UAVs in order to understand public concerns and determine how they empower or constrain pathways to adoption. This will inform policy/governance interventions and a simulation training tool to help stakeholders and the general public understand the environmental and governance implications of introducing shared UAV-primary logistics systems under various future scenarios. The project outcomes will inform UAV management policies, optimal deployment rules and multi-modal supply chain integration involving UAV-to land logistics interchanges which have been highlighted as a key requirement by the DfT, CAA, NATS and our logistics partners, and will contribute to international research.

The PhD studentship specifically responds to calls for more profound understanding of how people frame autonomous vehicles, especially UAVs given current reputational damage from rogue use, and a need for stakeholders and the wider public to interact with realistic UAV use settings to inform guidance on the design and use of integrated logistics facilities.

View the full project description (PDF 190Kb).

The closing date for applications is 13 January 2021.


Professor Janet Dickinson

Prof. Janet Dickinson is based within the Bournemouth University Business School, where her research focuses on transport, mobile technology and collaborative communities, underpinned by a sustained interest in the social experience of time. Her funded research has been instrumental in developing the concept of slow travel and, more recently, analysed mobile enabled collaborative communities. She is currently exploring how the Internet of Things may transform reciprocal practices to bring about more sustainable travel, health and well-being benefits for a variety of communities. Her teaching spans the Tourism, Leisure and Event Management undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Prof. Janet's research is focused on transport, tourism and community taking a geographical perspective. Current research explores the locative, temporal, social networking and database properties of smart phones, to anticipate opportunities for transport connections and collaboration that are otherwise invisible. This offers opportunities to better utilise the transport resources available with the ultimate aim of reducing car travel.


A fully-funded Studentship includes a maintenance grant of £15,225 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.

Associated costs, such as for fieldwork and conference attendance, will also be met under the Studentship.

Academic support

The Research Development Programme, developed by the Doctoral College in line with the Researcher Development Framework (Vitae).

An added benefit is the opportunity to meet researchers from other academic schools at BU through the activities of the Doctoral College and benefit from their experiences, skills, and perspectives.

Full entry requirements

The BU PhD Studentships are open to UK, EU and International students.

Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

  • Outstanding academic potential as measured normally by either a 1st class honours degree (or equivalent Grade Point Average (GPA) or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent
  • An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language and this must be evidenced at point of application.

In addition to satisfying minimum entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

Applicants will be asked to submit an online application form and a proposal (approximately 1500 words) outlining their understanding of the project for which they are applying, the approach they would envisage taking and what qualities they will bring to the research community.

Please note:

  • Current BU Doctoral students are not eligible to apply for a Studentship
  • Current MRes/MPhil students can apply, subject to satisfactory completion of their Research Degree prior to being able to take up the award
  • PhD Studentships cannot be used to support BU staff to complete doctoral programmes.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally: 

IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 (with a minimum 6.0 in each component) or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

How to apply

Click the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the page and complete the online application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section.

The closing date for applications 13 January 2021.


A research degree can open new career opportunities in commercial research and development, consultancy, or could lead you to starting your own business. You may alternatively consider a career in academia. You may wish to undertake research to contribute to your knowledge of a specialist subject or develop your employability by enhancing your skills in project management and analysis.


The Doctoral College

See how we work alongside Academic Schools and the Faculty to support the postgraduate community at BU.

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Fees and funding

Find out about the fees and different funding options for postgraduate research degrees.

All statistics shown throughout this page are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.