Energy Institute seeks PhD proposals to raise energy industry safety performance

November 11, 2014

The Energy Institute (EI) seeks PhD proposals into new research to help the energy industry improve its safety performance.  Tuition and subsistence fees will be available for a three year full time study to commence mid-2015, using profits from the sale of the Hearts and Minds safety culture toolkit (


The Hearts and Minds toolkit was developed by Shell, based on research funded between 1980 and 2000 (key texts referenced below).  The Toolkit was published by the EI in 2004, and is used extensively in the energy industry and other industries to help improve safety culture, by engaging the workforce to help improve behaviour.  Within the broad remit of safety culture, the Toolkit focuses on issues such as supervision skills, managing rule breaking, and risk assessment.

The EI is a non-profit organisation, and will use some of the profits from the sale of the Hearts and Minds Toolkit to fund new research to energy industry improve its safety performance.  This new research may potentially turn into a new tool and form part of the Toolkit.

Topic area

The broad theme of the research should be on improving health, safety, and environment (HSE) performance through culture and behaviour. Within that, there are no restrictions on the topic of the research, and projects from all disciplines will be considered (psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.).  Example topics could include teamwork, the effects of bias on human performance, and decision making, but other original ideas would be very welcome.

Topics that tackle energy industry needs, have a practical application (e.g. adaptable to a tool), and show promise for improving energy industry HSE performance are most likely to be considered highly.

Proposal format

Proposals should:

  • Be set out clearly and succinctly, and be no more than 10 pages A4 in total.
  • Identify the proposed university of study.
  • Include a full CV of programme supervisor.
  • Include a full CV of the PhD candidate (if available).
  • Identify the level of engagement with industry (e.g. requiring just an external supervisor or also case study sites).
  • Describe the topic of study, the problem it intends to address, the hypothesis, the method of research, the expected deliverables, and a bibliography of key texts the project will draw upon.
  • Provide project cost, including tuition fees, student bursary, and disbursements.
  • Provide start/completion dates.

Selection criteria

Proposals that garner the interest of the EI’s industry partners will be shortlisted, at which stage the selection may be narrowed further through interview.  Only one study can be funded, with an expected start date of mid 2015.

Submittal instructions

Please submit your proposal, via email (PDF or MS Word document) to Stuart King e: tel: +44 (0)207 467 7163

Closing date for submission is 15th December 2014