Developing a digital tool to drive sustainable business practices

One year enterprise-led funded Masters by Research, Ref. No. LU-131


  • Get paid £16,000 tax-free
  • Have your tuition fees reduced. Your partner company pays £2,200 towards your fees, meaning students eligible for home fees pay only £2,300. International students will need to pay the remaining £20,050.
  • Be part of the multi award-winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation within a cohort of talented graduates working on exciting business-led R&D.
  • The Centre is based at Lancaster University, so you will gain your Masters from a highly-ranked university, recognised as The Sunday Times University of the Year 2018 and International University of the Year 2020.
  • Work on exciting research, looking at how digital technology could be applied to the real-world problem of sustainable business development.
  • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas or progress on to further study.

Start: October 2021

Deadline: Midnight Friday 27th August 2021

This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


The Challenge

The development of a blueprint for an innovative digital tool to urgently drive forward sustainable business practices

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the global road-map to achieve a more sustainable and equitable world by 2030. To achieve them we need all actors, in every sector and working from the local to the global, to be able to identify, track and optimise their input. This includes a strong dependence on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), yet there is limited understanding or usage of SDG-aligned tracking to optimise business performance and impact. The focus of this Masters is to identify the blueprint for a digital tool able to address this gap, working with academics across Lancaster University and a new regional start-up, SDG Changemakers (

The project focuses on the consolidation of existing knowledge regarding state-of-the-art SDGs benchmarking tools through user-analysis (UK based MSMEs) and further data collection. The aim of the project is to produce comprehensive design recommendations for the creation of a digital tool that addresses MSMEs needs and blind spots regarding SDGs implementation, and enable MSMEs to map their advancement of the SDGs in a user-friendly and effective way.

Application Criteria

We are looking for a candidate who is enthusiastic about this research topic, with effective organisational and interpersonal skills. Candidates should have a background in Human-Computer Interaction (e.g., 2:1 and above degree in Computer Science, Design, Sociology, or another relevant discipline) with experience of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Candidates are required to submit a 1000-1500-word research proposal covering the rationale for the project, relevant literature, research aims, methodology and the project time plan. Further guidance and requirements of research proposals can be found below.

Enterprise and collaborative partners

This Masters by Research is a collaborative research project between Lancaster University, and SDG Changemakers. It will be supervised by Dr Lucia Cervi – Teaching Fellow in Management Ethics and Sustainability (Lancaster University Management School); Dr Alison Stowell – Senior Lecturer (Lancaster University Management School); and Dr Kelly Widdicks – Lecturer (Lancaster University School of Computing and Communication). The Directors from SDG Changemakers involved in the project are Felicity Jones and Claire Benson.

SDG Changemakers is a new virtual start-up business whose directors are based in South Cumbria and Lancaster. The Company specialises in sustainable entrepreneurism and consultancy. They help MSMEs understand social value and environmental sustainability and how it connects to the Global Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG Changemakers show organisations why the Sustainable Global Goals are good for business, as well as how to align the appropriate goals with business objectives and integrate them into business operations, including supply chain and markets. SDG Changemakers then empower business to measure the impact and communicate with purpose and authenticity.

Will & Alis

How do I apply?

Please complete and send all of the following documents to by the advert closing date:

Please send all of the above to: by the advert closing date.

Non-UK/home candidates

For information on home/international fee eligibility please see the university fee status webpage. From 1st January 2021, EU students are required to have a visa to enter into the UK as well as other international categories. Please check these details to see if you would need to apply for a visa and indicate this on your criteria document.

After the closing date the interview panel (consisting of the academic supervisors and business sponsor) will shortlist preferred candidates. These candidates will be invited to interview and where appropriate a candidate will be selected to deliver the project. A separate formal university application process is then completed following recommendation from the interview panel.

Deadline: Midnight Sunday 14th November 2021