Motivation letter for a PhD application

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Anonymous:
Dear teachers,

Sometime ago I have submitted a motivation letter (similar to the letter below) for your review and you´ve kindly reviewed for me.

Meanwhile, I had to change some of its content and I´m not entirely confident with it.

Once again I would appreciate if you could peruse it for me.

Many, many thanks in advance,

Joana

PS: Congratulations for this forum!

---XXX----

Dear Sirs,

I graduated in Environmental Engineering in 1999 from XXXX University, Spain. During my studies I became very interested in the sustainable development (i.e. the “economic and social development that meets the needs of the current generation without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” according to the most universally quoted definition produced in 1987 by the Burndtland Commission, (WCED, 1988)), its principles and associated tools that allow the evaluation of potential risks and their prevention.

In the context of sustainability, during the final year of my degree, I worked directly with a local authority (XXXX City Council, Spain) to develop its “sustainable observatory” based on a set of indicators, which covered the environmental, social and economic areas. The “observatory” proved to be a very important tool for their Local Agenda 21, helping the decision makers to evaluate their local development plans, strategies and policies.

Once I completed my degree, I focused my professional career on the development of environmental and quality management systems, namely in companies related to construction industry. As I have always been involved with this particular industry, I became aware of the interesting and challenging connection between environment and built environment and became conscious that construction has the potential to cause severe impacts on the environment while having the incredible ability to enhance the environmental health, biodiversity and quality of life when applying the appropriate approaches and tools.

Between 1999 and 2002, I have worked in Spain as a consultant and developed environmental and quality management systems according to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 standards in ready mixed concrete and quarrying manufacturers.

In 2003, I came to England to do a Masters Degree in Quality Engineering Management from XXXX University, London, which I successfully completed with Distinction. When developing my Masters’ dissertation, I applied my research skills in a real case study in a company manufacturing a very well-known ready mixed concrete brand within United Kingdom. It was a real challenge and a very interesting experience, which convinced me to stay in England to reinforce my international experience in the construction industry.

Since March 2004, I have been working as QSE (Quality, Health & Safety and Environmental) Manager in a Civil and Structural Engineering Consultancy Company in London. Its main clients are the Highways Agency and local authorities and its services include: design and maintenance of highways; design, maintenance and inspection of highways structures; and development of regeneration projects.

Dealing with these entities, I have realised how important all the parties (from planers and local authorities to designers, constructors) are in terms of making the sustainability happen and how difficult it is due to the lack of appropriate or available tools, factual data and suitable communication between the different decision players. The reality is that these parties “often work within their own spheres, without reference or responsibility to each other, inevitably leading to unsustainable policies, programmes and projects (DFID, 1999). There is a need to build capacity for participatory and integrated planning for sustainable development between these organisations (DFID, 1999).



Although extensive research has been carried out with regards to sustainability and its implementation, there are still important unresolved questions concerning the practicalities of using these tools in real decision making contexts and their ultimate potential in helping to achieve more sustainable solutions, namely in Urban contexts.

Urban development and its linkage with sustainable principles is the area where I have particular interest and where I would like to develop a PhD thesis in order to identify and develop more practical and robust tools/techniques capable to enhance the capacity of policy-makers, managers, planners, public authorities and enterprises to identify from a range of options, the most effective in promoting and achieving the level of sustainability suited to their own circumstances, maximising the benefits in economic, social and environmental teams.



As XXXX University has important research activities in this area, I would like to be given the opportunity to be part of one of its prestigious research groups. I am sure that my passion to urban development and its environmental sustainability along with my skills, knowledge and competence would make me a valuable member of your research team. Hence, I would appreciate if you could consider my application for developing a PhD in Sustainable Development at XXXX University and I look forward to hearing from you.



Yours sincerely,

Joana
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