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Civil Engineering PhD Studentships 2019-20 

Posted 01.04.19

Funded PhD: Monitoring systems for bridge Structural Health Monitoring

The failure or sudden closure of a bridge can cause transport chaos, e.g. closure of Forth Road Bridge in December 2015 caused massive disruption. The transport networks of the future must be robust against these kinds of shock events. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop condition monitoring techniques that aim to avoid such events occurring. The project will focus on identifying the condition of the bridge by monitoring its response to external factors (e.g. vehicle load, or temperature) using sensors attached to the bridge, (i.e. direct sensing). 

Ageing and deterioration of infrastructure is a challenge facing transport authorities worldwide. The proposed project aims to address this global challenge by developing novel, direct monitoring systems for bridges. It aims to harnesses multi-disciplinary expertise and exploit recent advances in low cost sensing technology. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a decision support system for bridge mangers which utilises relevant sensor data to assist decision making.

The project aims to address the challenge of managing our bridge infrastructure through the development of low-cost Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems. These sensors measure the response of the bridge to external factors (e.g. vehicle load, or temperature) using sensors attached to the bridge. The work will involve studying the kind of damage that commonly occurs in bridges, advanced numerical modelling to simulate bridge behaviour, collaboration with signal/image processors, scaled laboratory testing of various damage scenarios and full-scale field testing.

For more information, please contact:

Dr David Hester (  or Prof. Su Taylor (

Requirements: An accredited 2i or higher honours degree in engineering or related discipline.

How to Apply: Complete an application form via the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal

Deadline: 5th April 2019


Posted 25.03.19

Funded PhD: Impact of climate change on geotechnical infrastructure

Due to changing climate conditions, the underlying soil layer (mostly clay) in urban spaces are very prone to both drying (due to hot and prolonged summer) and wetting (due to intense and prolonged rainfall) phases. The underlying soil material develop cracks on the surface during hot summer and later tend to swell during intense precipitation. Thereafter causing risk of infrastructural failure and economic loss. Thus, as a protection measure, a novel climate adaptive composite barrier needs to be developed on laboratory scale and later can be tested on filed scale in such a way that the water holding capacity of the soil surface can be enhanced and vegetation growth can be supported simultaneously on the same soil layer. Likewise, the proposed technology would be used to protect shallow geo-infrastructure such as retaining walls.

Supervisors: Dr V Sivakumar and Dr J McKinley

For more information, please contact:

Dr V Sivakumar (

How to Apply: Complete an application form via the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal

Deadline: 5th April 2019


Posted 14.03.19

Funded PhD: Hydrological Impact of Peatland Restoration

Human activity has impacted peatland cover and the ecosystem services it provides all across Britain and Ireland over the past decades. More recently both British and Irish Governments have made significant financial commitments to restore damaged areas and their ecosystems as part of their strategies for tackling climate change. Although water forms a core element in restoration activities, changes in hydrological regimes as a result of restoration remain poorly understood. This research aims to address this issue.

This multidisciplinary research aims to quantify the benefits of peatland restoration in selected Irish bogs to determine realistic restoration targets and the most beneficial ways in which restoration activities can be undertaken. Work will initially focus on establishing baseline hydrological conditions in impacted areas, targeted for restoration, before comparing responses following engineered restoration measures, including drain blockage and the installation of cut-off walls.

This PhD research programme will involve working within the Queen’s University Belfast multidisciplinary Peatland Research Group, where the successful candidate will work with the existing experienced researchers and industrial collaborators. Field based activities will be supported by non-governmental organisations, engineering consulting firms and EU-funded INTERREG partners, to provide site access, state of the art hydrometric instrumentation and oversight on the use and analysis of high spatial and temporal data sets.

This scholarship covers tuition fees and a tax-free PhD candidate salary.  

For more information, please contact: Dr Ray Flynn

Requirements: Interested candidates should have the following:

  • A background in Environmental Science/ Environmental Engineering or a related discipline, with a final degree grade of II-1.
  • A full driving licence
  • Be able to work in both the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • Be flexible and prepared to carry out field work in both jurisdictions.

How to Apply: Complete an application form via the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal

Deadline: 5th April 2019


Posted 13.03.19

Funded PhD: Fluid / structure interactions during flooded scouring at FlexiArch / Masonry Arch Bridges

The consequences of the increased occurrence of flooding within the UK has led to significant cases of bridge collapse that are associated with localized river bed scour.  This project brings together researchers from the fields of structural and hydraulic engineering to develop a holistic approach to understanding the process that are dominant.  The project will be laboratory, computational and field based in nature, and will look at the application of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems to monitor and predict structural response to ambient flow conditions.

For more information, please contact:

Prof Gerard Hamill  or Prof Su Taylor

Requirements: An accredited 2i or higher honours degree in engineering or related discipline.

Availability: This studentship (stipend and fees) is available to UK, EU and International students.

How to Apply: Complete an application form via the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal

Deadline: 5th April 2019


Posted 13.03.19

Funded PhD: SALine INtrusion in coastal Aquifers (SALINA): Hydrodynamic Assessment and Prediction of Dynamic Response

The world’s population likes living by the sea.  Currently 53% of people live on the 10% of the earth’s surface that is within 200km of the coast. Meeting the needs of coastal communities forms one of the major challenges facing society in the 21st Century and in particular an engineering solution is needed to the provide sustainable fresh water supplies.  With its widespread availability and resilience to drought, groundwater can play a vital role in meeting this need.  Where too much water is extracted, saltwater can enter water supplies in a process called saline intrusion (SI).  This project will investigate the processes that govern this intrusion and develop the means to detect, and therefore prevent, any intrusion occurring.

The successful PhD student will join an existing team of multidisciplinary researchers from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Imperial College London (ICL) working in this area.

For more information, please contact:

Prof Gerard Hamill

Requirements: 2i or higher honours degree in Engineering, Geoscience or related discipline.

Availability: To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees), the candidate must have settled status in the UK (with no restrictions on how long they can stay) and been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant.

How to Apply: Complete an application form via the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal

Deadline: 5th April 2019


EPSRC DTP studentship (Posted 16.10.18)

Basalt FRCM composites characterization under static and dynamic loading

FRCM is a family of fibre reinforced composite materials using cementitious mortar as the composite matrix. Compared to fibre reinforced polymers (FRP), FRCM have enhanced material compatibility with concrete and masonry and low sensitivity to fires. FRCM composites have thus great potential for strengthening of existing structures and particularly for structures having artistic and historic significance.

This project will explore the performance of basalt composites under static and medium range dynamic loads and in different environmental conditions. It may consider application to masonry and concrete structural elements and will entail experimental testing and non-linear numerical modelling.

Principal supervisor Dr. Giuseppina Amato (

Deadline 30st June 2019

Starting date September 2019

How to Apply

Complete an application form via the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal. Details regarding eligibility criteria (including academic and residency criteria) are available at:


US-Ireland Studentship (Posted 08.10.18)

UrbanARK: Assessment, Risk Management, & Knowledge for Coastal Flood Risk Management in Urban Areas

The School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast currently offers a fully funded PhD position (3 years with the possibility of a 1 year post-doctoral extension) as part of the UrbanARK project.

The UrbanARK project is an international multi-disciplinary collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), University College Dublin (UCD) and New York University (NYU) funded under the US - Ireland Research & Development Programme.  The multinational project brings together leading researchers across the areas of geomatics, spatial data analysis, hydrology, computer science and risk communication to investigate innovative approaches for the collection and management of spatial data to refine flood risk assessments for urban coastal cities and to support immersive risk communication tools. 

The researcher will be based with the Centre for GIS and Geomatics and the Environmental Change & Resilience Research Group at QUB under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer McKinley and Dr. Ulrich Ofterdinger.  The researcher will focus on the acquisition and analysis of mobile LiDAR Scanning and other Remote Sensing data in the urban environment and support the integration of these data into numerical flood risk models and risk communication tools.  Research activities will include field-based activities in Belfast, Dublin and New York and data analysis in collaboration with collaborating research groups at UCD and NYU. 

Qualifications sought:

BSc/BEng 2(i) or higher and/or or an MSc/MEng; Geomatics, Geography, Geoscience, Environmental or Civil Engineering or related subject; must be numerate & familiar with IT; experience of Geographical Information Science (GIS) and digital data acquisition and analysis is advantageous

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Jennifer McKinley ( or Dr. Ulrich Ofterdinger ( for further details.


Bryden Centre Studentships:

Project title: Modelling the dynamic response of floating solar PV arrays to develop the basis of sustainable design

For further details contact: Prof. Trevor Whittaker (

Project title: Assessing the influence of inflow characteristics on tidal turbines

For further details contact: Prof. Trevor Whittaker (

Project title: Remote image analysis for resource assessment of tidal energy sites

For further details contact: Prof. Gerry Hamill (


How to Apply

To apply for any of the opportunities outlined above, please complete an application form on the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal.

The School warmly welcomes all enquiries regarding PhD research in Civil Engineering. PhD proposals can be developed in consultation with a potential supervisor based in the School; potential supervisors in Civil Engineering are listed below.

Further inquiries about funding opportunities should be directed to theSchool Postgraduate Admissions Officer.

Potential Supervisors in Civil Engineering

Dr Giuseppina Amato

Ms Tara Brooks

Prof. Jian Fei Chen

Mr Ron Coates

Dr Siobhan Cox

Dr Rory Doherty

Dr Trevor Elliot

Dr Ray Flynn

Prof. Gerry Hamill

Dr David Hester

Dr David Hughes

Dr Karimirad Madjid

Prof. Adrian Long

Dr Pauline MacKinnon

Dr Patrick McGetrick

Dr John McKinley

Dr Danny McPolin

Dr Xianhai Meng

Dr Sreejith Nanukuttan

Dr Kieran O'Driscoll

Dr Ulrich Ofterdinger

Dr Deborah Phillips

Dr Desmond Robinson

Prof. Wei Sha

Dr Vinayagamoothy Sivakumar

Dr Mohammed Sonebi

Prof. Marios Soutsos

Prof. Su Taylor

Prof. Trevor Whittaker