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Newcastle University

ACHILLES PhD Studentships: Understanding deterioration of soil-based infrastructure in a changing climate (REF: ENGAC20)

ACHILLES is a £4.9M EPSRC-funded programme led by Newcastle University working with 5 other UK Universities, the British Geological Survey and stakeholders.

ACHILLES aims to combine new scientific understanding of the deterioration of engineered soils with statistical approaches, to improve design and management of long linear geotechnical infrastructure (primarily transport & flood protection). The outcome will be significant lifecycle cost savings for infrastructure owners/operators and reduced disruption to society.


The team are looking for 3 outstanding PhD candidates to join the team and make an active contribution to one of its Research Challenges (RC):

RC 1 - Deterioration processes: material-scale testing and modelling
RC 2 - Asset performance: slope-scale testing, monitoring and modelling
RC 3 - Forecasting and decision support: network-scale statistical modelling, and whole-life costing

We are particularly keen to recruit students to undertake research at one of our two full-scale field sites. The work will be a combination of monitoring, sampling and experimentation in line with the aims of RCs 1 and 2. Other areas of interest are:

  • RC1: Development of new constitutive models of deterioration in clay soils
  • RC2: Numerical modelling of engineered slopes to understand the long-term future impacts of climate change and/or develop methods of remediation/adaptation
  • RC3: Statistical approaches the synthesis of multiple data sources to properly quantify uncertainty for predictions of deterioration at the network scale

Successful candidates will expect to work in a team environment, make presentations at meetings and contribute to discussions with research and stakeholder partners. There may be opportunities for deeper engagement with industrial partners where appropriate.

This PhD project is primarily based at Newcastle University with Prof Stephanie Glendinning; Dr Ross Stirling; Dr Mohammed Rouainia; Prof Stefano Ultili; Prof Darren Wilkinson; Prof Chris Kilsby

Newcastle University

Eligibility Criteria

The applicant is expected to have a first-class or 2.1 degree; BSc or MSc degree in engineering, environmental science, mathematics, or other relevant field. Experience in a laboratory or field environment is desired where relevant.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

If English is not your first language, you should have IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

How to Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8040F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD Civil Engineering (full time) Civil Engineering (Geotechnical)’ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code ENGAC20 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code ENGAC20 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Application Closing Date

3rd April 2020


For enquiries, please contact Stephanie.Glend[email protected] or [email protected].

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