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A critical exploration of the use of digital tools to aid construction quality.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 29, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast offers a three-year Department for the Economy (DfE) funded PhD studentship (starting September 2019). The researcher will be based in the Elmwood building at Queen’s University Belfast under the supervision of Tara Brooks.

Quality issues have plagued the construction industry for decades from Ronan Point in 1968 to the Edinburgh Schools PFI scandal in 2016 and more recently the Grenfell Tower disaster. This project will explore whether these recurring problems stem from structural inequities in industry (Green, 2011; Farmer, 2016); from reliance on analogue technology in an increasingly digital world; from a combination of the two or from some other cause. Moving beyond BIM, it will critically assess how far the deployment and use of digital technologies in construction and the digitalisation of the industry can take construction towards improvements in building delivery.

The application process

Applicants are invited to write a 500-word (maximum) research outline which gives details of:
- Suggested research questions to be explored
- The context for the research question(s) in terms of relevant literature and policy
- Methodological approach and methods
- Data analyses
- This should be accompanied by a CV showing academic qualifications and experience.

Candidates may be called to an interview based on a short PowerPoint presentation and questions and answers. Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) at least an undergraduate degree at 2.1 or higher in a Construction Related discipline such as Civil / Structural Engineering, Architecture, or Construction Engineering and Management. A related postgraduate qualification such as a Construction Project Management or BIM Project Management Master's degree is desirable. The closing date for applications is Monday 29 April 2019 at 4pm by email to Tara Brooks (). The studentship will start in September 2019.

The successful candidate will be funded through a DfE studentship (including (2018-19 rate) a stipend of £14,777 and Home/EU fees. The candidate must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years (with no restrictions). EU residents may be eligible for studentship covering fees-only.

For further details, or if you have any other enquiries, please email Tara Brooks:

Further details regarding eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) are available at the following link:


Green, S.D., (2011) Making sense of construction improvement. John Wiley & Sons
Farmer, M. (2016) The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model: Modernise or die. London: Construction Leadership Council
Department of BEIS (2017) Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the future. London: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Fleck, J. and Howells, J., (2001) Technology, the technology complex and the paradox of technological determinism. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 13(4), pp.523-531

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