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Early warning of rainfall triggered earthwork failures: Wash outs and debris slides

  • Full or part time
    Prof N Dixon
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, November 17, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Application details:
Reference number: UKCRIC/NetworkRail
Start date of studentship: by April 2020
Closing date of advert: 17 November 2019
Interview date: tbc

Primary supervisor: Prof. Neil Dixon
Secondary supervisor: Dr Tom Dijkstra

This PhD studentship is part of the UKCRIC CDT that will develop the doctoral community to boost productivity and efficiency in the delivery, maintenance and adaptation of infrastructure and cities. This studentship is co-funded with the Network Rail and will give you the opportunity to work in collaboration with this national infrastructure stakeholder.

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014). In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more:

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering was ranked first for research environment in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, with 95% of research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for its influence on society, the economy and policy. The School boasts world class facilities, with £1.4m recently invested in its 3,000m2 laboratory and one of the fastest High-Performance Computer clusters in the UK.

A key part of the School’s ethos is the extensive links with industry. Many research projects are sponsored and applied by organisations in the civil engineering, construction and transport sectors, and Loughborough graduates are highly sought after by industry and commerce world-wide.

Full Project Detail

Wash out and debris slide earthwork failures involving relatively high permeability soils and weathered rock are generally triggered by intense rainfall events. These failures are fast moving with long runout and multiple examples exist where failures have caused material deposition on rail tracks leading to derailments and delays. This project aims to establish antecedent soil moisture conditions and derive triggering rainfall intensities that provide early warning of failures.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Applicants with a background in civil engineering or geoscience are particularly welcomed. A relevant master’s degree and/or employment experience will be an advantage.

Contact details

For information about the project, please contact:

Name: Prof. Neil Dixon
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 228 542

For information about the application process, please contact:

Name: Mr Berkeley Young
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 222 611

How to apply

Applications should be made online at and must include an outline research proposal. Under programme name, please select Civil and Building Engineering.

Please quote reference: UKCRIC/NetworkRail

Funding Notes

The three-year studentship is intended to start by April 2020 and provides a tax-free stipend of £15,009 a year (2019/20 rates – stipend will rise in line with the level set by the Research Council) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Due to sponsor funding restrictions, this studentship is only open to UK/EU applicants.

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