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  Ecologically constrained building design: What can we build from the zero-carbon resource pool?

   Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

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  Dr Will Hawkins, Prof T Ibell  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath is inviting applications for the following fully funded PhD project with an enhanced stipend of £24,000 per year, expected to commence in October 2022. Another start date may be possible if agreed with the supervisory team.

Project Supervisory Team

Dr Will Hawkins, Prof Tim Ibell (University of Bath), Kelly Harrison (Whitby Wood)


Decarbonising the supply of today’s construction materials relies on breakthroughs in carbon-capture and green hydrogen technologies, neither of which have shown to work economically or at-scale. As such achieving a truly zero carbon property and construction industry will more likely be based on building less, re-using and improving what we have got, understanding limitations and opportunities in regulation, and a fully circular materials market.

This wide-reaching project will decipher this problem by determining the sustainable supply of building materials - the ‘resource pool’ - in a zero carbon circular economy. The key barriers and opportunities to achieving this will be identified, and resources developed to change the industry approach as a whole.

We might initially ask whether the UK’s current buildings are able to serve our growing population and changing needs. To what extent can they be adapted, extended or repurposed, and how might cities be planned around this principle, rather than demolition and re-build? What new materials are needed, and could these be supplied sustainably?

This analysis will identify barriers to be overcome to create a zero-carbon built environment. These may include insufficient archive information, costly and intrusive investigation techniques, or a lack of expertise and awareness of historical buildings. Today’s supply of low carbon or recycled materials may be inadequate, or inefficient. What opportunities do these reveal, and what might we learn from developments across the globe?

To explore these challenging questions, we are seeking enthusiastic candidates with a passion for sustainable construction and a drive to engage with industry and achieve impact.

This project is co-sponsored by Whitby Wood and The Whitby Bird Foundation, both organisations are committed to finding zero carbon solutions to structural engineering designs.

The candidate will join a wider multi-disciplinary and multi-institution network through UK FIRES (, a national research programme which addresses the industrial challenges and opportunities presented by the UK’s zero carbon commitment.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should ideally hold, or expect to receive, an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or non-UK equivalent).

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Will Hawkins - [Email Address Removed]

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements: UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), those with Indefinite Leave to Remain and EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.


Architecture; Built Environment; Civil Engineering; Construction Management; Geotechnical Engineering; Manufacturing Engineering; Structural Engineering; Urban Planning

Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for 3.5-year industry sponsored studentship provided by Whitby Wood and the Whitby Bird Foundation. This full funding will cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, an enhanced tax-free maintenance allowance of £24,000 per year, and a research budget for project costs, consumables, conference attendance, etc. In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must qualify as a ‘Home’ student - see Funding Eligibility section above.

Where will I study?

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