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  Lightweight structural systems for low-carbon housing

   School of Engineering

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  Dr A Bagheri Sabbagh, Dr P C Davidson  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The legally binding UK government target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 cannot be achieved without minimizing the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Lightweight steel frame (LSF) structures made of cold-formed steel (CFS) stud-walls and joisted floors are gaining growing popularity in modern construction practice worldwide, both in new developments and as a cost-effective and low-carbon solution for vertical extensions to existing buildings. The advantages they offer include ease of off-site manufacture, reduced material utilisation and waste, and low cost. Compared to hot-rolled steel sections, CFS sections are more susceptible to local buckling due to the large width-to-thickness ratio of their thin-walled elements.

The aim of this project is to enhance the design and performance of LSF structural systems subjected to various environmental loading conditions. The specific objectives are:

-      Conduct physical testing experiments on components and connections of LSF structures on various framing configurations.

-      Develop detailed finite element modelling of the LSF components and connections validated against experiments.

-      Perform a comprehensive parametric study on the key controlling parameters to extend the range and applicability of the developed LSF system for low- to high-rise buildings.

-      Optimise design and manufacture of the LSF components incorporating practical and manufacturing constraints.

The developed design will provide a lightweight, sustainable and rapid solution for construction of multi-storey buildings, therefore contributing to the following UK government targets for 2025: (i) 50% reduction in the overall construction time of new build and refurbished assets; (ii) 33% reduction in both the initial cost of construction and whole life cost of assets; and (iii) 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment.

Successful completion of the project and publication of its results will likely lead to significant application in the CFS industry which is rapidly growing in the UK and overseas.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Civil/Structural Engineering.


Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding

• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)

• Detailed CV, Personal Statement/Motivation Letter and Intended source of funding

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr A Bagheri Sabbagh ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Additional research costs of £1,000 in total are also required for this project. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting


Bagheri Sabbagh & Torabian (2021). “Semi-rigid floor-to-wall connections using side-framed lightweight steel structures: Concept development”, Thin-Wall. Struct. 160,107345.
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