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University of Portsmouth Featured PhD Programmes
Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes

Predicting heave in mudstone excavations for high speed rail

Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

Bath United Kingdom Applied Geology Civil Engineering Geoscience Geotechnical Engineering Hydrogeology Mechanical Engineering Solid Mechanics

About the Project

Project team: Dr Kevin Briggs

Informal queries should be directed to Dr Kevin Briggs ()


This PhD will apply geotechnical and engineering geology knowledge to the real-world challenge of predicting ground heave during infrastructure construction. It will commence in October 2021. As the construction of the HS2 railway progresses from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds it will cut through older and older mudstone strata. The excavations will provide an opportunity to obtain soil and rock samples and improve our understanding of their engineering behaviour. The PhD research will involve a detailed investigation of ‘heave’ ground movements that occur when the weight of upper layers is removed in deep, open excavations. An improved understanding of this time-dependent behaviour of mudstones will enable material, time and cost savings during the design and construction of high speed rail and other linear infrastructure. You will use data from a full-scale field trial and conduct laboratory testing to build and validate a model for heave that can be implemented by industry. This will utilise measurements from a deep cutting through Jurassic mudstone in Warwickshire. You will undertake complementary laboratory testing to develop an improved model of heave behaviour in Jurassic and Triassic mudstones. It is anticipated that the outcomes of the research will be of relevance to academic audiences and those in industry. The applicant will therefore have the opportunity to engage with the project stakeholders and will communicate research findings through regular reports, presentations and journal publications. Please contact Dr Kevin Briggs (), Centre for Infrastructure, Geotechnical and Water Engineering (IGWE), to informally discuss before submitting an application.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Architecture & Civil Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Expected start date: 4 October 2021

Funding Eligibility:

In order to be considered for a studentship, you must qualify as a ‘Home’ student. In determining ‘Home’ student status, we follow the UK government’s fee regulations and guidance which, when available, will be set out by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) on their website. At the time of advertising this project, the fee regulations for 2021/22 have not yet been published, but we expect (subject to confirmation) that the main categories of students generally eligible for ‘Home’ fee status will be:

UK nationals (who have lived in the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland continuously since September 2018)

Irish nationals (who have lived in the UK or Ireland continuously since September 2018)

EU/EEA applicants with settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (who have lived in the UK continuously since September 2018)

EU/EEA applicants with pre-settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (who have lived in the UK, EU, EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar continuously since September 2018)

Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK (who have been resident in the UK continuously since September 2018)

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for ‘Home’ fees and funding.

Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3-year University of Bath Studentship which will cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,609 for 2020/21). In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must qualify as a ‘Home’ student - see Funding Eligibility section above.

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