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Structural behaviour of fibrous plaster ceilings and their response to degradation

Project Description

Applications are invited from UK/EU candidates only.

Supervisory team: Dr Richard Ball, Prof Pete Walker & Dr Martin Ansell

For further information and informal enquiries, please contact Dr Richard Ball,

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials (https://www.bath.ac.uk/research-centres/bre-centre-for-innovative-construction-materials), in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, is seeking eligible applicants for an PhD studentship. This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding.


Fibrous plaster is a form of interior decoration composed of plaster of Paris, reinforced with fabric within a timber frame. It was employed widely from the second half of the nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Despite its ubiquitous historical use, it has been completely neglected by the building conservation movement, and many conservation professionals today are unaware of it. Collapses of fibrous plaster ceilings such as that in the Apollo Theatre (London) show that the risk of its neglect is extremely high, endangering human safety and life. This project will seek to understand the structural behaviour of fibrous plaster and how its degradation influences its failure mechanisms. The PhD student will explore the influences of material properties and ceiling design, and through an understanding of the structural behaviour advise on the most appropriate approaches for inspection and repair.

Project Partners; Historic England, Hayles and Howe, Locker and Riley.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or non-UK equivalent). English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see http://www.bath.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/english-language/index.html


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:

Anticipated start date: TBC

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from UK/EU candidates only. The ‘Michael Dickson’ studentship, subject to confirmation of funding, is expected to be fully funded by the BRE Trust and will cover tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and maintenance in line with the UKRI Doctoral stipend rate (£15,009 per annum, 2019/20 rate) for up to 3.5 years full-time study. The studentship is also expected to include an allowance for travel and subsistence as well as some funds for project expenditure to acquire essential materials and minor equipment.

How good is research at University of Bath in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.38

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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