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  Sustainable use of vegetation for slope stabilisation and protection against landslides and erosion

   School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment

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  Dr S B Mickovski, Dr A Ollauri  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project


Project Reference Number: SCEBE-22SF-SUVSS-Mickovski

Please select the project from the drop down list or refer to the reference number in the text box of the prospective student application.


The mechanical effects of vegetation on slope stability have been extensively studied in the past, leading to a number of numerical models of how roots stabilise the soil and behave during slope instability. This has been supported by a number of studies characterising the strength of the vegetation roots and the root-soil continuum.

Although the hydrological effects of the vegetation on slope have been recognised in the past, detailed studies on the hydrological behaviour of vegetation and the basic mechanisms of affecting slope stability are lacking. There is a need of characterising the hydrological behaviour and effects of vegetation on slope stability with an aim of decreasing the risk of slope failures by vegetation selection. A full understanding of both mechanical and hydrological aspects of slope stabilisation by vegetation is needed in order to successfully design for stability and remediation. The issue is topical as the number of landslides and mass wasting events is increasing as the number of extreme precipitation events is increasing in the changing climate.


The project is envisaged to be multidisciplinary, incorporating not only biological and ecological aspects in a geotechnical problem but also creating a possibility to involve hydrological modelling, land surveying, and GIS into the engineering assessment of stability through risk analysis. A combination of theoretical and practical research, the project will encompass literature review, laboratory studies, field studies, numerical modelling spanning across different disciplines.

The project topic and the results from the investigation will be directly applicable to any civil engineering problem concerned with slope stability, erosion and environmental protection. The added value from the project will be the development of a risk-based model for environmental protection using vegetation which will lead to sustainable design by vegetation selection.


The successful applicant will be able to demonstrate understanding of geotechnical/civil engineering or plant sciences or agricultural sciences but have some understanding of and a particular interest in adapting ideas and models from other types of system e.g. natural, ecological, physical.

Candidates are invited to submit a more detailed research proposal (of a maximum of 2000 words) on the project area as part of their application. 

Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project –e.g. environmental science, marine science, ecology, geophysics, physical geography, environmental engineering, civil engineering, hydrodynamics, etc. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required.

How to Apply

This project is available as a 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time PhD study programme. 

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying. 

Please note that emails to the supervisory team or enquires submitted via this project advert do not constitute formal applications; applicants should apply using our Application Process page, choosing Civil Engineering or Built Environment and their preferred intake date.  

Please send any other enquires regarding your application to: [Email Address Removed]

Architecture, Building & Planning (3)

Funding Notes

Applicants are expected to find external funding sources to cover the tuition fees and living expenses. Alumni and International students new to GCU who are self-funding are eligible for fee discounts.
See more on fees and funding.


For further information, please contact the team as below:
* Please note, any email contact is considered an informal query, to be considered officially, you will need to apply via the admissions route.
The team to contact is
Director of Studies
Name: Prof. Slobodan B. Mickovski
GCU Research Online URL:
2nd Supervisor Name: Dr Aljandro Gonzalez-Ollauri
GCU Research Online URL:
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