School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

PhD Civil Engineering

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is awarded for a research study, normally over a three-year period, which makes a significant contribution to knowledge. Candidates must demonstrate that they have made an original personal contribution to the understanding of a problem in a specific field, the advancement of knowledge, or the generation of new ideas.

Key features

Use of unrivalled facilities
  • the nationally important COAST Laboratory
  • the new Marine Station
  • High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster.
Membership of active research groups comprising other research students and staff

Course details

  • Year 1

  • This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake.
    You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. 
    You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.
    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (approximately 80,000 words), and a viva voce (an oral examination).
    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our postgraduate research degrees pages
The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have completed a masters level qualification to a high standard (e.g. at 'merit' or 'distinction' level) as well as either a good 2:1 or first class honours undergraduate degree in an area of study appropriate to your project proposal. We are happy to consider equivalent qualifications.
If you do not have a masters level qualification, we recommend you consider applying for our MSc Civil Engineering, MSc Coastal Engineering or MSc Offshore Renewable Energy Engineering programme. 
You will also need to provide evidence that you are ready to pursue the project you propose in your application. This will take the form of a sample of critical writing, and if relevant, documentation of relevant creative or professional practice.
If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.
For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering is in Band 2 for fees purposes.
If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.
If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional 'writing up' period of up to two years.
You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.
Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal. Your research proposal should outline your research topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, a brief literature review, your proposed methodology, and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.
Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community.
Submitting your application
Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.
Questions on the application process?
We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College and we'll be happy to assist you.
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.
COAST Laboratory, Marine Building

Facilities and resources

From dedicated computer laboratories to a wealth of electronic information, you’ll benefit from a range of facilities and resources that will help your learning and development.
Our facilities include our £19 million Marine Building and dedicated engineering laboratories equipped with industry standard software.

Marine Station 

Our students have access to the Marine Station, a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility that serves all our marine-based courses including civil engineering, earth sciences and marine biology. 
Situated on the shores of Plymouth Sound as part of our ‘Waterfront Campus’, the facility offers labs and classrooms extending out into the natural environment, a wet lab for sample examination and analysis, a seawater aquarium, field equipment storage and changing facilities. It is also the base for our research vessels and a centre of excellence for diving. 
Marine Station

Babbage Building: where engineering meets design

Situated on the western edge of our city centre campus, the landmark new facility provides a new home for engineering in Plymouth, providing the environment and foundations for our teaching and research into the next decade.
“This new building offers a state-of-the-art setting to inspire the engineers of tomorrow, giving us the ultimate place to bring together students, academics and industry in an environment that not only benefits them but also society as a whole.” Professor Deborah Greaves OBE FREng, Head of school.
The University of Plymouth's new engineering and design facility - aerial view


Meet our school technical staff 

Our technical staff are integral to the delivery of all our programmes and bring a diverse range of expertise and skills to support students in laboratories and workshops.

Research groups

Research degree candidates

Ahmed Alboabidallah (PhD Civil Engineering)
Error Propagation Analysis for Remotely Sensed Aboveground Biomass
Director of studies: Dr John Martin 

James Allen (PhD Civil Engineering)
Interaction between a wave farm and the ocean through laboratory tests and numerical modelling
Director of studies: Professor Gregorio Iglesias Rodriguez 

Sultan Alsofyani (PhD Civil Engineering)
Developing a practice of contract management on construction fields in Saudi Arabia
Director of studies: Dr Andrew Fox

Davide Banfi (PhD Civil Engineering)
A Field and Laboratory Study on the Dynamic Response of the Eddystone Lighthouse to Wave Loading
Director of studies: Professor Alison Raby 

Aissa Bouaissi (PhD Civil Engineering)
Development of a new concrete for marine environment using high volume of industrial by-products
Director of studies: Professor Long-yuan Li 

Sahar Elaiwi (PhD Civil Engineering)
Analysis and Design of Castellated Beams
Director of studies: Professor Long-yuan Li 

KunjieFan (PhD Civil Engineering)
Fire performance assessment of concrete materials with supplemental cementitious materials
Director of studies: Professor Long-yuan Li 

Ganlin Feng (PhD Civil Engineering)
Micro-Scale Study of Multi-Component Ionic Transport in Concrete
Director of studies: Professor Long-yuan Li 

Rebecca Francis (PhD Civil Engineering)
Prediction of the impact of bio-fouling on efficiency and survivability of marine renewable devices
Director of studies: Dr Martyn Hann 

Jessica Guichard (PhD Civil Engineering)
Combined wind and wave loading of floating offshore wind turbine structures
Director of studies: Dr Martyn Hann 
Ben Howey (PhD Civil Engineering)
Development of compact WEC arrays trhough laboratory tests and numerical modelling
Director of studies: Professor Deborah Greaves 

Robert Jane (PhD Civil Engineering)
Improving the Representation of the Fragility of Coastal Structures
Director of studies: Dr David Simmonds 

Jie Ji (MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering)
Fatigue mechanism of floating concrete support structures for offshore wind/wave turbines
Director of studies: Dr Shanshan Cheng 

William Mortimer (MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering)
EXCESS (EXtreme responses in Coastal Engineering using NewWave on Steep Structures)
Director of studies: Professor Alison Raby 

Pierre-Henri Musiedlak (PhD Civil Engineering)
Numerical modelling of extreme hydrodynamic loads on offshore renewable energy concepts
Director of studies: Professor Deborah Greaves 

Natalia Perez del Postigo Prieto (PhD Civil Engineering)
Tsunami generation by combined fault rupture and landsliding
Director of studies: Professor Alison Raby 

Nirvan Razaghi-Kashani (PhD Civil Engineering)
An analysis of the Iranian post-earthquake management and building assessment system
Director of studies: Dr Andrew Fox 

Cristobal Rodriguez-Delgado (MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering)
Coastal defence through wave farms: advanced design tools based on laboratory tests and numerical modelling
Director of studies: Professor Gregorio Iglesias Rodriguez 

Teng Tan Loh (PhD Civil Engineering)
Assessments of Wave-Structure Interactions for an Oscillating Wave Surge Converter using CFD
Director of studies: Professor Deborah Greaves 

Thomas Vyzikas (PhD Civil Engineering)
Numerical modelling of extreme waves: The role of nonlinear wave-wave interactions
Director of studies: Professor Deborah Greaves 

Daming Wang (MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering)
HR Radar date and laboratory experiments for wave energy converters
Director of studies: Professor Deborah Greaves 

Qi Ye (MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering)
Structural and performance optimisation of wave energy device arrays
Director of studies: Dr Shanshan Cheng 

Nanting Yu (MPhil/PhD Civil Engineering)
Buckling behaiour of perforated cold-form steel channel-section beams with circular holes in web
Director of studies: Dr Boksun Kim 

Waves breaking on rocks.

Postgraduate research studentships 

Do you need funding for a research degree? 
If you cannot fund your own PhD research project then please look at the advertised studentships as they become available throughout the year. Please check the advert carefully to ensure you are eligible and what funding and support are available.
Postgraduate students
Coastal Processes Research Group Perranporth beach
Postgraduate research students listening to a talk