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  1. Research degrees
Study at City

PhD / MPhil Civil Engineering

Research degrees are available in MPhil/PhD in Civil Engineering, MPhil/PhD in Geotechnical Engineering, MPhil/PhD in Hydraulic Engineering and MPhil/PhD in Structural Engineering.

Key information

Start date

Research students may commence their degree studies 1st October, 2nd January/1st February or April.


The typical duration of doctoral studies for a full time student is three years with a maximum registration of four years.



Full-time: £4,500 per year

Part-time: £2,250 per year

External Candidate: £785 per year


Full-time: £9,600 per year

Part-time: £4,800 per year


There are four research routes available within the Department of Civil Engineering:

  • MPhil/PhD in Civil Engineering
  • MPhil/PhD in Geotechnical Engineering
  • MPhil/PhD in Hydraulic Engineering
  • MPhil/PhD in Structural Engineering

Research takes place under two Research Centres; Structural and Geotechnical Engineering and Fluid Engineering. The latter is the home of research in numerical modelling of fully non-linear hydrodynamics, which focuses on the development of numerical analysis methods for the analysis of the interaction between breaking waves and floating or fixed structures. The remainder of the research takes place within the Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Centre. In Structural Engineering extensive structural laboratory facilities are combined with the development of advanced finite element-based techniques, supporting both the design of structurally efficient buildings and the dynamic analysis of structures subjected to seismic excitation, impact damage or blast loading. In geotechnical engineering, experimental work focusing on the response of complex underground geotechnical structures using our recently refurbished geotechnical centrifuge facility is combined with an investigation of the links between the mesoscopic and macroscopic properties of particulate materials and the influence of these on construction processes.


Entry requirements

A good honours degree (normally no less than a second class honours degree from a UK University or an equivalent qualification) in an appropriate subject. Some subjects also require an appropriate Masters qualification.

English requirements

Prospective students whose mother tongue is not English must meet any one or a combination of the following:

  • An overall score of 6.5 in IELTS with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four components.
  • The award of a Masters degree the teaching of which was in English

Please note that the UK Border Agency currently requires us to confirm that you are at level B2 or above in all components of English before issuing Visa Documents.

Find out more about English language proficiency requirements at City.

Visa requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than six months
  • Students on courses of less than six months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

For more information see our main Visa page.


Doctoral research students are initially registered for an MPhil. They transfer to PhD at the end of the first year following satisfactory submission and examination of a report and transfer presentation. Further information on the regulations and structure of MPhil/PhD studies.

The groups use experimental and numerical techniques to investigate the following:

  • Performance-based design and assessment
  • High performance structures
  • Complex/special (and/or irregular) structures
  • Adaptable/adapting structures
  • Structural health monitoring /smart monitoring
  • New and/or adapting materials (for enhanced performance)
  • Multi-hazard analysis/design/ (risk) management of structures
  • Optimization of civil engineering structures
  • Soil-structure interaction and the interaction between buried structures
  • Multi-scale soil mechanics
  • Novel  sustainable pile systems
  • The behaviour of soils subjected to remoulding during geotechnical construction
  • Fluid-structure interaction (including extreme waves, floods, tsunamis, scour)
  • Sediment transport mechanisms (from Geotechnics and Hydrodynamics point of view)

Doctoral studentships

Find out about our fourteen full-time, three-year doctoral studentships for 2019/20 entry.

Funding options

  • Full-time EU: £4,500 per year
  • Part-time EU: £2,250 per year
  • Full-time Non EU: £9,600 per year
  • Part-time Non EU: £4,800 per year

External Candidate study of this course costs £785 per year either as a part-time or full-time option.

Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

The Government has introduced a new Postgraduate Doctoral Loans scheme which can provide a loan of up to £25,000 over three years to support study for a doctoral degree. A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study and can be used alongside any other forms of support you may be able to receive, for example from industry or business or through your PhD supervisor.

Find out more about Postgraduate Doctoral Loans



Students will all be allocated a primary and secondary supervisor to provide guidance and support during their studies.


The Graduate School organises courses and research events to assist students to develop their research skills and to promote the exchange of research ideas across City. Students are also encouraged to attend relevant Masters level courses where appropriate.

Research Environment

The Civil Engineering Department is a focus for seminars and research activities directly relevant to students' research topics. Most research students study within groups engaged in similar research and students often share experimental and numerical techniques in order to maximise the progress that can be made during the students' studies.

How to apply

We accept applications on an ongoing basis for entry in October, January and April. Please see the requirements section above for eligibility criteria.

It is essential that you contact a member of staff in the department you are interested in, to discuss your ideas for research (research proposal). Unfortunately, we will not be able to consider your application without this pre-requisite.

Details of relevant academic staff can be found on our department pages.

You are advised to submit your application at least 10 weeks before your proposed start date in order for us to consider and process your application. Once you have identified a supervisor who will accept to guide through your research, please submit an application online using the link below:

Supporting documents

To apply online, an applicant will need to submit the following supporting documents:

  • Research proposal. The Research Proposal should be a maximum of 3 sides A4. See guidance on writing your research proposal
  • Copies of degree certificates and transcripts – original will be requested before an offer is made;
  • Official work e-mail addresses (not private ones) for two referees (one of which must be an academic);
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable).
  • Evidence of sponsorship (if applicable).