Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, and will be supervised by Dr Peter Cruddas.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Desk-based feasibility studies of water, energy, and nutrient balances of different sanitation systems
  • Laboratory and pilot trials to facilitate technology development of advanced non-sewered sanitation infrastructure
  • Engagement with stakeholders such as water companies, technology developers, government bodies and the general public to generate a theory of change model on the steps needed to facilitate a change in sanitation in developed countries.

Recent media focus on combined sewer outfalls (CSOs), sewage pollution of rivers and coastal areas, and the need for greater water efficiency to alleviate drought conditions, has highlighted the unsuitability of our current water-based sanitation system in dealing with population increase and extreme weather events caused by climate change. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge to develop novel toilet designs for low-income settings that do not need to be connected to a sewer, however there is also an opportunity to develop non-sewered sanitation that can alleviate the environmental problems currently faced in advanced economies, including the UK.

This project will comprehensively investigate the potential of non-sewered sanitation for developed countries, including technology development with the laboratory, as well as study of the economic, social, environmental and technological changes that would be required for such a paradigm shift to be achieved. Using the University’s facilities, new designs of toilets will be developed and tested that can process human waste within the unit, eliminating the need for sewage to be discharged into the sewer network. A number of alternative approaches to these designs are conceivable, so experimentation and trials will be used to identify the most promising designs. 

In addition, the wider implications of such a radical shift in the sanitation sector will also be investigated. The new approach to sanitation will disrupt the current system which has been in place for 150 years, and so the implications of non-sewered sanitation will need to be understood. This will address aspects such as the future use of sewers and wastewater infrastructure, the changing role required of the water sector, and the potential for water, energy, and nutrient recycling through circular economy concepts.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

A background in, or knowledge of, environmental engineer, water quality/treatment or environmental chemistry would be preferred but not essential.

How to apply

We encourage you to contact Dr Peter Cruddas ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Civil Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code: SCES7620423.