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 studentship, to commence in October or February.

This project involved the study of Soil Reinforcement Interaction Mechanics, and is supervised by Dr Alireza Tatari, Dr Jonathan Black and Dr Muhammad Ali.

Soil reinforcement using geosynthetics offers an economic and sustainable option for enhancing soil properties and improving geotechnical structural performance.

The soil and embedded reinforcements form a composite material, improving structural performance to a degree greater than could be achieved by either individually. Parameters such as aperture size, soil particle size distribution, embedment length and confining stress are critical in design.

However, the current ‘one size fits all’ design methodology is highly conservative, and fails to harness the available soil resistance. Current practice is based on data from simplistic small-scale laboratory pull-o Soil Rut interface tests; the data gathered from this research project will help to formulate a better solution.

The work will include:

  • Conducting simulations of rock deformation (failure) using high force triaxial cells focusing on volcanic rocks (basalt and andesite).
  • Using new calibrated micro-seismicity sensors and methods to qualitatively track the source of the earthquakes in space and time.
  • Apply these new data to two models, to better understand the role of liquids and attenuation (energy scattering) in the rock mass (volcano).

This research project will investigate local interaction characteristics through non-intrusive modelling. Specifically, you'll use transparent soil in conjunction with laser aided imaging to directly visualise the soil-geosynthethic interaction.

Real-time observation of interaction mechanics will reveal for the first time the intricacies of soil-reinforcement resistance, which will transform the current understanding of geotextile design and global soil reinforcement system performance. Another goal of this research is to increase the use of interface parameter selection for the numerical modelling of reinforcement.

This research is a joint project with the University of Sheffield, you'll benefit from two leading institutions and supervisors who are experts in this field. This puts this project in line with key principles of our research and innovation strategy, one of which is establishing ourselves as a key partner of choice for collaboration at a local, national and international level.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry Requirements

  • The project requires a candidate with a relevant MSc/MPhil/MEng degree in Civil Engineering.
  • Training will be offered on image processing technique and on relevant laboratory equipment.
  • The successful applicant will become part of a renowned and dynamic research team at the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, where we have considerable expertise in soil mechanics, physical and numerical modelling.
  • This project is suitable for both home/EU and or International students.
  • The project will be based on a flexible start date, for three years.
  • You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject.
  • Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered.
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply

Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Muhammad Ali ( (+44 (0)23 9284 2398) or Dr Alireza Tatri ( (+44 (0)23 9284 2437), quoting both the project code ACES4761020 and the project title.

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.