Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October and February

Closing date

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 February 2019 or October 2019. 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.


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).

October start

2020/2021 entry

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,327 p/a**

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,164 p/a**

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a*

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a*

By Publication Fees 2020/2021

Members of staff: £1,680 p/a**

External candidates: £4,327 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase
**This is the 2019/20 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2020/21 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2020.  

Entry requirements

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.

You can also visit our How to Apply pages to get a better understanding of how the PhD application process works.

October start

Apply now

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