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 February or October.

This PhD involves the study of The Combined Effect of Blast and Thermal Loading on Structural Connections, and is supervised by Dr Laurie Clough, Dr Stephanie Barnett and Dr David Begg.

In the protection of buildings, infrastructure and people against terrorist events, a fuller understanding of the combined effect of blast and thermal loads on structures is required. Research in this area has primarily focused on singular elements – but the response of the structural connections to these combined loading regimes has not been investigated.

The thermo-mechanical response of structures to combined thermal and blast loads is a complex and important area of research. This project will investigate the response of structural connections to these loading regimes using high-fidelity computational methods.

Structural connections play a huge role in the overall response of structures, and investigating their thermo-mechanical response to combined thermal and blast loads will provide a deeper understanding of the holistic response of full structures to these extreme loading regimes.

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 project aligns with University’s “Risk and Security” research theme as well as the SCES “Materials, Structures and Geotechnics” research group.

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

  • Applicants must have a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2.1), or equivalent, in civil engineering or related discipline
  • Experience of computational modelling (structural) is desirable. Further industry and/or research experience is preferential
  • Highly motivated and able to direct and manage own research project
  • Training will be offered on FEM software including LUSAS, LS Dyna, or Ansys
  • External collaboration with other academic institution (University of Loughborough) and industry (AWE) to use explosive testing data and potential novel trial design
  • This project is only suitable for home/EU students
  • 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 Laurie Clough ( (+44 (0)23 9284 2409) or Dr Stephanie Barnett ( (+44 (0)23 9284 2461) or Dr David Begg ( (02392842476), quoting both the project code ACES4771020 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.