Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Start dates

October, February and April

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project, to commence in October or February.

This PhD project around the incorporation of water leakage reduction in the automatic creation of water supply zones is supervised by Dr Mohammed Ali and Dr Steve Mitchell.

Open water distribution systems are very complex to operate and to manage efficiently, due to the number of elements within the distribution system and the way they interact.

To make management and operation easier, water systems are normally broken down to subsystems or zones. These subsystems are called pressure zones or water District Metering Areas (DMA).

This project aims to incorporate the leakage reduction mechanism at the initial stage of DMAs design. Another potential goal of this study is to establish a robust and efficient automated system for DMA creation.

Methods used include the use of formal optimisation to establish DMAs and evaluate measures to reduce leakage at the same time.

The main objective in establishing DMAs within a distribution system is to identify the economic level of real losses in each DMA and then design and implement measures to reduce this.

The creation of DMAs also has an important role in leakage management, as abnormal flow measurement at the inlet can highlight the presence of a leak within the DMA. Once these DMAs are created, excess pressure can then be minimised, reducing the background leakage in the system. The creation of DMAs will not reduce leakage by itself, but constitutes the first step towards better system control.

Existing published research on the automatic creation of DMAs does not consider leakage directly as a primary concern. DMAs can have various shapes and sizes and can be very complex. Reduction of excess pressure and the associated leakage in such DMAs, cannot be done by simply introducing a simple control at the DMA inlet.

Therefore, a model needs to be developed to reduce excess pressures and ultimately reduce leakage within the DMAs and the network as a whole.

Fees and funding

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).

2022/2023 fees (applicable for October 2022, February and April 2023 start) 

PhD and MPhil

UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students 

  • Full-time: £4,596 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £2,298 (may be subject to annual increase)

EU students
(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £4,596 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £2,298 (may be subject to annual increase)

International students

  • Full-time: £18,300 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £9,150 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

All fees are subject to annual increase. If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2022/23 please visit this page.

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

Entry requirements

  • The project requires a candidate with a good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent) in Civil Engineering, Computing or a related subject
  • The work requires a reasonable knowledge of computer programming and modelling but training will be offered on software and on other relevant laboratory equipment
  • A suitable MSc/MPhil/MEng degree with a background in Hydraulics/Fluid Mechanics and or computer modelling is desirable
  • This project is suitable for both home/EU and or International 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

How to apply

Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Mohammed Ali ( (+44 (0)23 9284 2390) or Dr Steve Mitchell ( (+44 (0)23 9284 2424), quoting both the project code ACES4721020 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

February start

Apply now