- MSc by research
Our multidisciplinary research addresses the global need for delivering long-term, sustainable performance of existing and new infrastructure systems. We are leaders in modelling and managing the impacts of extreme natural and human hazards, such as earthquakes, climate change, flooding, industrial processes, traffic and crowds.
Our application studies range from complete national and regional systems (such as national hydrological models, water systems, electricity and transport networks) through individual artefacts (such as nuclear facilities, offshore wind farms, underground services, dams, long-span bridges and buildings), down to local scale buckling models of reinforcing bars in concrete or mechanical characterisation of small-scale soil elements.
Much of our research requires numerical and experimental investigations across the length scales, from micro and macro to large, from particulate to continuum. It also includes monitoring of prototypes, for example, the dynamics of cable-stayed bridges such as the Second Severn Crossing, analysis of deep excavations and flood prediction based on real-time radar detection of rainfall.
We collaborate widely with academic and industrial partners from across the engineering, science and social science disciplines, and from around the world.
PhD applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of a master's degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first class undergraduate degree. Please note, acceptance will also depend on readiness to pursue a research degree.
MSc by research applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of an upper second class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline and demonstrate readiness to pursue a research degree.
See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.
Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.Go to admissions statement
Fees and funding
- UK: full-time
- £4,758 per year
- UK: part-time
- £2,379 per year
- Overseas: full-time
- £26,000 per year
Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.
More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.
University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.
Funding for 2024/25
A number of funded studentships are available each year, supported by research council, industry, University or other funds. View the faculty website for a list of currently available funded projects or visit jobs.ac.uk.
View information on funding postgraduate study for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.
Self-funded or sponsored students are also very welcome to apply.
Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.
Civil engineering PhD graduates are found in a variety of careers, including world-leading research. Many also work as consultants or as part of large-scale engineering industries.
Meet our supervisors
The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.
Earthquake and Geotechnical Engineering
The Earthquake and Geotechnical Engineering (EGE) research group is world-leading, hosting a unique multimillion-pound earthquake engineering laboratory equipped with several shake table earthquake simulators, a soil pit testing configuration, strong floors and a reaction wall. The large-scale experiments are executed in the SoFSI/EQUALS Research Infrastructure that includes the new ££12 million UKCRIC National Facility for Soil Foundation Structure Interaction (SoFSI) and the long established EQUALS laboratory. This facility integrates structural and geotechnical engineering for soil structure testing and fills key gaps in our understanding which cannot be resolved using conventional, smaller scale laboratory tests or prototype observations. The SoFSI/EQUALS Laboratory can deliver a unique, high value capability for de-risking investments in innovation and development, for example in life extension techniques for existing infrastructure or the application of new materials and devices.
The group's area encompasses earthquake engineering, structural engineering, advanced composite materials, geomechanics and infrastructure resilience. It develops techniques for theoretical and numerical analysis, physical testing of infrastructure in the field and laboratory, advanced structural and geotechnical material behaviour characterisation and modelling, structural vulnerability and overall non-linear dynamic performance assessment. It has made notable advances in several areas, including the mechanisms of wind and pedestrian-induced vibrations, the non-linear dynamics of masonry and other buildings, dynamics of long-span bridges, cable structures, wind turbines, and seismic response of bridges and large dams. The research group also works on the analysis, design and assessment of earthquake-resistant structures, including novel numerical and analytical methods, retrofit techniques, risk studies, and on-site inspection of buildings, bridges and critical infrastructure.
The group has an active interest in solving geotechnical problems using a multi-scale approach, combining advanced laboratory testing, constitutive modelling, physical modelling, field observation and numerical simulation. Recent research has focused on measurements of deformation properties of soils using novel techniques of laboratory geophysics at very small strains for stiffness; dynamic soil-structure interaction, with an emphasis on piles and retaining walls; and foundations of offshore wind turbines.
The group also has a strong interest in the characterisation of treated geomaterials: mixtures of soil with various inclusions such as fibres, cement, fly ash and soft tyre chips. The Soil Mechanics Laboratory possesses a series of triaxial and a unique set of multiaxial soil test apparatus: true triaxial apparatus (independent variation of three principal stresses, rigid boundaries), cubical cell (independent variation of three principal stresses, flexible boundaries) and hollow cylindrical torsional apparatus (independent control of four stress variables).
Water and Environment
The Water and Environmental Engineering research group is concerned with characterising and simulating the water environment in a changing world. We advance the sustainable use of water resources, provide design variables for infrastructure and enhance the security of society regarding floods and other environmental hazards. Focus areas include hydrology, water and health, climate change impacts, human impacts, water quality, risk from natural hazards, and new observational methods.
Water and environmental security are crucial for the sustainable and safe existence of both people and nature. Ensuring water security requires protection from floods and water scarcity, and the sufficient supply of fresh water of appropriate quality to ensure environmental and human health. The future of our society is less likely to be threatened by armed conflict than by population growth, climate change, water shortages and pollution, as well as poverty and rising food prices. The water and environment research group focuses on developing the theory and tools needed to address the complex issue of water security in a changing world. The group consists of an interdisciplinary team of engineers and scientists who combine process understanding, mathematical modelling, novel monitoring approaches and engineering principles to solve societal water problems.
Systems and Safety
The Infrastructure Systems research group develops novel, holistic approaches for characterising and managing the safe and sustainable performance of complex socio-technical systems. Key areas of work include sustainable systems, problem structuring methods, the vulnerability and resilience of infrastructures, infrastructure interdependencies, smart cities and communities, and the safety and vulnerability of embedded software systems.
Within the research group, the Safety Systems Research Centre performs novel research into the safe and resilient performance of complex systems, including computational and organisational factors. The centre is also part of the Bristol-Oxford Nuclear Research Centre, and Bristol's strategic relationship with EDF.
The Group also hosts the Infrastructure Collaboratory, Bristol's UKCRIC Urban Observatory facility, responsible for deploying testbeds across the city and developing novel solutions for monitoring traffic, air pollution, energy consumption, water quality and many other aspects of urban life.