Ørsted Research Studentships in Geotechnical Design for Offshore Wind Turbines

Ørsted Research Studentships in Geotechnical Design for Offshore Wind Turbines

Up to three 4-year DPhil studentships, fully funded by Ørsted, are available at Oxford University from October 2018. The successful applicants will work on a major research project led by Oxford University funded by Ørsted (https://orsted.co.uk/), and will join the EPSRC-funded Renewable Energy Marine Structures (REMS) CDT program (http://www.rems-cdt.ac.uk/).

Research Area

Ørsted and Oxford University have signed a five year research framework agreement to develop new design methods for offshore wind turbine foundations, with particular focus on cyclic loading of monopile foundations. The work develops from recent collaborations, including the PISA (Pile Soil Analysis) project, which has produced new design methods for monopiles, leading to reduced size and cost of the foundations. PISA was specifically focused on monotonic loading however the wind turbines are exposed to significant cyclic loading through the action of wind, wave and the operation of the turbine. This next phase of work, supported by the framework agreement, aims to develop design methods that specifically address cyclic loading conditions through theoretical development, numerical analysis, laboratory testing and medium scale field testing. The project will be led by Professor Byron Byrne, in close collaboration with Ørsted, as well as academic colleagues and students at Oxford.

Three fully funded studentships are available on this research program. The first studentship (Ørsted1) will focus on finite element modelling, developing the work from the PISA Project, applying it to new scenarios, as well as exploring the application of machine learning approaches to offshore geotechnical design. Candidates with expertise in the use of finite element modelling software are sought. The second project (Ørsted2) will focus on laboratory model and element testing, exploring the link between cyclic element testing (such as from triaxial testing), the macro behaviour of monopile foundations and theoretical models. Candidates should demonstrate relevant experience in laboratory testing. The final studentship (Ørsted3) will focus on theoretical developments, exploring the application of the Hyperplastic Accelerated Ratcheting Model (HARM) to monopile behaviour. Candidates should demonstrate a strong understanding of theoretical mechanics and plasticity theory applied to geotechnical engineering. The team will work closely together to deliver the overall project alongside academic staff and engineers from Ørsted.

Further details and relevant papers are available from byron.byrne@eng.ox.ac.uk

Award Value

The studentships will cover University/College fees plus a stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) of at least £18,000 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further three years.


Up to three studentships are available. Home and EU candidates are eligible for full funding. Consideration will be given to funding of up to one candidate classified as overseas, if suitable candidates apply.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class, or upper second class, honours degree (or equivalent) in Civil Engineering or a cognate discipline (e.g. Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Geology);
  • Evidence of good mathematical and computational skills as applied to civil and geotechnical engineering problems;
  • Appreciation of design methods for offshore foundations;
  • Enthusiasm to undertake the research required for a doctorate;
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English;
  • Excellent record of academic and/or professional achievement.

The following are desirable but not essential:

  • Detailed knowledge of geotechnical engineering;
  • Specialist skills such as use of FE programs or laboratory based work;
  • Evidence of high self-motivation and good organisational skills;
  • Interpersonal skills necessary to contribute effectively in a large research group.

Application Procedure 

To apply for this studentship, candidates should send the following documents to postgraduate.studies@eng.ox.ac.uk:

  • Covering Letter: This should describe why you are suitable for this project and the REMS CDT, what you hope to achieve from the DPhil as well as your longer term ambitions. You should identify which studentship you wish to be considered for.
  • CV including transcripts/records of marks from university level courses.
  • Contact details for two referees, at least one of which must be academic.

Note: Candidates are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria available at http://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/study-here/postgraduate/graduate-admissions-criteria and a full graduate application must be made at the same time as applying for this studentship. Your studentship application will not be considered until you have submitted a graduate application (use course-code RV_1). Further details about making a graduate application are available at http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford.

Please quote REMS18-Orsted in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof. Byron Byrne, email: byron.byrne@eng.ox.ac.uk. Note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.