Research Studentship in Damage Assessment of Masonry Structures

3.5-year D.Phil studentship, available from October 2018

Research Area

Masonry arch bridges form an integral part of the UK's road, rail and water infrastructure while masonry buildings constitute an invaluable part of the existing building stock in historic cities. These enduring structures have shown themselves to be reliable but many are now facing challenges due to age and modern use. For instance, railway structures are under risk due to the increasing train load and speed demands while buildings are influenced by ground movements due to widespread underground construction work (e.g. tunnels) in urban areas.

The objective of this project is to improve the existing techniques for damage assessment of vulnerable masonry structures. This will be achieved by integrating innovative sensing technologies with advanced modelling techniques. New sensing technologies which utilise commercial cameras, fibre optic cables and microwave radars can provide unprecedented amount of detail on the current condition and structural response of masonry assets. With the use of Bayesian statistics, this rich and heterogenous information can be used to calibrate the uncertain computational finite element models of structures. The calibration process highlights the modelling complexity required to predict damage in masonry structures, thereby identifying salient parameters and modelling strategies. In return, this will allow formulation of simple analytical models which can predict response to increasing train loans and speeds accurately, and which can predict expected ground movement induced damage in facades with complex geometry. 

The student will get the exciting opportunity to work on state of the art sensing and modelling techniques while investigating the structural response of masonry assets belonging to Network Rail and London Underground. S/he will be a member of the new Infrastructure Intelligence Research Group and will be supervised by Dr. Sinan Acikgoz. 

Award Value

The studentship covers University fees at the level set for UK/EU students plus a stiped (tax-free maintenance grant) of £14,553 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two years. The studentship does cover the payment of College Fees (c. £3,021 p.a.). 


This studentship is available to Home students only.

Candidate Requirements

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

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering, Computer Science or a relevant discipline;
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are desirable, but not essential:

  • Ability to program in Matlab;
  • Ability to use finite element modelling packages such as Abaqus;
  • Experience in structural engineering research demonstrated by a publication at an international conference or an international journal;
  • Practical experience in structural engineering demonstrated by previous work on damage assessment of masonry structures

Application Procedure

To apply for this studentship, candidates should send the following documents to

  • CV
  • Covering letter (explaining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the DPhil and your research experience to date)
  • Contact details for two academic or professional referees

NOTE: Candidates are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria available at 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. Further details about making a graduate application are available at Please quote 18ENGS_SA1 in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Informal enquiries may be address to Dr Sinan Acikgoz, email: Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted. 

Application deadline: 19/01/2018