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Postgraduate Admissions


This is a four-year (1+3 MRes/PhD) studentship funded through the Cambridge EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment: Resilience in a Changing World (FIBE2 CDT). The FIBE2 CDT aims to develop the next generation of infrastructure professionals who can create, shape and deliver the national vision for UK infrastructure, who will be equipped with a versatile and cross-disciplinary skill set to meet the most complex emerging challenges and contribute effectively to better infrastructure decision-making in the UK. Further details can be found at

The project is funded in collaboration with Bentley Systems and ARUP. Bentley Systems, the infrastructure engineering software company, provides innovative software to advance the world's infrastructure, sustaining both the global economy and environment. ARUP is a global consultancy firm working across every aspect of the built environment helping clients to solve their most complex challenges.

In urban settings ground source energy systems are commonly deployed by embedding heat exchanger pipes into geotechnical structures, such as piled foundations. Despite obvious advantages, their deployment rate in the UK is considerably lower than in Europe. This has been attributed to greater concerns of the impact of temperature variations on structural safety and the long-term inter-related thermal and mechanical performance of those structures.

The project will seek to explore tailored improvements in the soil and soil-pile system for optimised thermal and mechanical performance and will address the long-term mechanical response of thermal piles. The project will involve a combination of experimental and computational work. This will include cyclic thermal testing of different improved soils and enhanced soil-pile interface together with finite element modelling of the soil-pile system using PLAXIS, a Bentley Systems product, to optimise the design and performance of thermo-active geostructures. This project will be aligned to the £1.6M EPSRC project SaFEGround: Sustainable, flexible and efficient ground-source heating and cooling systems in collaboration with Imperial College London.

For general enquiries, please email For project-specific enquiries please e-mail Professor Abir Al-Tabbaa at or Professor Gopal Madabhushi at

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in a Bachelors or Masters in civil engineering. Experience in geotechnical experimentation and/or modelling would be advantageous.

The FIBE2 CDT studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible students. Further details about eligibility and funding can be found at:

To apply for this studentship, candidates must apply through the University's Graduate Admissions application portal. The portal is at: and there is a £70 fee for PhD applications, with the title of the project quoted on the form and Professor Abir Al-Tabbaa identified as the potential supervisor.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

Key Information

Department of Engineering

Reference: NM26985

Dates and deadlines:

Friday, 11 June, 2021
Closing Date
Wednesday, 30 June, 2021