Funded PhD Studentship: Investigation of the Biomechanics and Physiology of the Muscles of the Pelvis for the Treatment of Incontinence

University of Surrey - Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences

Project Description

A fully funded PhD opportunity has become available in the Centre for Biomedical Engineering within the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at the University of Surrey. 

Incontinence is estimated to affect 1-20% of the population and causes considerable discomfort and distress. This project will contribute to: the understanding of its root causes; development of treatment for symptoms; and shaping future clinical approaches.

Coordinated muscle activity is necessary for everything from walking and respiration to swallowing and pumping blood around the body. The muscles involved in maintaining continence are highly complex, varied in their structure and interact with each other at several interfaces. When the actions of these muscles are inhibited, the resulting loss of continence can cause acute discomfort for individuals. This is not just a personal burden but also a large financial cost to the NHS. Nonetheless, muscles of the pelvis have not been investigated as comprehensively as other parts of the anatomy. Questions remain about the way that these muscles are structured and respond to activation. This project will address these open questions with the aim of a greater understanding of the physiology of the muscles of the pelvis and their contribution to continence. 

This project will include constructing numerical simulations that capture the behaviour of the critical muscle groups responsible for continence. These simulations will incorporate material models with the physiology of both smooth and skeletal muscle. Physical experiments to establish model parameters will also be part of the project. Ultimately, validated numerical simulations will be linked with clinical conditions. 


A first or upper-second class degree in engineering or physical sciences, or equivalent overseas qualification, or a lower second plus a good Masters degree. Experience of biomedical engineering and numerical modelling, particularly finite element analysis, would be beneficial but is not necessary. 

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status. 


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax-free stipend of £14,553 p.a., in line with standard RCUK stipend levels. 

Contact Details

Interested parties are encouraged to contact the project supervisor, Dr Matthew Oldfield ( and 01483 684402), for further information. 

Telephone enquiries about applications should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Team ( and 0800 980 3200)

Start Date

1st October 2017 initially. 

The position will remain open until a suitable applicant is found.


Applications should be made online via the link ‘PhD in Biomedical Engineering’ which can be found at:

Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on all applications. When following the online application procedure, please also make sure to include a CV and covering letter.

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