PhD Studentship - What Works in Complex Systems of Systems (SoS) Environments?

Loughborough University

Application details:

Start date: 1st October 2018

Closing date: 9th March 2018


Primary supervisor: Dr Melanie King

Secondary supervisor: TBC

Intro (standard):

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

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Project Detail:

The 21st Century presents tough global/societal challenges. The Engineering Systems of Systems research group aims to seek solutions to these challenges through the study and advancement of complex Systems of Systems (SoS) engineering and the socio-technical systems that shape our world.

This studentship is focused on the novel application of a theory-driven realist evaluative research approach to evidence ‘what works’ in SoS environments, specifically those comprising software and data-intensive systems often with ‘smart’ connected components. Evidencing what works (or does not work) and more importantly why, is particularly challenging for SoS researchers due to; the pace of technological change, the timing of implementation chains, evolving integration architectures and the changing socio-technical and socio-economic contexts that these developments are situated in.

The objective is to adapt existing systems engineering verification and validation techniques and blend these with the realist method. This will enable the evaluation of the dynamics of interdependent and highly complex engineered/digital systems within wider socio-technical systems, juxtaposed with the unpredictability of human behaviour. The aim is to evidence the critical contextual and human factors that lead to unanticipated effects at the SoS level and to provide real-world recommendations.

There is opportunity for the successful candidate to carry out this research in a variety of application domains, for example; smart systems within our homes and work places, urban systems within cities, transportation, healthcare, emergency services, manufacturing, retail, defence or even exploration. The over-arching aim is to progress our understanding of ‘what works, for whom, in which contexts and why’ in complex SoS, to solve real-world problems and provide answers to hitherto misunderstood policy questions in grand challenge domains.

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Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in engineering, computer science or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in these subjects would also be an advantage.

Funding information:

Please note that these studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have applied to this project and/or the following 30projects that have been prioritised for funding; job advert ref: WS01 – WS30

If awarded, each 3 year studentship will provide a tax-free stipend of £14,786 p.a ( provisional), plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (currently £4,262 p.a). While we welcome applications from non EU nationals, please be advised that due to funding restrictions it will only be possible to fund the tuition fees at the international rate and no stipend will be available. Successful candidates will be notified by 30th April 2018.

Contact details:

Name: Melanie King

Email address:

Telephone number: 01509 227198   

How to apply:

All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering

Please quote reference number: WS13

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Midlands of England