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PhD Studentship: Measuring the Engineering Behaviour of Jurassic & Triassic Mudstones for High Speed Rail

University of Bath

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,609 for 2020/21
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 2nd June 2021
Closes: 30th July 2021

Application deadline: 30 July 2021

Start date: 1 November 2021

This PhD will apply geotechnical and engineering geology knowledge to the real-world challenge of infrastructure construction in mudstone strata. It will commence in November 2021.

As the construction of the HS2 railway progresses from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds it will cut through older and older mudstone strata. The excavations will provide an exceptional opportunity to obtain soil and rock samples and improve our understanding of their engineering behaviour. An improved understanding of the time-dependent behaviour of mudstones will enable cost savings during the design and construction of high-speed rail and other linear infrastructure.

You will use monitoring data from a full-scale field trial (the largest in Europe) and commercial ground investigation data to build and validate a model for heave that can be implemented by industry. This will utilise measurements from a deep cutting through Jurassic mudstone in Warwickshire. In addition, you may undertake complementary laboratory testing to develop an improved model of heave behaviour. 

It is anticipated that the outcomes of the research will be of relevance to academic audiences and those in industry. The applicant will therefore have the opportunity to engage with the project stakeholders (HS2 Ltd) and will communicate research findings through regular reports, presentations and journal publications.

Please contact Dr Kevin Briggs (, Centre for Infrastructure, Geotechnical and Water Engineering (IGWE), to informally discuss before submitting an application. The application deadline is 30th July 2021.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in engineering, mathematics or earth sciences. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous. English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see

Applicants require an understanding of solid mechanics, preferably with respect to soil and rock mechanics. Applicants should have experience of programming and data analysis, or be prepared to learn. PhD research requires the ability to take the initiative, to work with others and overcome challenges or delays. These will be developed throughout the PhD programme. Preferred candidates will be able to demonstrate these leadership skills.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Architecture & Civil Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Expected start date: 1 November 2021

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3-year University of Bath Studentship which will cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,609 for 2020/21). In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must qualify as a ‘Home’ student - see Funding Eligibility section.

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