Postgraduate research admissions (PhD, EngD, MPhil)
The Department provides a highly stimulating environment for research, attracting outstanding applicants from a variety of academic backgrounds. Research students form an integral part of the Department's research community. The Department is recognised nationally and internationally as one of the leading centres of research in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Civil Engineering is a major mechanism for funding PhD research in the Department for UK and EU eligible students. Information about the CDT and current CDT PhD opportunities can be found here.
Information regarding other funding mechanisms within the Department can be found below and on our opportunity pages. Imperial College Scholarship opportunities can be accessed via the Postgraduate Scholarship pages.
PhD Programme Information
Meet our students
Our current students are best placed to provide an insight into the PhD programme within the department: see why they chose to undertake a PhD here, what studying for a PhD entails, and what they research and where it takes them. Explore our student profiles and the student and ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training videos below.
Training and opportunities
Attendance at MSc modules. We recognise that applicants to our research programmes may not have had the opportunity in their previous study to cover all taught material appropriate to their proposed research. We therefore offer the opportunity to attend relevant modules.
Graduate School Development Programmes. These courses are offered by the College’s Graduate School and are designed to broaden the student's range of transferable skills. Attendance at a stipulated number of Graduate School Professional Skills courses is compulsory for all research students.
Graduate Teaching Assistant Training. Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Many research students are involved with assisting with tutorials, laboratories and workshops in support of both undergraduate and Master’s students. Working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) provides you with an opportunity to broaden your experience, and develop further skills such as learning how to convey complex technical concepts and writing/communication. It can also help improve your own technical abilities (both theoretical and practical), broaden your knowledge base and gain communication and task management experience.
Research Seminars. A number of research seminars on a broad range of subjects regularly take place across the College, these are listed on the Graduate School's Research Seminars feed. In addition, within the Department each research section runs a series of seminars including external and internal speakers. As a research student you should expect to present to your research group during your studies.
Career paths and employability
Graduates from our research programmes are considered to be the leading experts in their research field, having successfully defended their theses. A good majority of research degree students to on to Postdoctoral research (at academic and research institutions), teaching and academic positions both nationally and internationally.
For data relating to the first destinations of our graduates, please view the links below.
For further information on career paths see the Imperial Careers Service
The Department is comprised of 6 research sections. We also participate in a number of Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT), which offer additional studentships and scholarships.
PhD opportunities / funding
|Project Title or Vacancy Reference Number||Contact for further details||Closing Date|
|Sarah Willis||Friday 28 July|
|Lagrangian tracking of plastic particles in coastal areas and evaluation of beach||Dr Jose Alsina||Open|
|Optimisation of Modularisation and Construction Scheduling of Small Nuclear Reactors [EPSRC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship on logistics and operations research]||Dr Panagiotis Angeloudis||Open|
|Development of multiscale composites inspired by bone||Dr Andrew Phillips||Open|
|Understanding geological evolution of chalk cliffs and coastal processes using InSAR||Dr James Lawrence||Recruiting for September 2017 entry|
|Project A: Plumes in stratified environments or
Project B: Low-energy building ventilation
|The Centre for Doctoral Training: Sustainable Civil Engineering is offering multiple opportunities including the following topics:||Recruiting for October 2017 entry
|* 'open' vacancies remain open until a suitable candidate is identified.
|Project Title or Vacancy Reference Number||Contact for further details||Closing Date|
| Departmental Scholarships
||Sarah Willis||31/03/2017 and 22/06/2017|
|For details of College Scholarships please search the Scholarships & Awards database.|
Minimum entry requirements
- A good Upper Second or First Class Degree result (or International equivalent), in engineering or another numerate discipline
- A Masters level degree qualification
- Good mathematical skills
- English Language qualification (where applicable)- Applicants for whom English is not their first language may be required to present an English language qualification, passed at the appropriate level. This may follow the application if not available at the time of submission. Please see the College English language requirements for postgraduate applicants for information.
The application process and essential information
When to apply
Selection for research programmes occurs throughout the year. Students wishing to start in October would normally apply no later than July in the year of entry to allow sufficient time to process applications and obtain visas if appropriate. Those applying for funding from the College or Department should ensure that they are aware of all funding related deadlines.
Step 1: Identify a suitable project and supervisor
- Visit the research and academic staff pages of our website to help identify topics of interest and potential supervisors. Contact your preferred supervisor(s) directly, to discuss potential projects and funding options
- Check the PhD opportunities page to see if there are any funded projects on offer of interest to you. These may be projects funded through research grants held by academic staff members, others are funded from departmental studentships. In many cases students will bring their own funding in the form of scholarships from their employer or home government.
Step 2: Prepare your application
Regardless of the source of funding, interested students should always begin the application process by contacting an academic staff member to discuss the potential research topic. Online applications should only be submitted when a potential academic supervisor has expressed sufficient interest in your application.
- Prepare transcripts of study, which you normally request from your University. Transcripts should include all modules you have undertaken and the marks you have been awarded in each element of assessment. If they are not in English, please include a translated copy. Always ensure that you include a copy of the University Marking Scheme.
- If English Language is a requirement, please ensure that you have familiarised yourself with the qualifications accepted by the College and the expected level of achievement in each.
- Identify two individuals to act as referees on your behalf. The references must be recent, relevant and dated.
- Prepare an up-to-date CV and a brief personal statement.
- Prepare a brief preliminary research proposal, preferably in conjunction with your potential supervisor.
Step 3: Make your application
Find the right course code: the table below lists the research degrees available within the Department.
|H2ZX||Civil Engineering Research (PhD)|
|H2XX||Civil Engineering Research (Occasional)|
|H2RX||Civil Engineering Research (MPhil)|
|H2ZS|| Sustainable civil engineering CDT
(see the CDT website)
|H2UT||Water Engineering (EngD)|
- The online application form is here: Apply Now.
When completing the online form, please ensure you include:
- brief details on your secondary education;
- how you propose to fund your studies (if via scholarship funding, please ensure that you provide details of those you have applied to and the date you will expect a response);
- the expected or final outcome of your degree(s) of study.
You are required to provide email contact details of your referees. These must be professional email accounts, as we do not accept reference letters submitted from private (gmail, yahoo, etc) accounts. Please also ensure your referees are aware of this requirement. Where the referee does not have a professional email account, then a standard reference letter on original official letter-headed notepaper will be an acceptable alternative. Such letters should be sent directly to the College - Registry Admissions (Engineering), Sherfield Building, Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ, UK.
The process and progress of your application to our PhD Programme
Following submission of the online application:
- You will receive an email acknowledgement that your application has been successfully submitted.
- Within a few of days you will receive a reference number, this is an 8-digit number starting with a single 0, and is referred to as your College Identifier Number (CID), this number must be quoted in all correspondence.
- You will be able to track your online application until it is forwarded to the Department. Your online e-service account from then on will read "with Department" until a decision is returned on your application. You will, however, receive notifications by email when your referees submit their online letters of support.
The Departmental Process:
Your online application is received into the Research Office of the Department, where it is held until it is considered complete. A completed application will include:
- Both of your references - it is your responsibility to ensure that these are received
- Transcripts (partial or complete) of all degrees you have undertaken, or are currently undertaking
- Personal statement
- Research plan
The completed application will then be sent on to the potential supervisor for consideration. Please note that some applications do not pass a preliminary screening, and it is possible for a decision to be returned to the College at this stage. If a potential supervisor(s) is interested in your applicartion they will arrange an interview with you with two academic staff members. Where the applicant cannot attend, the interview will likely be conducted using Skype.
Decisions are reported to, and processed by, the College Admissions Office. Notifications are sent by email.
Further information resources for this course
|Document to download||PhD Handbook 2016-2017|
|Resources for this module|
Why choose us?
MEng Accredited CEng (Full)
Our degrees are accredited as fully satisfying the educational base for a Chartered Engineer (CEng).
See www.jbm.org.uk for further information.
Our degrees are accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired a partial CEng accredited undergraduate first degree.
See www.jbm.org.uk for further information.
League table rankings
QS World Universities rankings
- Subject Ranking. Civil Engineering = 4th (2017); 5th (2016); 4th (2015); 9th (2014); 1st (2013); 6th (2012).
- Overall, Imperial was voted 8th best university in the world in this year's QS rankings.
Education Guardian Unversity Guide (UK)
- Subject Ranking. Engineering: Civil = 1st (2017); 1st (2016); 2nd (2015); 2nd (2014); 12th (2013).
- Overall, Imperial was ranked 5th in this year's Guardian university guide.
The Sunday Times University guide (UK)
- Subject Ranking. Civil, Chemical and other Engineering = 1st (2016).
The Times Higher Education world ranking
- Subject Ranking. Engineering and Information Technology = 6th (2014/15); 9th (2013/14)
- Overall, Imperial was ranked 9th best university in this year's Times Higher Education world rankings.
Complete University Guide 2016
- Subject Ranking. Civil Engineering = 2nd (2017), 2nd (2016), 2nd (2015)
- Overall, Imperial ranked 4th best university in this year's Complete University Guide.
National Student Survey
- Overall Satisfaction, 96% (2016)
- REF-14. 47% of research assessed to be 4* (highest rating), 48% assessed to be 3* and 5% assessed as 2*.
- RAE 2008. 40% of research assessed to be 4* (highest rating), 55% assessed to be 3* and 3% assessed as 2*.
Our state-of-the-art facilities are used by many of our PhD students to provide experimental data to back up their numerical findings.
Each research group hosts a series of seminars on topics relevant to the research group, where each student will have the opportunity to present their work.
The Three Minute Thesis competition challenges third year PhD students to condense their research in to a talk of 3 minutes or less, convey it to a diverse audience, whilst demonstrating the relevance of science in society and the contribution their research makes to our day-to-day lives.