The DPhDepartment 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. 

Why study for a PhD with us?‌

Find out more about research within the Department

Information regarding 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.

Information on the annual cost of living in London and PGR tuition fees can be found on the College fees and funding 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.

Laura Braun- EPSRC CDT in Sustainable Civil Engineering 2016

Alastair Shipman- EPSRC CDT in Sustainable Civil Engineering 2016

Ranjith Soman- Bentley Systems and Skempton PhD Scholar 2017

Fiona Walport- IC Presidents PhD Scholar 2016

Emily Dieu- Skempton PhD Scholar 2015-


Training and opportunities

Attendance at MSc modulesWe 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 further information on career paths see the Imperial Careers Service

Application Information

PhD opportunities / funding

Funded PhD Vacancies
Project Title or Vacancy Reference NumberContact for further detailsClosing Date
Evaluation of the health impacts of aircraft nanoparticles using a surrogate soot source and in vitro cell exposure
Read the full project description: MS2001a
Dr Marc Stettler 03 February 2020
Towards Dynamically Adaptive Water Supply Networks: Design-for-Control of Sectorised Water Supply Networks with Evolving Topologies for Improving Resilience and Pressure Management
Read the full project description: IS2001a
Dr Ivan Stoianov 30 March 2020
Dynamically Adaptive Control for Improving the Water Quality in Water Distribution Networks
Read the full project description: IS2001b
Dr Ivan Stoianov 30 March 2020 
Computational Fracture Mechanics
Read the full project description: EM1907a‌
Dr Emilio Martínez-Pañeda Open
Orthopaedic biomechanics - Patient-specific surgical planning of knee osteotomies
Read the full project description: LM1907a
Dr Luca Modenese Open
Development of multiscale composites inspired by bone
Read the full project description: AP1705a
Dr Andrew Phillips Open 
* 'open' vacancies remain open until a suitable candidate is identified.
Current PhD Opportunities


Scholarship Opportunities
Project Title or Vacancy Reference NumberContact for further detailsClosing Date
 Departmental Scholarships
 Sarah Willis The  first closing date for 2020/21 entry will be March 2020
For details of College Scholarships please search the Scholarships & Awards database.
Scholarship Opportunities

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. 

How to apply

How and when to apply?

Selection for research programmes occurs throughout the year. Students wishing to start in October would normally apply no later than April 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.

* Please note that applications for our research programmes received without prior consultation with a supervisor or through one of our open schemes, will take longer to process and are unlikely to be accepted.

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Identify two individuals to act as referees on your behalf. The references must be recent, relevant and dated.
  4. Prepare an up-to-date CV and a brief personal statement.
  5. 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)
Programme Codes
Programme Codes

  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.

After you have applied- The process and progress of your application


Following submission of the online application:

  1. You will receive an email acknowledgement that your application has been successfully submitted.
  2. 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.

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
  • CV-Resume
  • 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 application they will arrange an interview with you and another member of academic staff.  Where the applicant cannot attend, the interview will likely be conducted using Skype. 

Please allow at least 12 weeks for your application to be processed. Processing times can exceed this at particluarly busy periods of the year, and if your application is not complete e.g. delay with referees submitting a reference, no supervisor identified prior to application.

Decisions are reported to, and processed by, the College Admissions Office. Notifications are sent by email.

Apply now 

Further information resources for this course

Document to download  Handbook
Resources for this module
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.

MSc (Technical)

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

National Student Survey

  • Overall Satisfaction, 88% (2019); 84% (2018); 94% (2017); 96% (2016)

QS World Universities rankings

  • Subject Ranking. Civil Engineering = 6th (2019); 3rd (2018); 4th (2017); 5th (2016); 4th (2015); 9th (2014); 1st (2013). 
  • Overall, Imperial was voted 8th best university in the world in this year's QS rankings.

Guardian University Guide (UK)

  • Subject Ranking. Engineering: Civil = 1st (2020); Civil = 1st (2019); 1st (2018); 1st (2017); 1st (2016); 2nd (2015); 2nd (2014)
  • Overall, Imperial was ranked 7th in this year's Guardian university guide.

The Sunday Times University Guide (UK)

  • Subject Ranking. Civil, Chemical and other Engineering = 1st (2017); 1st (2016).

The Times Higher Education world ranking

  • Subject Ranking. Engineering and Information Technology = 7th (2018); 7th (2017); 9th (2016); 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

  • Subject Ranking. Civil Engineering = 1st (2018); 2nd (2017), 2nd (2016), 2nd (2015)
  • Overall, Imperial ranked 5th best university in this year's Complete University Guide.

Research assessments

  • 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*.