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School of Civil Engineering

Research degrees

Research Degrees - School of Civil Engineering - University of Leeds


**Funded PhD opportunities available**

The School of Civil Engineering’s research has high impact both in academia and in everyday life. Civil engineering is focused on providing the infrastructure that society relies on; our research impacts on all members of society and on the wider environment. We believe that, as civil engineers, we must view our state-of-the-art technical advances in the wider societal and economic context.

At Leeds, we are proud of our achievements in cross-disciplinary work and see this as essential to our approach. Our PhD students are at the forefront of addressing the challenges and increasing uncertainties due to economic change, climate variability and urbanisation.

The School of Civil Engineering’s research activity is led by two institutes:

Institute for Resilient Infrastructure ensures that the physical infrastructure systems underpinning our way of life can adapt to changes, both in the way we use them and in the social and physical environment in which they are created, designed, built and operated.

Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering takes a global outlook in public health and environmental engineering, investigating the interactions between infrastructure, the environment and human health. Research focuses on resource recovery from wastes, bioremediation, airborne disease transmission, water and sanitation.

The School has a wide range of modern experimental facilities to support postgraduate research projects.

We have a thriving postgraduate community here at Leeds with more than 3,000 postgraduate researchers studying across the University. This vibrant community, coupled with our sheer size and breadth means that you’ll be surrounded by academics and like-minded researchers, providing excellent opportunities for networking and collaboration.

Undertaking a research degree is both enormously challenging and rewarding. Not only does it provide you with the opportunity to strengthen your research skills and knowledge, it will help you develop a much wider range of attributes, whether you want to develop your career in business and industry or in an
academic environment.

School research brochure: Download
Postgraduate research brochure: Download

PhD study

Research degree programmes have the objectives of training students in the skills and techniques of conducting research, developing understanding and enthusiasm for a selected research topic, and accelerating the development of a mature, critical and self-motivated approach to the acquisition and application of specialist knowledge.

We offer two types of research degree:

• Masters by Research (MSc Eng Res) - 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
• Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - 3 years full-time or 5 years part-time

A PhD is the most internationally recognised research qualification, and is the most commonly pursued research degree as Leeds. You are expected to carry out a programme of research in a particular area under the supervision of a primary supervisor and one or more co-supervisors.

Supervisors are usually staff within the School; however co-supervisors may be from another discipline, another institution or even industry depending on the project and funding source.

You are assessed at the end of your first year (second year for part-time students) through a report and oral examination; successful completion enables progression into the remaining years. At the end of the programme you will prepare a thesis (of up to 100,000 words), which describes your research and your original contribution to knowledge; the thesis is assessed by oral examination (viva voce). During your studies you will be expected to give seminars and write papers for scientific journals and conferences.

During your time at Leeds you will have access to a broad programme of skills training and professional development. This will help you complete your research effectively and to keep you at the leading edge of developments in learning and teaching, innovation, enterprise and knowledge transfer to help you succeed in future employment.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements
We would normally expect applicants for postgraduate research to have achieved one of the following in a subject relevant to the proposed research:

• a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2.1), or equivalent, or
• a good performance in a Masters level course.

We also recognise relevant industrial and academic experience and special circumstances in the consideration of applicants.

English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you are required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. You will need to meet our minimum requirements for one of the following recognised English language tests:

• IELTS: 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in listening, reading, speaking and writing
• TOEFL (Internet based test): 87 overall with at least 20 in listening and reading, 22 in speaking and 21 in writing.

More information about English language qualifications is available on the University's website.

Language Centre
The University of Leeds Language Centre provides the Academic English for Postgraduate Studies pre-sessional course which is designed to help international students develop the necessary language and academic study skills required for successful study on a research degree programme at the University of Leeds. Courses are offered throughout the year with starting dates in September, January, April, July or August.

For further information, please visit the Language Centre’s website or contact the Language Centre via e-mail:

Fees and funding

You are classified as either a ‘UK/EU’ or ‘international’ student for the purpose of assessing tuition fees. International students will pay a higher fee than UK students as the fees for UK and EU students are subsidised by the UK government.

UK/EU – £4,100
International - £17,500

UK/EU – £4,250
International - £18,500

When to pay
Fees must be paid in full before you can register as a postgraduate student, unless you will be paying for yourself. If you are self-supporting you can pay fees in two instalments, the first payable at registration. If you are supported by your government, employer, or other sponsor, you should provide a letter from them addressed to the University, confirming that the fees will be paid directly. Sponsors cannot pay by instalments. For further information visit the Student Finance website.

Scholarships and funding
Postgraduate research study is a major investment in your future, but there is support available to help ease the financial pressure.

The University and external funding bodies, such as Research Councils, offer a range of scholarships to UK, EU and international students that cover full or partial course fees, and/ or maintenance payments. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and are very competitive, so it is important you make enquiries and apply to all relevant sources as early as possible.

Scholarships for UK/EU students
Scholarships for International students

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online via the
'I want to apply' page on the Postgraduate Research website.

Please complete the application form as fully as you can ensuring you complete the following sections:

• your expected source of funding
• grade(s) or degree classification(s) for your degree-level qualifications
• your proposed research area
• a brief one-paragraph summary of your research interests or proposed topic.

Please also ensure you upload or provide the following documents:

• copies of your degree certificate(s)
• transcripts of marks achieved in degree-level qualifications
• evidence of English language qualifications
• references if available (alternatively, the Faculty will contact your named academic referees directly).

If these documents are not available, please provide them at the earliest opportunity, as we cannot usually make an offer without them.

If possible, please include a CV (this will provide invaluable information as to work experience and publications) and a research proposal unless you are applying for a specific project studentship or Centre for Doctoral Training.

Research Proposal
Although it is not a formal requirement, we encourage candidates to submit a research proposal. The proposal does not necessarily commit you to a precise project, however it gives a good indication of your research interests and gives academic staff an opportunity to see a sample of your writing. Projects can be further negotiated during the admissions process.

We would recommend that a research proposal is structured broadly as follows:

• a description of the research problem.
• an argument as to why that problem is important.
• a review of literature relevant to the research problem - this should provide a conceptual framework for the reader and demonstrate that the researcher is aware of the breadth and diversity of literature that relates to the research question.
• a description of the proposed research methodology.
• a description of how the research findings will be used and the potential impact/societal benefit of the research.

Please ensure that all content is properly attributed. We would suggest that the maximum length of a proposal is 4 sides of A4.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) and Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)
Non EU/EEA nationals planning to undertake postgraduate study in the UK in certain science, engineering or technology disciplines need to acquire an ATAS certificate and a CAS before they can apply for a Visa, Entry Clearance (EC) or Extension of Stay (EoS). More information is available Postgraduate Research website.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact:

Graduate School Office
t: +44 (0)113 343 8000