PhD Position in Mechanical Engineering

University of Nottingham


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Friday 31 May 2024
Reference:  ENG1764

Project description

Construction of large and deep shafts in urban areas is necessary for various construction activities, such as tunnel construction where shafts serve as integral components of the tunnel construction and often operational phases. As tunnels are constructed ever deeper due to the congestion of underground space, so must the shafts be sunk to deeper levels. Shafts may suffer stability issues as a result of various factors, which can, in the worst case, result in catastrophic failures, or more typically in ground movements. These ground movements, which can have serious and detrimental effects on nearby existing structures and infrastructure in urban areas, are the topic of this PhD project.

The PhD student will work with Professor Alec Marshall and Dr Charles Heron of the Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics alongside Dr Benoit Jones from INBYE Engineering. The PhD studentship will be partly funded by the British Tunnelling Society (BTS). The successful candidate will benefit from the direct involvement from industry through Dr Jones and representatives of the BTS – ensuring that this PhD project is directly relevant to today's industry needs and ensure that project outcomes have an immediate impact on industry practices. 

This PhD project aims to:

  • Study experimentally using reduced scale physical models in the Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics 2m diameter geotechnical centrifuge, the processes involved with deep shaft construction and how aspects of shaft construction and/or stability affect resulting ground displacements.
  • Using a novel hybrid physical-numerical modelling approach pioneered in Nottingham for tunnel-structure interaction, experimentally quantify the effects that ground displacements have on nearby buildings.
  • Integrate project outcomes into accessible design methods/charts for immediate use by industry.

Numerical modelling of the problem may also be included depending on the background and specific expertise/interests of the PhD candidate.

Application details

The position is available to start in October, December, February, April or July (subject to date of application)

Duration: 3 years


Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class or 2.1 honours degree (or international equivalent) in Engineering or a related subject. A relevant Master's degree in these areas would be advantageous. 

Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for Home candidates. International students may be considered but should contact Prof Alec Marshall before applying to discuss.


This PhD studentship is fully funded for 36 months. This funding covers the payment of tuition fees at the UK/home rate and gives you a tax-free stipend at the standard UKRI rate (£19,237  for 2024/25). International students must pay the difference between UK and international fees.

How to apply

Informal contact can be sent to Prof Alec Marshall ( before submitting an online application. Please send a cover letter and a copy of your CV with your up-to-date relevant experience. 

Online application can be made via Please quote the studentship reference and Prof Alec Marshall. 

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.