Research Studentship in Development of a Practical Soil Constitutive Model Suitable for the Design of Offshore Wind Turbine Foundations in Sand, Considering Cyclic Loading – Laboratory Testing

4-year DPhil (or DEng) studentship starting October 2020

Supervisors: Professor Chris Martin and Dr Brian Sheil

The successful applicant will work on a collaborative research project involving Fugro and the University of Oxford, and will join the EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures (WAMESS CDT). Fugro are the world’s leading geo-data specialist, collecting and analysing comprehensive information about the Earth and the structures built upon it.

Project Description

The overall project aims to develop a practical constitutive model for sand that can be used for the analysis and design of offshore wind turbine foundations subjected to cyclic wind and wave loading. This work will build upon a substantial research effort previously undertaken by Fugro and the University of Oxford.

This studentship (Laboratory Testing) will involve performing and interpreting advanced cyclic laboratory tests (e.g. cyclic triaxial and/or cyclic simple shear tests) on sand. It will explore how cyclic element test results may be used to inform the development and calibration of modern constitutive models for use in numerical analysis. Candidates with demonstrable practical engineering skills and/or a background in geotechnical laboratory testing are sought.

A second studentship (Numerical Analysis) will run in parallel and will focus on developing, implementing and testing a constitutive model suitable for predicting the behaviour of offshore wind turbine foundations installed in sand.

The successful applicant will benefit from close interaction with a strong team of industry experts based at Fugro’s offices in Wallingford, UK. He/she will also be a member of the WAMESS CDT, which is a collaboration between the Universities of Strathclyde, Oxford and Edinburgh. Further details of the WAMESS CDT programme can be found on the course page on the University’s graduate admissions website. The CDT is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and is keen to attract applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds.


This studentship is funded by Fugro and is open to both UK and EU applicants.

Award Value

Course fees will be covered at the level set for UK/EU students (currently £7970 p.a.) and a stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) will be paid at the enhanced rate applicable to WAMESS CDT students (currently £18232 p.a.). Suitable candidates may be offered the opportunity to undertake this studentship as a company-based DEng (engineering doctorate) rather than a DPhil.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class, or strong upper second class, honours degree in civil engineering or a related discipline
  • Excellent mathematical and computational skills
  • Ability to undertake scientific programming (e.g. in Matlab, Python, Fortran or C/C++)
  • Appreciation of design methods for offshore foundations
  • Enthusiasm to undertake the research required for a doctorate
  • Excellent written and spoken English communication skills
  • Excellent record of academic and/or professional achievement

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Professor Chris Martin and Dr Brian Sheil. Please quote 20WAMESS_CM2 in all correspondence.

Formal applications are to be made using the online Graduate Application Form that is accessible through the WAMESS CDT course page (click the “Apply” button on the “How to Apply” tab). When filling out the fields of the Graduate Application Form, please observe the following guidance.

On the “Course” tab:

  • Proposed field and title of research project: Development of a Practical Soil Constitutive Model Suitable for the Design of Offshore Wind Turbine Foundations in Sand, Considering Cyclic Loading – Laboratory Testing

On the “Funding” tab:

  • Are you applying for an advertised studentship competition(s): Yes
  • Advertised reference code: 20WAMESS_CM2

Application Deadline

3 March 2020

Start Date

1 October 2020