Skip to main content

Research Studentship in Geotechnical Analysis and Design

Research Studentship in Geotechnical Analysis and Design

Project: Advanced methods for the design of foundations and anchors for offshore wind energy structures

4-year DPhil (PhD) studentship starting October 2023


Supervisors: Professor Harvey Burd  

Offshore wind farms provide an increasingly important contribution to the UK’s energy needs. Offshore wind turbine support structures in coastal waters are typically founded on monopiles although other options – such as caisson foundations – are also employed. The ability of a wind turbineto generate energy increases with the scale of the structure; foundation design procedures therefore need to evolve to account for likely future increases in geometric scale. Also, future wind farm developments may need to extend to deeper waters. There is therefore a need for new, efficient, foundation analysis and design procedures to support the development of next-generation offshore wind farms. There is also a need for new procedures to analyse and design anchor systems to tether future floating wind platforms to the seabed.

This project is concerned with the development of new computationally-efficient analysis procedures for the design of foundation systems for both fixed and floating offshore wind turbines. These procedures need to provide robust designs taking account of the variability and uncertainties in the seabed soils as well as addressing uncertainties in environmental loading conditions. The design methods to be developed will account for emerging trends in offshore wind farm design (e.g. deeper water, larger scale, floating systems).

The project will address these issues by pursing one or more of the following approaches; (i) development of new fast computing options for 3D analysis of foundations incorporating bespoke hardware-specific programming (ii) machine learning applications (iii) implementation of analysis procedures for cyclic loading (iv) development of design approaches for anchors for floating wind.

The project will involve extensive coding and computationally intensive finite element analysis. Depending on choices made on the direction of the research the project will seek to employ machine learning procedures to improve the robustness, efficiency and scope of design procedures.

The successful applicant will be a member of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures (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. The successful applicant will be a member of Brasenose College.


This studentship is funded by the WAMESS CDT and is open to both UK and International applicants, although fees will only be covered at the Home rate. For an outstanding International applicant it may be possibleto have International fees discounted to Home level, but there is extremely limited flexibility for this. Further details about fee status can be found here under the “Fee Status” tab.

Award Value

Course fees will be covered at the level set for Home/ROI students (£8960 p.a.) and a stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) will be paid at the enhanced rate applicable to WAMESS CDT students (to be confirmed, but no less than £20891 p.a.).

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to the following criteria:

A first class, or strong upper second class, honours degree in general engineering, civil engineering or cognate discipline
Excellent mathematical and programming skills
Previous background in geotechnical engineering
Background in machine learning or an interest developing expertise in this area
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 ProfessorHarvey Burd (

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: Advanced methods for the design of foundations and anchors for offshore wind energy structures

On the “Funding” tab:

Are you applying for an advertised studentship competition(s): Yes
Advertised reference code: 23ENGCI_HB


Application deadline: 9th December 2022

Start date: 25th September 2023