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Research Studentship in Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering

Project: Virtual Experiments with Discrete Dislocation Plasticity

3.5-year D.Phil. studentship

Supervisor: Prof. Ed Tarleton & Prof. Felix Hofmann

You will be part of a small dynamic team in the Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering Group in Oxford, developing a state of the art computational model to simulate a range of micro mechanical tests and microscopy data. The key goal is to capture the fundamental mechanisms that control material strength and failure, and how these are modified e.g. by irradiation, corrosion, fatigue, etc. This project focuses on developing our discrete dislocation plasticity code. This is a coupled discrete dislocation/finite element model written in Matlab that can simulate the evolution of large complex dislocation structures in micromechanical tests [1,2]. You will be checking and improving various aspects of the code such at the remeshing, mobility laws and time integration scheme. You will also be implementing new algorithms and developing new ideas to improve the computational usability and efficiency of the code. You will use these advances to perform virtual experiments, with the aim of directly matching the 3D evolution of complex dislocation structures observed in experiments. Further you will explore how the effects of material degradation can be captured in dislocation dynamics simulations, and how behaviour at the dislocation scale can be coarse grained for simulations at the component scale. This project would suit someone with a strong background and interest in solid mechanics, computational materials science, materials engineering, applied maths or physics who enjoys coding and modelling.

[1] Formation of prismatic dislocation loops during unloading in nanoindentation, H Yu, ACF Cocks, E Tarleton, Scripta Materialia 189, 112-116.

[2] Discrete dislocation plasticity HELPs understand hydrogen effects in bcc materials, H Yu, A Cocks, E Tarleton, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 123, 41-60.


This studentship is funded through the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership and is open to Home students (full award – home fees plus stipend). Full details of the eligibility requirements can be found on the UK Research and Innovation website.

There is very limited flexibility to support international students. If you are an international student and want to apply for this studentship please contact the supervisor to see whether the flexibility might be available for you.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for Home students (c. £8290 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £15285 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two and a half years. 

Candidate Requirements

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

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering, Physics or Materials Science
  • Excellent mathematical and analytical skills
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively as part of a team
  • Strong enthusiasm for computational material science

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Ability to program in either Matlab, C, CUDA.
  • Familiarity with FEM and elasticity theory
  • Familiarity with GitHub

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Prof. Ed Tarleton ( or Prof. Felix Hofmann (

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote 21ENGVEDDP_ETFH in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: noon on 22 January 2021 (In line with the late January admissions deadline, set by the University)

Start date: October 2021