PhD studentships

PhD studentships are a type of scholarship for your research. Generally, a PhD studentship will provide at least the full standard UK/EU fees, and will usually include a maintenance stipend as well. The studentship will normally focus on an area of research that is of interest to the sponsoring party. Stay tuned for more PhD studentships in the future.

Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

An integrated approach to improve hydraulic and hydrologic design of constructed wetlands 

Closing date: Wednesday 5 January, 23.59pm

Subject description: The research subject Integrated Approach to Improve Hydraulic and Hydrologic Design of Constructed Wetlands includes the study of processes related to hydraulic criteria and mixing patterns for optimization of constructed wetlands efficiency and prediction of pollution mitigation into downstream waterways through quantification of hydrodynamics and transport processes.

Project Description: We are recruiting a PhD student on optimization of hydraulic criteria and hydrologic design of constructed wetlands. The student is expected to generate a unique database about treatment, mixing and physical characteristics of the systems obtained through field experiments, including tracer studies. Numerical modelling tools are to be applied on the validated obtained datasets of mixing, treatment and physical parameters.

The project will require field visits to collect data, analyses of data and development of a model to optimize the hydraulic design of the systems and the prediction of reduction of pollutant load based on the empirical datasets. It provides an excellent opportunity for the student to establish an international research profile through national and international projects and through our industrial collaborations with our external partners, including The Coal Authority, Constructed Wetland Association, Severn Trent, Thames21, and other partners.

Duties: The project will be conducted by the PhD student, together with supervisors and technical support personnel.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Investigation of flow and heat transfer in micro channels using nano-fluids 

Closing date: Sunday 5 January, 23.59pm

The objective of this research work will be to build a general purpose experimental test rig to assess the thermal performance, flow and pressure drop characteristics of the nano-fluid flow in a microchannel heat sink. The experiment will be carried out using selected nano-fluids of various volume concentrations. The effects of the thermophysical properties of the nano-fluid on the thermal performance and flow characteristics will also be investigated. Numerical methods using CFD will be used alongside experiments to investigate innovative designs of the microchannel. It is expected that the outputs of this project will further advance and support the development of the micro channel cooling capability.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Establishing the correlation between mixing speed and biogas production in anaerobic digestion

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a widely used renewable energy technique to obtain biogas from biomass such as sewage sludge and other feedstock. Biogas production from AD is incredibly complex and is affected by factors such as mixing speed, impeller type, temperature and feedstock, to name a few. Mixing in AD reactors, or digesters, ensures that the microbes come into contact with the biomass and thus promote methane production through enhanced degradation mechanisms.

Mixing speed affects the rate of biogas production, although some research has shown that higher speeds have inhibited methane production. Sindall et al (2013) demonstrated a correlation between mixing speed and methane production in a lab-scale sewage sludge experiment. However, above a certain mixing speed, the methane production appeared to rapidly decrease. The hypothesis for this decrease was that small-scale turbulence was destroying the microbes and thus inhibiting methane production. This project seeks to determine the influence of small-scale turbulence on biogas production in lab-scale ADs for a range of feedstock. Data will be obtained using a combination of lab-based experiments and computational fluid dynamics simulations.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Assessing the potential of using new technologies to supplement flood warnings and exposure assessment in areas at risk of surface water flooding

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

There exists today a great many more data sources for flood monitoring and advances in technology which are now making it feasible for data to be used in a more dynamic way for flood forecasting. Historical approaches to forecasting flood extents have traditionally relied heavily on modelling approaches, which are frequently difficult to fully validate.  Advances in drone technologies and other in-situ water sensors are expanding rapidly in terms of their usability and reliability. This project is jointly sponsored by BCU and FloodRe as industrial partner, who specialise in modelling improved spatial flood footprints to assist with loss estimation.

This proposed research project aims to evaluate the reliability of the new technologies, such as low cost sensors with Drone and Satellite image and its potential to assimilate data in with other data. The study will assess the potential for improved spatial flood footprints to assist with loss estimation and consider in more detail the benefits to the local community through an improved view of localised flooding. The research project will pilot within the Midlands region as Birmingham was subject to intense surface water flooding in May 2018 and is known to be at risk from flooding.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Sensor, IoT and Data Intelligence for Smart Water Networks 

Closing date: Saturday 30 November

The main objectives of the planned research is to investigate methodologies of connecting, integrating, updating, and managing heterogeneous distributed systems efficiently, including semantic annotations of heterogeneous data for automated discovery and knowledge-based processing to contribute to the technology development for building an IoT smart framework to support multi-sectorial decision making and information sharing to improve coordination among stakeholders for sustainable water management applications. Research activities will focus on smart interoperability frameworks to exploit heterogeneous sensor networks dynamically; and real time analytics with machine learning to support the dynamic web models for decision making. This position will be employed by Singular Logic, Greece, and be registered for PhD at Birmingham City University.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Sensor and IoT PhD information.

Numerical modelisation of the physics of wetlands

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

The project will consist of creating a numerical model of a wetland. It will be solved using standard FEA techniques and software (ansys/fluent, openfoam, etc.). In particular, it will allow to quantify the hydraulic performance of the wetland, and possibly to derive an ad hoc model. It will be fitted and compared to the available experimental data. Validation of the model will be carried out.

In addition to this, the porosity of the plants as a medium will be investigated. The influence of various parameters will be quantified, including for example the inclination of plants with respect to the time of the year, the variation in the water velocity due to different flow regimes, and the wind interference. It will be carried out using uncertainty quantification techniques, such as chaos expansion or Sobol analysis, or by fitting the model on the data, using Bayesian techniques.

In order to validate the model, on site experimental field work may be arranged to obtain new datasets if required. The work is of high interest and importance to the Environmentalists, Water Authorities & Councils, Regulators, Modellers, Wetland Designers, and other relevant stakeholders.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

The development of a framework to support the resilience of commercial properties to flooding

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

Government policy on flood risk and previous research on flood resilience have up to now mainly focussed on residential properties. But greater attention is shifting to commercial properties and other critical infrastructure. According to the EA, 185,000 commercial properties are located in flood prone areas in England alone. These properties are valued at £801bn or 15.8% of the value of total buildings and 2.2 per cent of total assets in the UK (Bhattacharya, et al., 2013). Commercial properties have specific characteristics (size, scale, construction methods, business functions, customers, supply chain, etc.), and the financial loss from flooding to commercial properties can be significantly higher than that from the residential properties. This merits a targeted research on the resilience of commercial properties to flooding. This work would support the recently launched National Infrastructure Commission consultation to gather views as part of its new study into the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure network.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Effective communications for resilient water communities

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

The typical water consumer has low engagement with water, sewerage and related environmental services.  This matters, because the water resource context is changing.  There are forecast water deficits in some areas and at the same time an increased risk of flooding due to changing weather patterns.  To offset this, and support water resilient communities, people are being asked to use less water, but tend to have low understanding of the issues behind this. 

While there is low engagement with services, analysis of user generated content on platforms such as Instagram shows that people can have a strong emotional connection with the water environment.  For example, people will post images or references to quality times spent in the outdoors enjoying rivers, lakes and bathing waters.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Using virtual reality games to encourage positive flood resilient behaviours among risk property owners

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

Flooding is a global phenomenon which causes widespread devastation, economic damages and loss of human life (Jha, et al., 2012). The dramatic increase in average annual economic and social costs of flood disaster can, to a greater extent, be explained by the effect of climate change, population growth and the increasing urbanisation of societies (Evans et al., 2004; OST 2007). Fay et al (2009) asserted that floods currently account for half of the fatalities across the world arising from natural disasters. In particular, there now appears to be clear evidence that climate change will lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme precipitation and other weather events (IPCC, 2007, IPCC 2012). For the UK this may well result in wetter and stormier winters (UKCIP, 2009). As such, it is predicted that the risk of flooding will at least double by 2080 (Evans et al., 2004) and that annual average damages will rise to some £4 billion by 2035 (Environment Agency, 2009).

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Design planning and modelling of urban areas in mitigating the risk of flood and drought with the application of CFD

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

The rapid development of urban area and climate change are becoming a major concern in threatening the increased intensity and frequency of flooding and drought. Such act will be exacerbating more impacts to businesses and residents especially on the affected areas. There is a need of improving the catchment area and connectivity of the water transport system in mitigating the issue of surface water flood that could channel to a storage for later use during drought season. With the advancement of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), this proposed research project is motivated to incorporate the numerical techniques of CFD in the design and planning process of mitigating the issue of flooding and drought. The study covers the analysis of surface water flooding and improvement of water transport system during the occurrence of flood in the urban area with the potential of integrating artificial waterway as an alternative solution to drought. At such, this research project will brings great relevance within the West Midland regions especially in the urban areas that are known to be at high risk from flooding and drought.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

The potential of constructed wetlands to reduce storm water run-off and pollution

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

Storm water runoff typically contains and transports a wide range of pollutants, resulting in negative environmental effects with potential threats to ecosystems and health. Hundreds of runoff treatment ponds and constructed wetlands (CWs) intended to moderate these impacts are likely to be delivering sub‐optimal (and perhaps actually below legally required) levels of improvement in water quality due to poor understanding of flow patterns, hydraulic design parameters and the effects of vegetation. At the same time there is an increasing push to consider natural approaches to reducing flood risk. This is strongly supported by the EU Floods Directive, as the European Commission recognises that flooding is an increasing problem in Europe. This PhD research will generate a unique dataset to describe the influence of different types and configurations of aqueous system (i.e. CWs and ponds) hydraulic designs and vegetation on their fundamental flow, and treatment characteristics. Parallel aim of this PhD research is to quantify and assess the capability of CWs and ponds in the reduction of peak flows, in order to alleviate urban runoff during storm events. The proposed tools will ensure that future wetland and pond designs meet all their water quantity and quality requirements, and ecosystem services objectives for current legislation and the increasingly stringent EU regulatory framework anticipated over the next decade.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Wireless sensor networks for smart enhanced canal environments

Closing date: Sunday 1 December 2019, 11.59pm

Wireless sensor networks are an exciting field of research that offer many opportunities for enhanced environmental monitoring and quality of life improvements. In this collaborative project, working with the Canal and Rivers Trust we wish to develop a system of wireless sensors that can not only monitor the canal environment, but also modify it creating a welcoming and pleasant urban space.

Using state of the art low power radio systems and energy harvesting technology you will develop a sensor network that can monitor a range of signals from acoustic to vibration and then develop software to identify the state of the canal tow path in terms of human acceptability and comfort. We will also investigate the potential ways in which the sensor network can modify the state of the network by for example, changing the lighting conditions, making audio announcements etc. A key feature of this research will be the need not only to work with and develop technology but also understand the nature of the urban tow path and how it is perceived by its users.

For information on entry requirements and more, please download the accompanying Word document.

Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences

How do students assess debt? A socio-cognitive investigation

Closing date: Thursday 31 October, 23.59pm

This project will involve a systematic investigation into the cognitive and social factors that underpin students’ perception and appraisal of indebtedness. This is in order to examine how cognitive biases and abilities, social norms comparisons and socio-economic status can interact to determine students’ concern about, and decision-making related to, debt. The subsequent effects on debt-related outcomes, including participation in higher education and strategies to deal with debt will also be addressed. We expect the present project to be quantitative in nature and to utilise different methodologies such questionnaire- and laboratory-based studies, and intervention studies to assess the applicability of the principles observed through prior testing.

For more information on requirements, supervisors and more, please visit this page.

Exploring the Biological Foundations of Leadership Perceptions

Closing date: Thursday 31 October, 23.59pm

The majority of studies developed to investigate leadership perceptions within the field of Implicit Leadership Theories, have approached the phenomenon from a socio-psychological perspective. There are far less studies attempting to explore biological individual differences regarding our perceptions of leadership. Yet, we do know that individual differences in accepting leadership behaviour do exist. Hence, the question arises whether there are any specific biological factors that also govern these differences. Based on a number of studies there are four hormones and neurotransmitters that influence leadership, motivation, creativity (such as dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen/oxytocin). Therefore, this project seeks to explore the relationship between these hormones and neurotransmitters with leadership perception and leadership behaviour.

For more information on requirements, supervisors and more, please visit this page.