PhD studentship: Advanced Design of Metal Structures


  • Qualification type: PhD
  • Subject area: Structural Engineering
  • Location/Campus: College Lane Campus, Hatfield
  • Closing application date: 15 March 2024
  • Duration: Full time - three years

Applications are invited for a three year full-time PhD studentship in the School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science (SPECS) at the University of Hertfordshire. The successful candidate will play an important role in helping the development of structural steel engineering research capabilities in the new multi-million SPECS building to open very soon.

Project Outline

This PhD project will focus on the structural behaviour of metal elements aiming to develop efficient design guidelines of metal structures. Extensive academic reviews leading to comprehensive understanding of existing data on structural behaviour will take place followed by extensive validated numerical modelling and/or testing that will contribute to the development of reliable design recommendations and significant advancements in technical knowledge. The research project will explore the behaviour of metals at material, member and/or frame levels.

Research findings are expected to contribute to validation and extension of new and existing provisions in national and international design codes in structural engineering and significant advances in the structural use of metals. Expected project outcomes will contribute to a more robust, efficient, and sustainable design of metal structures.

Align with this research framework, a range of PhD research topics is possible:

  • Design of steel plated members using advanced numerical modelling.
  • Behaviour and design of structural steel connection systems for reuse.
  • Characterisation of thermo-structural behaviour of metal alloys at multi-scale levels.
  • Structural behaviour and design of special steel members (e.g. built-up, curved, tapered).


  • Dr Gabriel Barros dos Santos

About the University of Hertfordshire

The University of Hertfordshire is based in Hatfield, just a 30-minute train journey from central London. The University has been awarded the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Badge and it is a member of the Athena SWAN Charter, demonstrating its commitment to gender equality in higher education and research. We are committed to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and hold the HR Excellence in Research award.

Entry requirements


  • Bachelor degree with very good academic records in civil engineering or other relevant discipline such related engineering, physics, mathematics or material science.
  • Master (MSc/MEng) degree or equivalent work experience relevant to the research project.
  • Good written and spoken communication skills in English (minimum IELTS 6.5 or equivalent).
  • Highly self-motivated to pursuit a full-time research programme.
  • Good problem-solving skills and attention to detail.
  • Well organised and ability to work independently.

Desirable (non-essential)

  • Experience in numerical modelling (software Abaqus), including programming skills.
  • Familiarity with testing of structural components.


This studentship is open to home/EU and international applicants. For further information, please read ‘Funding information’ below.

How to apply

Please download and complete the application form for PhD at University of Hertfordshire.

Please note that in section 11 of the application form, you should provide a comprehensive personal statement describing (1) your motivation to conduct research the proposed project at the University of Hertfordshire and (2) how you meet the essential and desirable requirements, if any.

Please also send with your application form the following documents:

  • A research proposal aligned with a topic of this project not exceeding two A4 pages.
  • Qualification certificates and transcripts.
  • Certification of English language competence (minimum IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) for candidates who do not have English as their first language.
  • Two academic references. You should arrange for your referees to send their reference via email directly to the Doctoral College.

You should submit your application via email to UH Doctoral College by the closing date, 15 March 2024.

Informal enquires can be made to Dr Gabriel Barros dos Santos

Interviews dates: Mid to end of March 2024.

Start date: May 2024 or soon thereafter.

Funding information

Fully funded for UK, EU and international students. The studentship is for 3 years and covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend at UKRI rate (currently £18,622 for 2023/24).