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Structural Integrity PhD

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Subject area: Mechanical Engineering
Study mode

3-year full-time; 6-year part-time

UCAS code


Start date

Study location

The programme is delivered at the NSIRC facilities in Cambridge.

Structural Integrity PhD


Fully funded opportunities for Home/EU and International Students

PhD scholarships are available throughout the year for this programme.  Please browse currently funded opportunities here.  

Location linked to industry

The programme is delivered at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility in Cambridge, established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI. Find out more about living in Cambridge here.  View the NSIRC Accommodation Brochure.

About the course

Brunel University London has partnered with the National Structural Integrity Research Centre to provide an opportunity for students to undertake in-depth research in combination with the industrial experience of TWI across the varied disciplines essential to structural integrity. Read more here

Research profile

Considering the expertise and track record of both Brunel and NSIRC-based staff, the following areas have been identified as the main research strengths within in the wider field of Structural Integrity: 

  • Dynamic response of materials and structures (modelling, experimental characterisation and design/optimisation for composites and metals); 
  • Structural health monitoring based on ultrasound wave propagation and acoustic emissions in solids (modelling, experimental validation, signal processing and sensors); 
  • Steel, concrete and hybrid structures (material design, manufacturing, modelling and experimental characterisation); 
  • Fatigue and fracture (modelling, experimental characterisation);
  • Extreme loading (e.g. fire, earthquake, blast and progressive collapse)
  • Fluid structure interaction (unboned flexible risers)
  • Manufacturing (e.g. sheet metal forming, bulk forming, casting, extrusion, 3D printing).

The cutting-edge fundamental and applied research, in the above stated areas provides fertile environment for PhD students. While we welcome all multidisciplinary topics in the area of Structural Integrity,  here is a list of potential research areas we would like to supervise:

  • Anisotropic material modelling: Development of physically based constitutive model for the large deformation response and failure of target materials. This student will build upon existing research at Brunel in this area.
  • Treatment of uncertainty including errors: Development of a methodology based on regression for characterising the variation in properties such as material properties and propagating this through to the consequent variation in the final structure.
  • Hybrid spatial discretisation techniques based on coupling of FE and meshless techniques. This (combined with 1,2&3) will enable modelling of challenging problems characterised by failure/damage front, phase change or shock wave propagation.
  • Material characterisation:  how to practically determine material properties including variation for anisotropic materials – potential of using elastic wave propagation as one tool.

Found out more


The programme is delivered at the NSIRC facilities based in Cambridge. A proportion of the research activities may take place out in the field (external sites) including industrial client sites depending on the details of the particular project. However, students are based at NSIRC at least 90 percent of the time, where they are able to take advantage of their partner university resources such as the virtual learning environment, library and academic support.

Click here for directions to NSIRC


A key aim of the PhD programme is to supply a stream of industry-ready, world-class engineers and scientists in structural integrity disciplines such as fail-safe design, corrosion control, structural health monitoring, ageing asset management and fitness for service. 


Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)

Course content

Research degrees evolve in different ways according to discipline. Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure

The research focuses on the knowledge and skills most relevant to a career in technical and engineering roles where understanding and achieving structural integrity is a key element. All research topics are directly linked with the needs of industry.

Research areas cover (but are not limited to):

  • Process Capability Study for Friction Stir Spot Welding (FSSW) - Benchmarking the Process Variants

  • A combination of fracture mechanics and elasto-dynamics for damage detection in wind turbine rotating structures using BEM analysis

  • Online remote condition monitoring using statistical analysis based on a small number of experimental results using AE and vibration analysis

  • Development of vibration based condition monitoring for the assessment of damage in pipeline

  • Development of OMA technique for Integrated condition monitoring of structures and machineries

  • Joining dissimilar materials for future automotive structures - Developing new resistance welding technologies to create high integrity multi-material joints

  • Tailored Energy Distribution for Laser Beam Processing

  • Laser processing of Fibre Reinforced Plastic Composites

  • Effect of biaxility on the fracture & plastic collapse behaviour of pipeline girth welds


Careers and your future

Almost all our successful PhD students get one or more job offers before completing their PhD studies. In structural integrity, we have well established collaboration with a number of industrial partners from the following sectors automotive, aerospace, energy, transport, oil and gas and defence. These include Rolls Royce, Airbus, Augusta Westland, Eurocopter, Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, Mercedes Petronas F1, McLaren F1, Williams F1, Network Rail, AWE, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, BP, Shell, Lloyds Register, Zentech, Dunlop Oil and Marine, and TWI

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Entry criteria 2019/20

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.

Research statement

As part of our application process for entry on our research degree (MPhil and PhD) programmes, we ask you to provide a 500-1,000 word research statement, excluding any references/bibliography you may include, setting out your research motivation, ideas and aspirations. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.  

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU entry requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.

Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.

We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.

Teaching and learning

Supervisors with insight
Our supervisors create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip research students with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Browse all potential supervisor profiles further here: Structural Integrity Theme Members Profiles. Supervisors provide mentoring, guidance and research leadership in their technical areas. 

Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team here.

Dynamic response of materials and structures
James Campbell, Kevin Hughes, Tom De Vuyst, Nenad Djordjevic, Rui Cardoso, Bin Wang, Simon Show, Rade Vignjevic

Structural health monitoring based on ultrasound wave propagation and acoustic emissions in solids
Ray Kirby, Jane Lawrie, Matthias Maischak, Cristinel Mares, Tat-Hean Gan, Keming Yu, Aleksey Pichugin

Steel, concrete and hybrid structures
Asif Usmani, Katherine Cashell, Kai Tai Wan, Sheida Afshan, Xiangming Zhou, Hari-Babu Nadendla,

Fatigue and fracture
Sergey Mikhailov, John Whiteman, Luiz Wrobel, Keming Yu

Extreme loading
Asif Usmani, James Campbell, Rade Vignjevic

Fluid structure interaction
Hamid Bahai, James Campbell, Tom De Vuyst, Evgeniya Nolde

Rui Cardoso, Kevin Hughes, Hari-Babu Nadendla, Jim Song, Asif Usmani, Giulio Alfano, Hamid Bahai, Rui Cardoso, Christopher Brown, Katherine Cashell, Tat-Hean Gan, Ray Kirby, Jane Lawrie, Matthias Maischak, Cristinel Mares, Sergey Mikhailov, Evgeniya Nolde, Aleksey Pichugin, John Whiteman, Simon Shaw, Matthias Winter, Luiz Wrobel, Xianming Zhou, Bin Wang, Kai Tai Wan, Keming Yu, Hari-Babu Nadendla, James Campbell, Kevin Hughes, Tom De Vuyst, Nenad Djordjevic, Matthias Winter, Rade Vignjevic

Special features

In structural integrity, we have well established collaboration with a number of industrial partners who have supported a range of fundamental and applied PhD research projects. Our partners include:
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • British Council
  • Caterpillar Inc
  • Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK
  • Constellium France SAS
  • DSTL Commercial Services
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • European Commission
  • European Space Agency
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England
  • Intel Corporation USA
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Korea Institute of Industrial Technology
  • mLED Limited
  • National Aerospace Technology Programme
  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Power OLEDs Ltd
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council
  • Technology Strategy Board
  • The Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers Alias Wire Workers
  • TWI Limited

Equipment and Lab Facilities

Students at NSIRC conduct their research using some of the world's most advanced analysis and testing technologies. NSIRC houses £20 million of state-of-the-art equipment, acquired using investment from BIS and HEFCE.

This equipment ensures that NSIRC has world-leading capabilities, is best placed to meet its research commitments, and is able to address the research topics specified by the industrial partners. It includes:

  • Metallic and polymeric materials analysis and characterisation equipment.
  • Advanced testing equipment to measure fracture, fatigue, creep and corrosion performance.
  • High pressure testing equipment for large scale tests in pipes and vessels.
  • Equipment for testing in H 2 S, CO 2 and other aggressive environments.
  • Re-configurable, large scale facilities for specialised component / structure testing.
  • Systems and software for process simulation, modelling of structural performance and lifetime prediction.
  • Residual stress measurement equipment.
  • A range of NDT equipment for defect detection and procedure development.
  • Remote and intelligent sensors and data analysis tools for condition monitoring applications.
  • Selected welding / coating and thermal cycle simulation equipment for characterisation, development and proving of high integrity processes.
  • Specific / bespoke equipment to address defined areas of research focus of the NSIRC founder sponsors.
  • Dimensional measurement equipment.
  • Equipment for test piece preparation (cutting, welding, machining etc.)

Excellent research support and training

Extensive training and support is offered to all research students by the Graduate School, with regular Masterclasses and individual advice on academic issues as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Read more about the available Research Support and Training.

Library services
Brunel's library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 e-books, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject Information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.

  • state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research publication and grant database
  • one of the largest UK’s full text repository
  • an integrated data management system
  • analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
  • Open Access centrally managed fund


The degree is accredited by The Welding Institute as further learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Students working on projects in the field of non-destructive testing will also be able to acquire membership of BINDT (British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing).

Facts and figures

In the recent REF 2014 Assessment Engineering and Design ranked amongst London's biggest and best.

Brunel University London REF2014 Submission
Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering
General Engineering

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008.  The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students

Fees and funding

Fees for 2019/20 entry


Home/EU students:

International students:

Fees (per year):




Part-time (for students not requiring Tier 4 visa)













Some courses incur additional course related costs.

Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.