Fully Funded EPSRC and Swansea PhD Scholarship: Interpretable Machine Learning Modelling of Future Extreme Floods under Climate Change

Swansea University

Swansea, UK 🇬🇧


Closing date: 3 February 2023

Key Information

Funding providers: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) DTP and Swansea University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering

Subject areas: Civil Engineering

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project supervisor: 

  • Dr Yunqing Xuan (Primary)
  • Dr Ji Li (Secondary)

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Civil Engineering

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description: 

Machine learning (ML) is a powerful technique that has rapidly found many applications across numerous disciplines. Estimating climate change impact on future extreme events such as super floods and heatwaves has been traditionally carried out using physically and process-based hydro-climatic models, however, ML based modelling has become a new focal area recently thanks to its ability to account for the highly complex, nonlinear physical and social-physical interactions in this context. A huge challenge that still remains in ML modelling for future extreme floods, is its ‘black-box’ nature where the interactions among various components, e.g., neurons, are hardly explainable, which hinders its further use in supporting important decision making to address climate change impact mitigation.

This PhD project is aimed to develop a set of ML modelling tool kits with improved interpretability and transparency for predicting future risks of extreme floods under the impact of climate change. The expected outcome of the project will offer an accountable and reliable modelling support for critical decision making on mitigation measures against extreme floods under the changing climate. The project will be supported by our existing expertise in HPC-based hydro-climatic modelling and the collaborations with multiple agencies.


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. See ‘country specific information for European and international applicants (available at the bottom of the page)’.

Additional requirements apply:

  • Essential – knowledge of hydrology and hydraulics, statistics
  • Desirable – knowledge of climate science, hydrological modelling, programming skills in any one of the languages Python/MATLAB/R/Fortran, experience of Linux.

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. Details on the Swansea University English Language entry policy can be found here.

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

NB: If you are holding a non-UK degree, please see Swansea University degree comparisons to find out if you meet the eligibility. 

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email pgrscholarships@swansea.ac.uk with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rate (currently £17,668 for 2022/23).

Additional research expenses will also be available. 

How to Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

  1. Course choice – please select Civil Engineering / PhD / Full-time / 3 Year / OctoberIn the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email pgrscholarships@swansea.ac.uk where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.
  2. Start year – please select 2023
  3. Funding (page 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS213 – PhD Civil Eng

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University: 

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
  • A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Dr Yunqing Xuan (y.xuan@swansea.ac.uk).

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development