PhD studentship in Environmental Engineering: Persistent droughts and water supply system risk in a changing climate via FindAPhD

Newcastle University

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project


Droughts present a significant risk to public water supply systems in England and so water companies are now planning to meet 1 in 500-year drought resilience standards. However, it is essential that climate change is taken into account.

In the west of the UK, water resource systems are dominated by upland reservoir storage. Typically, reservoir storage draws down from March/April and refills through the autumn/winter. In sustained dry weather there is little inflow to the reservoirs, with severe drought occurrence dependent on prolonged atmospheric blocking systems. Significant infrastructure investment is planned to ensure water resources are resilient to future extreme droughts.

There is a knowledge gap around the patterns of long-term precipitation anomalies and how they might extend beyond summer months. Going beyond historical data to understand plausible more extreme events under climate change, is vital to enhance our understanding of risk and its mitigation. This WIRe CDT PhD will use the latest climate model outputs and stochastic weather generators to characterise the risk to supply systems. It will result in an improved understanding of drought risk, allowing United Utilities to protect its customers from the consequences of longer duration droughts by providing methods for incorporating risk assessments into water resources planning.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

25 September 2023

Award Duration

4 years

Application Closing Date

31 March 2023


EPSRC & United Utilities


Dr Stephen BlenkinsopDr Elizabeth Lewis (Newcastle UniversityDr Richard Blackwell (United Utilities)

Eligibility Criteria

A First Meng/MSc in a relevant subject or First or upper second class UG degree (2:1). Enthusiasm for research, the ability to think and work independently, excellent analytical skills and strong verbal and written communication skills are also essential requirements.

Under the 30% UKRI international recruitment policy, Newcastle will pay the international fee difference for International applicants (including EU) awarded a WIRe CDT studentship at Newcastle (limited to 1 PhD student per academic year).

Further information will be provided at application stage. Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills.

International applicants may require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme. 

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.  

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:  

·      search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code:8209F 

·      Select ‘PhD Water Infrastructure & Resilience (WIRe)’ as the programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section:  

·      a ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) – upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form  

·      the studentship code WIRE2305 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field  

·      when prompted for how you are providing your research proposal – select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert. You do not need to upload a research proposal.  

Contact Details

Funding Notes

Fully funded Studentship with a tax-free annual living allowance of £21,000, a research training support grant + UKRI fees paid.





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