PhD Studentship in flood and landslide risk to transport infrastructure

Newcastle University

Newcastle, , GB

Value of award

Full UK/EU fees (eligibility criteria applies to EU students) and annual living allowance of at least £19,000 (standard UKRI rate PLUS industrial top up)

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2020, 4 years

Application closing date

17:00 Friday 24/04/2020


Road and rail networks typically follow long, level routes adjacent to rivers making the ground that supports them particularly vulnerable to flood induced modes of failure. Case study sites along the Tyne Valley near Newcastle have demonstrated the influence of local high intensity rainfall events as well as high intensity rainfall in the larger catchment that lead to an abnormally high river level. In January 2005 the road and railway running parallel to the River Tyne near Stocksfield in Northumberland in the UK were affected by ground movement as a result of a slope failure. This caused settlement and distortion of the rail track along with cracking of the tarmac road surface.

Working in collaboration with Network Rail, this PhD project will explore the probability of asset failure due to the influence of both spatial and temporal variability in rainfall and geotechnical properties. An analysis will be undertaken to understand what is required to cause sufficient increases in the groundwater table in exemplar sites to trigger instability. Models will initially be calibrated using monitored weather and river flow data from the Tyne and site investigation and pore pressure data. The joint probability of these events (i.e. rainfall in the catchment causing flooding and rainfall on the sites of interest raising pore pressures) occurring concurrently will then be assessed to understand the risk of instability (re)occurring. This will be carried out using modelling tools developed in the ACHILLES Programme by linking climate to its influence on slope stability. A weather generator developed at Newcastle University will be used to derive future climate data to determine the changing probability of recurrence of both flooding and instability over time due to climate change. The research will produce risk assessments for flooding in the specified catchment along with the changing risk over time to provide stakeholders with quantified assessments of risk.


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Network Rail

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor Stephanie Glendinning (Newcastle University)

Dr Ross Stirling  (Newcastle University)

Simon Abbott (Network Rail)

Eligibility Criteria

First or upper second class degree (2:1) and preferably a MSc in a relevant subject.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8209F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD Water Infrastructure & Resilience (WIRe)‘ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code eng063 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code eng063 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

You should also send your covering letter and CV to [email protected]


[email protected]  or [email protected]





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