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Civil Engineering

School - School of Computing, Science & Engineering

Subject area - Civil Engineering

Start Date(s): September, January, May


MSc by Research (One year full-time or two years part-time)

Master of Philosophy (MPhil; one year full-time or two years part-time)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD; three years full-time or five years part-time)

In Brief:

  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Subject Overview

Research is focussed into four main themes, aligned with the core elements of the civil engineering curriculum: Structural Engineering, Transport Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering and Hydraulics.

Sustainable Water Management Team

You can join the Civil Engineering Research Group, which is known for its internationally recognised research output in built environment and environmental studies comprising more than 135 recent journal papers in wetland systems, sustainable drainage, flood control and water systems analysis. Two books on wetland systems have recently been published with Elsevier and Springer. The development of decision-support tools is one of the key tasks of the group. You will develop novel objective, mathematical and quantitative decision support models to solve practical design, operation and management problems in urban and rural water engineering and management. The key areas of internationally relevant research for you to explore are as follows:

  • Integrated Constructed Wetlands
  • Sustainable Flood Retention Basins to Control Flooding and Diffuse Pollution
  • Sustainable (Urban) Drainage Systems
  • Permeable Pavements Combined with Ground Source Heat Pumps
  • Biofiltration Systems
  • Iron and Manganese Removal within Water Distribution Networks
  • Water Systems and Resources Modelling
  • Unsaturated Soil Modelling

Your key members of staff of the Sustainable Water Management Team are as follows:

  • Prof. Miklas Scholz (water, environment, sustainable drainage and wetlands)
  • Dr Gareth Swift (waste management)
  • Dr Prasad Tumula (water system analysis)
  • Dr Yu Wang (unsaturated soil and modelling)
Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Team

You can undertake research in the following areas:

  • Stability and Assessment of Integral and Masonry Arch Bridges
  • Soil and Structure Interactions
  • Application of Geosynthesis in the Design of Soil Structures
  • Seismic Structural Design
  • Impact and Blast Analysis
  • Dynamic Loading Analysis
  • Steel Design
  • Novel Membrane Systems for Structural Glass

Your key members of the team are listed below:

  • Mr. Neil Currie (tall buildings, light-weight structures and sustainability in construction)
  • Mr. Jonathan Haynes (glass and steel structures)
  • Dr Philip Leach (structures and steel)
  • Dr Gareth Swift (soil/structure interaction and geo-mechanical modelling)
  • Dr Jinyang Wang (structures, masonry and finite element modelling)
  • Dr Laurence Weekes (structures, seismic engineering and finite element modelling)
  • Dr Yu Wang (materials and modelling)
Transportation Team

You can join the following current research activities in the transportation group:

  • Traffic Flow Analysis and Modelling
  • Simulation of Traffic Operations
  • Highway Network Analysis
  • Transport and Regeneration
  • Sustainable Transport Engineering
  • Your key staff members:
  • Mr. Ralph Henson (sustainable travel networks)
  • Dr Saad Yousif (traffic flow modelling)

Entry Requirements

You should have a 1st class or upper second class undergraduate degree. To study for an MPhil or PhD, a Masters degree is preferred but not essential. However, applicants without a Masters degree should provide evidence of previous research methods training.

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal or traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English requirement for non-UK/ EU students

International and EU students must provide evidence of proficiency in English- IELTS 6.0 band score (with no element below 5.5) or above are proof of this.

We offer four standard entry points: October, January, April and July. However, applications can be submitted at any point within the year.

Applicant Profile

You should have a first degree that provides a foundation in the principles of civil engineering and scientific practice. This could include an engineering degree but also environmental sciences and other applied science degrees. Evidence of ability to study and critically appraise literature independently is essential and candidates with Masters qualification are preferred. Experience of experimental and/or modelling-based research is also preferable but is not essential.

As a student embarking on a postgraduate research degree you will be assigned a supervisory team, to help guide and mentor you throughout your time at the University. However, you are ultimately expected to take responsibility for managing your learning and will be expected to initiate discussions, ask for the help that you need and be proactive in your approach to study.

International Students - Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

International Students are required by the Home Office and/or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate before they begin studying their course. You may need to obtain an ATAS Certificate before you come to the UK in order for you to comply with Home Office regulations. Please refer to your offer conditions.

You can find out if your programme requires an ATAS by checking the FCO website at with your JACS code which will be on your offer letter should you choose to make an application. If you cannot find it please contact International Conversion team at If you have any queries relating directly to ATAS please contact the ATAS team on

You can apply for your ATAS Certificate via this link:

Current Student Research

Research Topics

Abdulkadir Sani – 1st year PhD student

Project: Constructed Wetlands Treating Domestic Wastewater

In theory, biological and physical clogging, induced as a result of excessive formation of biomass from degradation of pollutants and retention of inert suspended fine particles, respectively, should result in a decrease of treatment performance. However, some wetlands are not prone to clogging in practice. The aim of this study is therefore to compare the impact of different design (aggregate size) and operational (contact time, empty time and chemical oxygen demand loading) variables on the treatment efficiency and clogging processes. Abdulkadir operates different vertical-flow constructed wetlands. He is not yet observing any serious clogging phenomena impacting negatively on the treatment performance for any wetland column. However, a small aggregate diameter, a short contact time, a long resting time and a low chemical oxygen demand inflow concentration seem to be most beneficial in reducing suspended solids accumulation within the wetland filters. Abdulkadir has just written his first journal paper.

Mohammed Hussaini – 1st year PhD student

Project: Decision-support System for Sustainable Energy Policy and Planning

Proper design of system transitions is a necessity to achieve sustainability of energy infrastructure. However, this design requires new policy, law and corporate strategies. To provide decision support for better policies and strategies, Mohammed focuses on developing a research agenda to enhance the effectiveness of the prescriptive body of knowledge on system transitions to further underscore the concept of transition management. Transitions can be shaped, implying that technical system design is augmented with policy, regulation, and research and development strategies. For effective transition management, an extensive understanding of transitions is necessary. The great challenge for Mohammed is to obtain a basic understanding of the socio-technical design space and the complexity and the uncertainties involved in bringing socio-technical systems or their parts into being. He will study complex systems theory, agent-based modelling, engineering and policy design scenario analysis and statistical data analysis.

Dewi Fitria– 2nd year PhD student

Project: Coagulation and Flocculation

The most significant operational cost in a treatment plant is related to the dewatering and disposal of sludge. Dewi is testing different shapes of mixers (radial, axial, wheel, 3-blades and magnetic) to assess their influence on sludge dewaterability testing. As well as the shape of mixers, different rapid mixing velocities, rapid mixing times and coagulants also have been used as test parameters. She used the capillary suction time test apparatus as a rapid measure to assess sludge dewaterability. Findings indicate that the use of magnetic stirrers leads to the lowest sludge dewaterability properties tested using the capillary suction time. The magnetic stirrer produced greater vortex and turbulence compared with other types of mixers, so rapid contact between the coagulant and the water occurred. The use of the other mixers produced similar results. However, the application of different coagulants results in different results regarding the sludge dewaterability, when using different rapid mixing velocities. Different rapid mixing times did not lead to differences in the capillary suction time.

Mohammed Al-Terawi – 2nd year PhD student

Project: Shuttle-Lane Operations in Urban Road Works

Traffic management using shuttle-lane operations are common features of our road network. Such operations have a considerable impact on reducing roadway capacity, which causes interruptions and impose substantial delays to road users, increasing cost to society with possible reductions in road safety. Despite the importance of this topic, there are relatively few studies that deal with setting uniform design standards for such sites and modelling traffic operations to predict delays and capacity. This study aims to assess the main parameters influencing driver behaviour at the approach to such sites using micro-simulation models developed specifically for this purpose. The results will inform the setting-up of best practice guidelines in traffic management to improve overall performance. Urban road works are mainly needed when providing new.

GTA Student Profiles

Vincent Uzomah – 1st year PhD and GTA student

Project: Sustainable Drainage Systems

Vincent is a General Teaching Assistant who has just started his PhD on sustainable drainage systems in the Greater Manchester region. The Graduate Teaching Assistantship offers a valuable opportunity to study for a PHD as well as gaining teaching experience. Vincent greatly benefits from the combination of research and teaching, considering that his aim is to become a lecturer at the end of his studies.

Training and Skills

You will join a rapidly expanding research community within the Civil Engineering Research Group supported by postgraduate training provided by the School. Research seminars and conferences will be offered to you. All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College's research methods seminars during their first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research.

In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help you develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies, and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.

Assessment Links

As a postgraduate research student at The University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.

Learning Agreement: This is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.

Annual Progress Report: This report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.

Self Evaluation Report: This is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.

Interim Assessment: This is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure that you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a panel comprising three members of the Civil Engineering Research Group. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.

Internal Evaluation: This will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required for you to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work, generally at least four chapters of your thesis.

Research Profile

Research Excellence

The Civil Engineering Research Group comprises at least 12 academics, 12 PhD students and 2 research assistants. The Group brings together a wealth of expertise and international reputation in three focused research groups. The Sustainable Water Management Group analyses and models water systems. The Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Group studies the interface between structures and soils. Traffic modelling activities take place in the Transportation Group.

The key research areas with international visibility are as follows: Wastewater Treatment; Integrated Constructed Wetlands; Sustainable Flood Retention Basins; Sustainable Drainage Systems; Water Resources Modelling; Unsaturated Soil Modelling; Masonry Arch Bridges. This has led to major research projects.

European Union funded research in Sustainable Flood Retention Basins to Control Flooding and Diffuse Pollution. Twenty-two institutions from more than five countries researched adaptive structural flood control measures to address challenges due to climate change.

Moreover, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded a recent project studying the ultimate and permissible limit state behaviour of soil-filled masonry arch bridges. The project volume is £1.2M. Project partners are The University of Sheffield, Network Rail and Balfour Beatty.

Research at the Group is well funded, with support from funding councils, The Royal Society, United Kingdom industry, European Union and United Nations. We have not only the highest qualified academics but also first class facilities to support the leading edge research projects for both postgraduate studies and post-doctoral research. Group members publish papers in high-quality journals and books with leading publishers.

Staff Profiles

Prof. Miklas Scholz, Chair in Civil Engineering, Head of the Civil Engineering Research Group

Prof. Scholz’s overall research interest is in runoff control with a particular passion for solving water quality problems associated with sustainable drainage systems, and flood and diffuse pollution control problems with sustainable flood retention basins. Prof. Scholz currently supervises six PhD students. He has successfully supervised nine PhD students and nine post-doctoral research assistants in the past. His reputation is predominantly based on approximately 130 journal paper publications. Since 2010, he has been a Member of the Committee on Subsurface Drainage (AFS60) of the United States Transportation Research Board (The National Academies). He was awarded a Global Research Award and an Industrial Secondment by The Royal Academy of Engineering and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Prof. Scholz has received research funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, European Union, Teagasc, Monaghan County Council, Glasgow Council, Alderburgh/Atlantis Water Management, Heidelberg/Hanson/Formpave, Marshalls, Triton Electronics and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Prof. Scholz was a co-investigator on the EU INTERREG grant ‘Strategical Alliance for Integrated Water Management Actions’ (£6,450,500), which ended in March 2012.

Dr Saad Yousif

Dr Saad Yousif has worked on major highway projects in Iraq before gaining his PhD in Traffic Engineering from Cardiff University. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in transport studies and the Civil Engineering Course Leader. His main research interests are in modelling traffic behaviour and operations using micro-simulation modelling.

Mr. Ralph Henson

Ralph Henson has been leading the MSc taught course in Transport Engineering and Planning for twenty years and has published research on traffic engineering, traffic safety and sustainable travel networks. He is currently supervising work on residential travel demand and travel plans.


Career Prospects

Students leaving the Civil Engineering Research Group with a postgraduate research degree are well placed to lead and manage research and development activities in a number of areas. This includes consultancy, local authorities, and the construction industries related. Globally, a postgraduate research qualification is usually a prerequisite for an academic career and several of our alumni are now senior academics.

Previous students have taken their research expertise and knowledge into civil engineering practice, innovating in research and development departments and helping to advance knowledge and practice in their professional discipline. Others have gone forward to academic positions or found industry positions. We encourage the maintenance of links between graduating research students and their host research group and supervisor. This means the Group and University can become part of the developing professional network that students take forward into their future careers.

Alumni Profile

The most recent graduates from our PhD programme are Dr Jalal Al-Obaedi and Dr Hamid Al-Jameel who recently returned back to Iraq and are both working in academia. Jalal’s work involved the development of micro-simulation models to study the effect of ramp metering controls using various algorithms, while Hamid’s work was mainly based on analysing a comprehensive set of data in relation to weaving sections at motorway sites. He was also involved in the development of a traffic model.

Links with Industry

The research groups within the Civil Engineering Research Group have extensive industry connections and collaborations; these include The University of Manchester, The University of Sheffield, The University of Edinburgh, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Environment Agency Highways Agency; Yorkshire Water, Network Rail, Balfour Beatty, Lafarge, Costain, Cundall, Murphy Group, GMPTE, Marshalls and Salford City Council. The good links with industry enhance the research activities of postgraduate students, improve the quality and application of research, and form lasting partnerships between students, academics and external partners concerned. The need for industrial collaboration and selection of suitable partners can be discussed directly with research programme leaders and supervisors. Some students may wish to suggest potential new partners based on their existing professional collaborations and networks.

By way of example, the Group has several research projects related to the evaluation of wetland systems. In some cases industry funding is available to support a postgraduate student, or ongoing research activities (by Group staff) can be used to facilitate the work of a new post graduate research student (such as the sharing of data, or formation of new research ideas). In all cases supervisors will advise and manage the relationship with industry partners.


Members of the Civil Engineering Research Group benefit from an excellent Structural and Geotechnical Laboratory and Sustainable Water Management Laboratories.