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The Construction IT Research Centre (CITRC)


School - School of the Built Environment

Subject area - Construction

Start Date(s): September, January, May


Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
One year full-time

Two years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Three years full-time

Three years online Doctoral full-time

Five years split-site

Five years part-time

Professional Doctorate in the Built Environment (DBEnv)
Five years part-time


In Brief:

  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Subject Overview

The Construction IT Research Centre (CITRC) has been at the forefront of Construction IT research and development for the past 15 years and has made significant contributions in the field of communication, visualisation, integration, and intelligent systems with specific focus on construction performance. In the main, this has culminated in the realisation of process protocols, product models, knowledge-based systems and numerous integrated computing environments which seek to integrate and support the multiple perspectives of the multitude of disciplines which characterise the construction industry.  The Centre also managed to direct its pursuit towards a more coherent approach to research, focusing on two main complementary research themes; Virtual Prototyping and Organisational Maturity, with the focus on interfacing and visualisation, integration and simulation, and other technologies including semantic web, intelligent agents and standards. The latter field addresses capability improvement to embrace new technologies, organisational learning and information management. Since its establishment, they have had numerous numbers of industry and academic collaborators noted nationally and internationally in recognition of research excellence.  

Currently, the Centre recognises the government priority areas which address the need for buildings that are more adaptable to our rapidly changing social needs, and the growing market for low-impact new build and retrofit, and therefore looks to promote solutions for improving products, services and processes of construction industry by fostering innovation and better exploitation of ICT at all levels. The Centre consists of academics actively engaging in funded projects, PhD supervision, leading on workshops and events, producing publications and engaging with the industry. These activities reflect the core competencies of the members as well as being instrumental in developing new competencies within the Centre. These include, but are not limited to, research in Virtual Environments consisting of CAD/CAM, GIS, Virtual and Augmented Reality, nD Modelling, Virtual Prototyping and generic visualisation techniques, Future Spaces, Modelling and Simulation, Building Information Modelling, Advanced Computer Graphics, Presence and Mixed Reality Environments, Real-time Virtual Agents, and Virtual Prototyping. These are supported by independent and integrated research works in the application of AI techniques such as rule-based reasoning, case-based reasoning, fuzzy logic, neural networks, genetic algorithms, and multi-agent systems. The technology-driven research covers mobile, intelligent, interactive, exploratory, collaborative, pervasive and user-centric areas. These include, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Sensors and Wireless Sensor Networks, Mobile Wireless Computing IFC implementation, standardisation, Integrated environments, eGovernment, e-Learning, eHealth, eSafety, eCulture. eInclusion, Collaborative Working Environments, and ICT for Environmental Risk Management. These competencies are underpinned by the following themes;  

  • Sustainable Built Environment Regeneration
  • Autonomous Construction Sites
  • Autonomous Built Environments
  • nD-Modelling and Building Information Modelling
  • Digital Manufactured Building Modelling
  • Collaborative Supply Networks
  • E-Readiness of Organisations
  • Future Workspaces
  • Learning Technologies
  • Socio-economic research that contributes to technology development and utilisation.  

Entry Requirements

Entry is possible with a First Class or Upper Second Class undergraduate degree. Applicants with a Lower Second Class undergraduate degree must also have a Master’s degree.

For the DBEnv programme membership of a professional body is required, as well as 3 years of work experience in a relevant profession.

For the On-line Doctoral Programme a Master’s degree is essential.

English requirement for non-UK students

Overall IELTS score of at least 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any one element.

For the full and part time PhD and MPhil programmes we offer four entry points: October, January, April and July. For the DBEnv there is one entry point in October. For the Online Doctoral PhD there are three entry points: October, January and July. Applications can be submitted at any point within the year.

Applicant Profile

The Construction IT Research Centre welcomes applicants who come from strong IT and/or Construction background with a good understanding of the nature of the Built Environment Discipline and the important role that Information Technology plays to the multifaceted aspects of the construction industry in relation to the Built and Human Environment. Such understanding could be underpinned by knowledge of system, process, policies and people that can have a direct or indirect impact on the Built Environment. The Centre also welcomes applicants from multidisciplinary backgrounds (built environment, sociology, engineering, financial management, business continuity) and wish to study the various challenges that face the construction industry, amongst other industries.  

The Centre is therefore looking for applicants with interesting and timely research proposals that intend to tackle challenging research problems (nationally and internationally) and promote relevant solutions to take the Built Environment Discipline forward.  Candidates would therefore be expected to have the ability to critically evaluate and synthesise literature, have an analytical approach to problem solving, and depending on the nature of the research, to have the relevant IT skills in order to develop proposed systems or platforms.  

Our postgraduate researchers come from different professional backgrounds. Some are academics who wish to obtain a PhD for further career development, some are industrialists looking to explore an existing problem within their organisation, and others are individuals with a long term ambition to engage in a postgraduate research degree.    

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

Final Year PhD student - Matthew Bacon (RIBA, FRSA)

Research Topic - Engineering low carbon hospitals, using an integrated decision support methodology.

Brief description of research - To understand why UK hospitals are performing so badly from a low carbon perspective. Commentators on this situation advocate that a fundamentally new approach to hospital design is required. They state that this will require innovation and a much better understanding of building science.  

The research is focusing on the factors that lead to poor performance and developing a radical new approach to low carbon hospital design. A case study project is underway on a £420 million hospital where the researcher is leading the low carbon strategy.  

The researcher has developed a new building science called ‘Occupancy Analytics’ and the work has produced significant results that challenge the conventional basis of hospital design.  Occupancy Analytics is a sophisticated database that models the whole hospital function.   

The hypothesis is that if the processes (working practices) and the associated resources used in a hospital can be modelled, it would then be possible to understand the drivers for energy consumption and the associated carbon emissions. This would require working practices to be correlated to energy consumption and associated carbon emissions, another key focus of the research.  

The hypothesis states that this would provide a powerful means to reduce carbon emissions and engineer a low carbon hospital.  It should also enable hospital staff to make informed decisions concerning their working practices and to modify these to both achieve desired clinical outcomes and low carbon performance.  

Student - Mark Bew  

Year of study - Writing up  

Programme mode - Part-time  

Research topic – Engineering Better Social Outcomes through Requirements Management and Integrated Asset Data Processing  

Summary of research

Leaders in the public and private sectors now realise that the approach to development currently being pursued by society is not sustainable in the long term. The social problems arising from this lack of sustainability are becoming obvious and creating concern in the mind of the public at large. Federation Internationale des Ingenieurs-Conseils (FIDIC 2011), Key Concepts for Project Sustainability Management Second Edition 2011 quotes “we need to respond in many ways to make better use of our finite resources and to deliver the best possible opportunities for our population to lead fulfilling useful lives”.  

If successfully applied, an integrated approach to social and human aspects can ensure the welfare of end users can be dramatically enhanced. Best practice supports the acceptance and adoption of the asset by ensuring end users’ expectations and perceptions are met. Experience from schemes that have failed to address these issues are characterised by failure to plan, manage, design, integrate and execute with designers and stakeholders.

The Government’s stated objective in the Construction Strategy (2011) was to deliver a national infrastructure to service public consumers. The impact of national infrastructure failing to perform has gross implications on society and our ability to perform basic day to day tasks as well as to maintain a competitive national economy. As technology develops and matures and finite resources diminish, our historic approach needs to evolve. The digital revolution has come at a very timely moment in history coinciding with growing awareness of our impact on the planet, realisation that our continued use of finite resources will have consequences, and the impact of those consequences on society.  

The awareness of sustainability has increased rapidly in the last decade. This research will utilise the definition provided by BS EN 15643-3:2012, which offers sustainability as the “ability of a system to be maintained for the present and future generations”, in the context of “environmental, social and economic aspects”. We are familiar with the cost and environmental elements of this all-encompassing subject and much progress has been made in the sector to formalise methods and measurements, but have these started to deliver improvements? The evidence regarding carbon according to the RAE (2010) is at best unreliable, due in the main to poor data quality or inconsistent or incomplete processes. The third and less well publicised element of sustainability is the impact that the built assets have on society and the perceived impact upon use. It is upon this subject this research will focus.  

The research area this work seeks to address is “To demonstrate that Social Outcomes can be materially influenced by better processing of data attributes describing a built asset or composite data sets making up interdependent portfolios.”  

Student name - Anoop Sattineni  

Year of study - 4  

Programme mode – Online Doctoral Porgramme  

Research topic – A Decision Support Framework for Site Safety Monitoring using RFID and BIM  

Summary of research

The aim of this research is to create a decision support framework to track the movement of construction workers in a virtual environment using the 3D capabilities of a BIM and the tracking capabilities of RFID technology. It is expected that this framework will help construction superintendents monitor the movement of construction workers within the job site in an effort to maintain the health and safety of everyone present.  Qualitative semi-structured interviews with construction superintendents were used to create the framework which was validated through a survey of construction industry professionals. A virtual prototype for tracking construction workers was created to demonstrate the viability of the proposed framework.

Training and Skills

All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the research methods seminars 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 develop their research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for their university studies and for their future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.

Assessment Links

Completion of the Learning Agreement

The Learning Agreement will be the focus of your first two supervision sessions and must be completed and submitted within the first 3 months of your candidature. This is not a static document and should be reviewed regularly and updated annually with your supervisor.  

Annual Progress Report (APR)

Supervisors complete this annual report on each of the students they supervise. They provide a summary of progress to date, any issues arising, research training requirements, and overall position of the student in the lifecycle. As with the self-evaluation report, the APR is compulsory and utilised by the College PG Research Team to note any issues. More detailed information can be found at:

Self Evaluation Report

This report enables you to reflect upon your progress on an annual basis, as well as reporting on supervisory and facilities arrangements. The report goes to the College PG Research Team who will note any issues arising from the evaluation so that they can addressed in an appropriate way.

Completion of the Self Evaluation is compulsory.

It is important for students to reflect on a regular basis on their own progress, as it gives the opportunity to ‘stand back’ from the detail of the doctoral research and assess the extent to which this is progressing in a coherent and focused manner. In comparing actual progress with the predicted progress set out in the Learning Agreement, you can provide a considered statement of how and where the research is going, and identify any problem areas, potential or actual.

Equally, the Self-Evaluation Report is an opportunity to comment upon supervisory support and Research Centre facilities. It is important that students provide an honest appraisal in order for us to be in a position to respond to any issues and to continually review and enhance the student experience. More detailed information can be found at:

Interim Assessment

The interim assessment is the first formal point along the MPhil/PhD and DProf (research component) programmes where the progression of the student is assessed by independent experts and a decision is made as to whether the student should continue or transfer their studies to a higher or lower award.

The interim assessment takes place between months 9 and 11 for full-time students, months 15 and 20 if you are part-time; and months 11 to 13 if you are on split sites. This time frame ensures that should you need to repeat your assessment, you have time to do so before your deadline for registration for the following year.  

For students registered on the MPhil programme the interim assessment provides an opportunity to transfer to the higher award PhD programme. For existing PhD/DProf students the assessment determines whether students continue on the PhD/DProf programme or are recommended to be transferred to a lower award.

As a PGR student, you will be required to present a short paper about your research project describing your progress and plans for the future. You will also have the option of attending an oral examination. A Guide to Interim Assessment and the documentation you require can be found at  

Internal Evaluation

The Internal Evaluation is the second formal point along the PhD and DProf (research component) programmes where the progression of the student is assessed by independent experts and a decision is made as to whether the student should continue on their programme or transfer to a programme with a lower award (MPhil).

Your Internal Evaluation (IE) will take place between months 21 and 23 of your candidature if you are a full-time student; months 35 and 40 if you are part-time; and months 24 to 26 if you are on split sites. This time frame ensures you are able to repeat your evaluation, should it be required, before your deadline for registration for the following year.

The evaluation of a student’s progress is important at this juncture to determine whether the student has developed their research to a sufficient standard that will lead to a PhD/DProf award. Where progress is sub-standard (and would not achieve the level of the higher PhD or lower MPhil award) the Internal Evaluation panel have the authority to recommend termination of a student’s candidature. A Guide to Internal Evaluation and the documentation you require can be found at

Research Profile

Research Excellence

The University of Salford’s Built Environment Research Institute is the only UK Built Environment School ranked 6* at the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2001 and 1996. In the 2008 RAE Salford's research in the fields of Architecture and the Built Environment was rated as the best in the UK and finished top in Research Fortnight's 'Research Power' table for Built Environment. Its Built Environment Research Institute has over 110 research-active academic staff, and considerable experience of large research projects: between 1996 and 2009, it completed over £60M of funded research including major EU research projects and networks. The Construction IT Research Centre has more than 45 postgraduate researchers who come from different parts of the world such as the UK, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Denmark, South Africa, China, Malaysia, Italy, Ukraine.  We also offer the opportunity for visiting research fellows to join us for limited periods of time.

The core activity of the Construction IT Research Centre is to promote Information Technology solutions in order to directly or indirectly improve systems and processes that influence the Built Environment. The Centre has played an important role over the years to influence the process protocols adapted by the construction industry and has continued to play a role in influencing government policies in relation to the integration and utilisation of IT solutions. Building Information Modelling is the most recent example of such activities.  

Please see our member’s profile page which reflects their leading role and expertise they bring to the Centre, either through their chief editorial roles, or membership of executive task groups. 

Staff Profiles

Professor Terrence Fernando

Is the Director of the ThinkLab and an expert in delivering integrated computing environments that combine product models, simulation and visualisation technologies to support communication and collaboration among stakeholders involved in developing sustainable buildings and cities.  His publications focus on collaboration platforms for distributed teams involved in developing sustainable buildings by building on a sound  theoretical framework, system architecture frameworks and practical examples from industry, presenting a novel collaboration platform that utilise the power of modelling, simulation and visualisation. He is also an expert in developing collaboration platforms for stakeholders who are engaged in developing sustainable cities, by taking two real-world examples (Better Life Chances programme in Salford and Urban Regeneration in Black Country), and exploring the nature of a Unified Information Modelling Framework for representing cities as well as collaboration platform for multi-agencies to work together to develop sustainable cities, and capture in publication.      

Professor Mustafa Alshawi

Professor Alshawi is a Professor of Management and IT in Construction and an Associate Dean at the College of Science and Technology, University of Salford (previously the Director of Build and Human Environment Research Institute). He holds many international advisory posts in various countries and is a consultant on a number of projects for the World Bank, UN Agencies and OECD. He is the Chairman of the Iraqi Institute for Economic Reform, the number one think-tank in Iraq. He is also the Editor in Chief of the international journal of “Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management”, published by Emerald, and the author of over a hundred publications in fields including integrated computer environments, databases, object-oriented databases, IT strategies, CAD, planning automation and IS success factors. He has published a book Rethinking IT in Construction and Engineering: Organisational Readiness to provide a holistic view on the readiness of organisations to successfully embrace IT into their work practices. Professor Alshawi is the founder of five innovative postgraduate courses in IT and Construction Management, ranging from PG Diploma, MSc, Master of Research and PhD (without residence). He has managed a number of large research projects over his research career. His leading work in management of information in collaborative environments, integrated databases in construction and computer integration is internationally known.

Professor Vian Ahmed

Is the Director of Centre for Construction IT, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies at the School of the Built Environment and the Director of the On-line Doctoral Programme (Previously known as the MERIT programme). Her research interests are in e-learning, ICT, visualisation and mobile technologies. She recently gained the status of Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her leading role in the field of Learning Technologies. She is a member of a number of scientific committees for high profile technology led journals in construction, and has led a number of workshops that brought together expertise on semantic-web technologies, learning technologies and the use of ICT in construction. She has also produced a number of guest editorials in the field of ICT. She has supervised at least 15 successful PhDs with over 100 journal and conference publications.  

Jason Underwood

He has over ten years research experience in the area of construction ICT including concurrent engineering, integrated and collaborative computing in construction, product and Building Information Modelling and e-readiness. This has contributed to the work of the Research Centre which in turn has made a significant contribution to the REF Impact Case Study “Integrated and Collaborative Approach to Lifecycle Management in the Built Environment” This affected the concept and development of an integrated approach to improved efficiency in the construction sector that has impacted on the UK Government Building Information Modelling and Management (BIM(M)) Strategy launched in 2011. His engagement in the area of BIM continues in terms of research, teaching and enterprise for which he is committed to ensuring there is a transfer of knowledge across all three. From a teaching perspective he is the Programme Director for the MSc. BIM and Integrated Design programme which has increased from 20+ students to over 120 since its launch in 2011. In particular, the programme combines the theoretical learning enriched by state-of-the-art research together with industrial/government involvement to provide leading edge application to inform our research. Jason is also the Director of Construct IT (industry-led network) and involved in the delivery of organising networking events in collaboration with external organisations and universities that bring together industry, government and academia in the knowledge transfer of state-of-the-art current trends. At a national level he is a member of the Education and Training work stream of the BIM Taskgroup supporting the delivery of the UK Government BIM Strategy. This is alongside his role as the current chair of the BIM Academic Forum, as formed by representatives from a number of UK universities coming together to create a dynamic collaborative group to enhance and promote the teaching and learning (T&L) and research aspects of BIM. To further support the Education and Training aspect of the Government BIM Strategy he is involved in the development and delivery of BIM CPD as informed through both research and enterprise activities. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of 3D Information Modelling (IJ3DIM) which is not only the first journal to be specifically focused on BIM, but also covers issues associated with 3D GIS and their integration.

Dr Yusuf Arayici

is a Reader and has been involved in a number of research and enterprise projects. These include the EU funded DIVERCITY (Distributed Virtual Workspace for enhancing Communication and Collaboration) Project, the EU funded INTELCITIES (Intelligent Sustainable Cities) Project, which was exhibited in EPSRC’s engineering showcase in 2005, the ERDF funded VEPS (Virtual Environmental Planning System) Project, the EPSRC funded SUREGEN (Integrated Decision Support System for Sustainable Urban Regeneration) project, and as a knowledge based supervisor in the KTP project of Building Information Modelling (BIM) adoption to John McCall Architects (JMA), Liverpool. Dr Arayici has engaged with enterprise activities with ITV for Waterloo Battlefield modelling, St Fagan’s Museum and CADW (Welsh Heritage) for heritage building modelling. He is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College, graduated 4 PhD students and supervises 10 PhDs currently and has published over 60 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings. Currently he undertakes research in the energy domain covering issues such as i) impact of retrofitting on dweller’s productivity, assessing retrofitting alternatives, ii) a geospatial decision support model for smart grid implementation, iii) developing soap-based thermal insulation materials. He is involved in the new EU funded Design4Energy (5.5M Euro) project.    

Mark Alston

is an Architect by background, a lecturer in Architecture and academic member of staff at SoBE and is currently doing a PhD in Bio-Molecular computation in the advance of architectural design.



Career Prospects

Many of our postgraduate researchers are either self-funded or sponsored through various UK or overseas industrialists, government organisations or academic organisations with an interest in the Built Environment. Whether you are a sponsored or self-funded candidate, a postgraduate research degree will open up many career opportunities for you whether in industry or academia.  You will gain a set of transferrable skills that help you develop an analytical approach towards problem solving, project management and organisation, research and information management, self-management and work habits, written and oral communication. You will also develop specific skills which evolve from your selected research theme/topic. These skills could be related to a social science approach to evaluating existing processes and IT systems in an attempt to propose new solutions, or through developing ICT solutions to improve processes in direct or indirect relation to the Built Environment. 

Alumni Profile

Name:  Khaled A. Hussein

Research Topic:         Leveraging the usage of Social Computing tools in the Higher Education institutions in the Gulf States to enhance the teaching and learning processes.  

Research description:  The concept of social computing will remain an emerging topic for a long time, and organisations can take more risks to identify the best methods of implementing its characteristics which will give them the highest competitive advantage (Pascu, 2008).

As one of the critical businesses for any country, Higher Education should be leveraged with the tools that help maximise its generated value. Especially in the Gulf States, there are many challenges which confront the teachers and students in the university level making it harder to achieve higher learning and teaching goals. These challenges and how Social Computing Tools can provide a proper solution for them are discussed in this research which aims to develop and propose a framework for effective implementation of the Social Computing Tools in Higher Education in order to enhance the teaching and learning experiences in the Gulf States’ institutions. Khalid says

“Without doubt, the Research School has supported me significantly during my research to date. They communicate about all research related-issues such as news, training and conferences. They were very supportive during my trip to Salford for the Interim Assessment. Proper orientation has been provided with clear vision of the exact expectations of the assessment. My Supervisors answer all my questions in a timely fashion, give supportive advice, keep me informed with opportunities for publications, and motivate with positive feedback. I really appreciate their support which gave me a taste for scientific research.

Links with Industry

All of our researchers at some point of their study will be engaged with either an academic institution or the industry (or both) during their research journey, in order to gather data, evaluate or validate processes/systems/approaches they have developed. In doing so, the Construction IT Research Centre has worked over the years with many industry partners and organisations.