Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates

July 2022
October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates

July 2022
October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Why choose this programme

Your PhD will be conducted within one of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s world-class research groups. You’ll work to create smart and clean urban environments within the constraints of space and the challenges of ageing infrastructure. 

By sharing resources with other departments across the University, we can support you in pursuing multi-disciplinary and multi-scale research. This spans traditional subject boundaries and enables science-led enquiry to create engineered solutions to industrially relevant problems, both nationally and globally. 

You’ll also benefit from the Department’s excellent track record for graduate employability and the wide range of scholarships offered through its partnerships with leading companies

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

On this programme, your research will address the need for safe and sustainable environments in which we can all live and work. Your research can be about anything covered by one of our four research centres, or within the wider research interests in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

You’ll be assigned two supervisors, who’ll guide you through your PhD and meet with you at least once a month. Your supervisors will be responsible for your progress, professional development and your personal welfare. They’ll also be able to support you with preparing your work for publication and when presenting to research seminars. 

You’ll normally spend the first few months of your studies exploring the existing literature within your area of interest, and establishing the research question you’ll address. After your first year, you’ll take a confirmation exam, and produce a report setting out your research objectives, what you’ve done so far, and a plan for how you’ll complete your final thesis. Your final assessment will be on your written thesis, and by a viva examination with both internal and external examiners. 

As a research student, you’ll be able to attend our regular research seminars, where you can find out more about what your fellow researchers are working on and try your hand at presenting. We encourage our research students to interact with all our research staff throughout their programmes.


Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

Research themes

  • Air pollution
  • Environmental health and engineering
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Infrastructures
  • Smart cities
  • Urban pollution
  • Water, sanitation and public health.

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Research facilities

You’ll be given office space and a computer within the Department, normally with other researchers working on similar or related projects. From here, you’ll be able to carry out computer-based desk studies, and access central supercomputer systems to run simulations or other analytical models. 

If your research involves experimental studies, you’ll be given access to appropriate laboratories along with the support and training to use them. Each laboratory has its own trained technicians, who’ll keep you safe and help you with any problems. 

If your research requires fieldwork outside the office or the lab, your supervisor will work with you to help you carry out your studies safely and practically. 

Some of the laboratories we have on site include: 

  • A structures and materials laboratory, where you can manufacture and assess structural elements, including a mechanical testing suite with static/fatigue capacity from 1N to 1000kN at size scales of 1mm to 5m in tension/compression/flexure 
  • The Surrey Advanced Geotechnical Engineering (SAGE) laboratory, which can characterise soils and soil-structure interactions under controlled environmental conditions 
  • Laboratories within the Centre for Environmental and Health Engineering (CEHE), which include water resources surveillance, modelling and management, water treatment, supply and regulation, wastewater treatment, disposal and safe reuse, and pollution control and waste management. We also have a cryogenic mill and accelerated weathering chamber to enable studies of environmental weathering and degradation of plastics 
  • The Air Quality Lab (AQL), a world-class air quality monitoring facility housing advanced equipment that can measure trace levels of gases and particles, including nano/ultrafine particles 
  • The GeoInformation Laboratory, our research hub for geospatial analysis, remote sensing and geo-simulation. Researchers have dedicated computing resources, including powerful workstations, state-of-the art software and data infrastructure 
  • Wind tunnel facilities for pollution dispersion modelling. 

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


Start date: July 2022


UK £4,500

Overseas £22,700


UK £2,250

Overseas £11,400

Start date: October 2022


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

Start date: January 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

Start date: April 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

For fees payable in 2022/23, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2022 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

How to apply

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.

More information on the application process.

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions
Contact Admissions Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH