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PhD in Structural Integrity
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Structural Integrity PhD

Course Structure / Overview

During the three-year PhD programme, students will design and carry out original experiments guided by the laboratory manager or TWI industrial supervisor. Additionally the programme will include high-quality training and support to provide a strong foundation for future careers in structural integrity.

Each PhD topic will be linked to the most appropriate university partner to maximise the benefits and outcome of the research. 

NSIRC students will spend much of their time in the laboratories carrying out experimental research with plenty of opportunity to participate in training on presenting and writing-up their research as well as specialised technical training and workshops.

Students may have the opportunity to attend or present at conferences which are directly relevant to their research work, if agreed by their TWI industrial supervisor.

Who is the programme designed for?

The programme is aimed at recent graduates, as well as plant engineers and inspection engineers who are currently working in the oil and gas, power generation, petrochemical, nuclear and transportation sectors.

The overall objective is to produce high-quality researchers and scientists with an in-depth knowledge of the science and technology of structural integrity and inspection, including: numerical modelling, advanced NDT methods, such as phased array ultrasonic inspection, fracture mechanics, risk based inspection (RBI), quality assurance, reliability engineering and risk management. Application of theory will be consolidated through research projects.

Course Aims

The PhD programme aims to advance the skills and contribution of engineers involved in structural integrity by equipping them with enhanced research knowledge and experience. With in-depth knowledge of the theory and practice of structural integrity, including state-of-the art methodologies and techniques, PhD graduates will be empowered to contribute to the field in new and innovative ways.

Learning Outcomes

When you complete the NSIRC PhD programme, you will graduate as an industry-ready, world-class engineer or scientist in structural integrity. This could cover various disciplines such as fail-safe design, corrosion control, structural health monitoring, ageing asset management and fitness for service.

  • Contribute to research related to damaged structures

  • Find solutions, through research, to target structural integrity issues by utilising appropriate NDT techniques

  • Develop inspection and maintenance plans

Support & Guidance

Students will have access to a comprehensive support network. They will be guided through the various stages of the programme by their supervisors who will ensure they remain on track to achieve their qualification. Postdocs and TWI Project Leaders will be on hand in the lab to help with training on specific techniques and to advise on the results and direction of the research.

Career Development

The PhD in Structural Integrity will provide the required advanced theoretical knowledge and essential practical skills for graduates to contribute to the field of structural integrity through development of new concepts and methods. The degree will provide the platform for rewarding careers in the oil and gas, power generation, petrochemical, nuclear and transportation sectors and is accredited by The Welding Institute as further learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Students working on projects in the field of non-destructive testing will also be able to acquire membership of BINDT (the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing).


The programme will make use of the newly established NSIRC facilities based in Cambridge. A proportion of the research activities may take place out in the field (external sites) including industrial client sites depending on the details of the particular project. However, students will be based at NSIRC at least 90 percent of the time, where they will still be able to take advantage of their partner university resources such as the virtual learning environment, library and academic support.

Click here for directions to NSIRC

Research Summary

The research will focus on the knowledge and skills most relevant to a career in technical and engineering roles in which understanding and achieving structural integrity is a key element. All research topics will be directly linked with the needs of industry.


Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website and NSIRC will take all reasonable action to deliver these services in accordance with the descriptions given. However, we reserve the right to vary these services, using all reasonable efforts to offer a suitable alternative. All costs, rates and prices stated are subject to amendment and should be taken as a guide only.

Students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with our summary of terms before accepting a place.

Course Content

The research will focus on the knowledge and skills most relevant to a career in technical and engineering roles where understanding and achieving structural integrity is a key element. All research topics will be directly linked with the needs of industry.

Research areas will cover (but are not limited to):

  • Process Capability Study for Friction Stir Spot Welding (FSSW) - Benchmarking the Process Variants

  • A combination of fracture mechanics and elasto-dynamics for damage detection in wind turbine rotating structures using BEM analysis

  • Online remote condition monitoring using statistical analysis based on a small number of experimental results using AE and vibration analysis

  • Development of vibration based condition monitoring for the assessment of damage in pipeline

  • Development of OMA technique for Integrated condition monitoring of structures and machineries

  • Joining dissimilar materials for future automotive structures - Developing new resistance welding technologies to create high integrity multi-material joints

  • Tailored Energy Distribution for Laser Beam Processing

  • Laser processing of Fibre Reinforced Plastic Composites

  • Effect of biaxility on the fracture & plastic collapse behaviour of pipeline girth welds


Entry Requirements

Candidates should have at least a 2:1 grade or equivalent overseas degree in a relevant engineering subject such as Mechanical Engineering, Civil/Structural Engineering, Material Science, Metallurgy or Physics. Candidates with relevant work experience and strong capability in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply.

Overseas applicants should have the minimum level of English Language qualification:

IELTS min 6.5 for PhD
TOEFL paper test: 550 (TWE 4)
TOEFL internet test: 79
(R18, L17, S20, W17)
Pearson: 51 (51 in all subscores)
BrunELT: 60% (min 55% in all areas)


3-4 years full-time programme


Prices vary depending on location please contact us for more information.


A number of fully funded PhD scholarships are available for suitable candidates with a strong interest in fundamental and applied research in the area of structural integrity.

For home students, a £24k per annum scholarship is available  which will cover tuition fees and provide a competitive enhanced stipend of £16-20kper annum for the duration of three years. Partial scholarships are provided for international students with funding up to £24k per annum for three years.

Scholarships will be considered as part of the PhD application process - there is no need to apply separately.

Application Form

Course applications can be made by completing our Application Form and returning it to enquiries@nsirc.co.uk

All applications need to be supported by two references, one of which must be an academic reference. The references can be uploaded by your referee, sent via email, fax or by post (headed paper should be used).

Except in the case of UK and EU Brunel graduates, applications must be accompanied by documentary proof of the qualifications held (including those showing English language proficiency for those whose first language is not English). International applicants will still need to provide their certificates when applying.

Applications should be submitted as early as possible:

  • No later than 3 weeks before the start of the programme of study for UK and EU students
  • At least 3 months in advance for international students