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Funded PhD: The University of Manchester, UK

Topic: Model-Assisted Decision-Making for Urban Drainage Infrastructure Management and Investment Planning

Institution: The University of Manchester – School of Mechanical Aerospace & Civil Engineering


Project Title: Model-assisted decision-making for urban drainage infrastructure management and investment planning

Lead Supervisor: Prof. Julien Harou

Co-Supervisor(s): Dr Andrea Bottacin-Busolin

Programme: PhD in Civil Engineering / PhD in Environmental Engineering

Research Theme: Water Engineering


We are inviting applications for a fully funded PhD studentship to work on the development of an approach and associated computer codes to guide the investment in drainage systems. This will involve both the simulation and optimisation of urban drainage systems and the ability to interface with decision-makers in this area. In partnership with Thames Water Utilities Ltd in the framework of a MACE-Beacons award, the successful candidate will develop a model-assisted approach to economically manage urban runoff via a more efficient operation of existing drainage infrastructure, and to identify opportunities for efficient and flexible capacity expansion. This work has high potential to realize significant industrial impact given the increasing pressure on urban drainage infrastructure and the uncertainties created by climate change in the UK and world-wide.

The project will seek to develop a computationally efficient hydraulic simulation model for urban drainage systems, and to couple this model with search algorithms to derive optimal design and operational solutions according to a range of technical, economic, and social goals. Subsequently, a robust optimisation approach will be developed to consider the uncertainty in future demand and system performance. Initially, the project will focus on the portfolio design problem, seeking to identify optimal investment options and operational solutions given the current demand forecast and the associated uncertainty, and subsequently on the more complex dynamic problem of deriving the best sequence of investments over time.

The successful candidate is not expected to have already obtained experience in both hydraulic modelling and optimisation, but knowledge should be demonstrable in one of these areas, with in-house training available to compensate where needed. Good programming and math skills are essential to carry out the proposed work.

Interested candidates are encouraged to contact us with any questions regarding this project. We particularly welcome female applicants and those from an ethnic minority, as they are under-represented within our post-graduate student population at present.

Skills required:

Entry requirements can be found by selecting the relevant PhD programme at this link:

Good programming skills and experience with object-oriented programming in Matlab and/or Python. Knowledge of hydraulics and optimization techniques is desirable.

Industrial Links:

The studentship is co-funded by Thames Water within the MACE Beacon Scholarship scheme. Funding covers stipend and full tuition fees for home/EU students. Overseas students will need to identify additional funding to cover the difference in fees.

Information on standard fees is available here:

Information on typical stipend is available here:

Closing date for applications: 30 September 2017

Project specific enquiries:

General enquiries:

General enquiries relating to the postgraduate application process within the School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering should be directed to:

  • Martin Lockey – Senior PG Recruitment & Admissions Administrator
    Tel: +44(0)161 275 4345

Further information about how to apply can be found at:

Get Application Form here

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