Department of Engineering and Design

PhD Scholarships

School of Engineering and Informatics, PhD Scholarships

The funding round is currently closed. To find individual opportunities as they come up seach the University Funding Database. Examples of previous projects are available below to give you a flavour of what to expect.

When applying for a PhD Scholarship applicants may choose to apply with their own research proposal or apply under a topic specific project proposed by a member of the department's faculty. Projects proposed by applicants must fit within the areas of research in the School; applicants with interests that span both Departments within the School are particularly welcome.

Research groups in Engineering, Design, and Informatics

The research groups in the Department of Engineering and Design are:

  • Dynamics, Control and Vehicle Research Group
  • Industrial Informatics and Signal Processing Research Group
  • Sensor Technology Research Centre
  • Thermo-Fluid Mechanics Research Centre
  • Creative Technology

The research groups in the Department of Informatics are:

  • Cognitive and Language Processing Group (Data Science)
  • Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems
  • Foundations of Software Systems
  • Creative Technology (formerly Interactive Systems)

For further details see the research web pages for the respective Departments:

Type of award and award amount

The amount of the award can vary depending on who funds the award:

School funded Scholarships normally include a three year stipend at a standard rate (currently £14,057 per annum) and, in addition, fees as follows: (a) for Home/EU applicants, full fees; (b) overseas applicants, a contribution of up to £12,000 towards overseas fees, depending on qualifications.

EPSRC funded Scholarships normally include a three and a half year stipend at a standard rate (currently £14,057 per annum) plus a fee waiver to the UK/EU amount for 3.5 years. Due to funding restrictions, the EPSRC scholarship is open to UK and EU resident students only. Not all EU students may be eligible. Before applying, EU students should check the EPSRC eligibility criteria here:

For further information on Univesrity fees visit:


Applicants should have at least a good 2:1 bachelors degree (or equivalent) relevant to their area of study.

For further information on entry requirements visit:

Application procedure

Applicants must make an online application for a PhD place and state clearly on the form that they wish to apply for a School Scholarship:

Applicants for topic-specific Scholarship projects (see projects below) must include a file with a statement that explains their particular interest, knowledge and skills in relation to the chosen project. The filename should follow the format 'surname_personal_statement'.

Applicants submitting their own Scholarship project proposal should read the advice about finding a potential supervisor and how to write a proposal on these web pages: 

The closing date for applications has been extended to: 18/01/2016

Contact details 

For general information about the Department visit:

Or for enquires via email contact:

Applying with your own research proposal

If you choose to apply with your own research proposal visit our applying webpages which cover how to write your research proposal and how to identify, and contact, potential supervisors. When you are ready to apply follow the procedure as detailed above.

Applying for a topic specfic project

You will find summaries of the topic specific projects listed below along with contact details for the project supervisor so that you may request full details of the project, or discuss the project further. When you are ready to apply follow the procedure as detailed above.

You may only apply for one of these projects:

Spectrally Efficient Multiple Access Techniques for 5G Mobile Communications
Project Supervisor: Dr Falah H Ali

Second Supervisor: Dr Zhengguo Sheng


The avalanche of traffic volume and the massive growth of connected devices together with the wide range of use cases and requirements are key challenges for the next generation (5G) of mobile and wireless communication systems which are expected to be deployed by 2020 and beyond. There are huge requirements on the system capacity, data rate, latency and energy saving. The design of radio access technology is crucial in improving system capacity in cost-effective manner. The impressive increase in spectral efficiency that has been realized in recent years still fails to satisfy the demands of 5G systems.

This project focuses on the multiple access layer to investigate new techniques for significantly enhancing the spectral efficiency and capacity. Specifically, it is proposed to investigate non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA) schemes and spatially multiplex many users using the same time and frequency resources. This is fundamentally different from the current 4G systems in which users are allocated exclusive communication resources employing orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) techniques.

The research project objectives are

1) To investigate high capacity NOMA techniques for next generation systems.

2) To design and integrate advanced superposition coding and multi-antenna systems.

3) To examine low complexity multiuser detection and channel estimation methods.

4) To develop a testbed platform for system simulations and performance analysis.

This project addresses fundamental issues relating to the proposed techniques from information theory to practical design and implementation aspects. Two PhD theses have been completed successfully on related works within the communications research group at Sussex, and this project is planned to make use of the results obtained and the findings in the state-of-the-art literature. It is expected to utilize the latest studies of the 3GPP standardization body and produce high quality research work of significant impacts towards 5G systems.

Ultra-Wideband Sensing and Imaging in Medical Applications
Project Supervisor: Dr Falah H Ali

Ultra-Wideband (UWB) is a high-bandwidth wireless technology widely used in various applications such as high-data rate and short-range communications, tracking, and radar imaging. UWB has a number of attractive features including low radiation, penetrating through obstacles, and high precision which makes it attractive in emerging medical applications.

In this project we focus on the application of UWB as a sensing and imaging technology for breast cancer detection. We exploit the significant contrast between malignant tumours and normal breast tissue at microwave frequencies to identify the presence and location of tumours. We have made substantial research progress by the recent PhD research student, and the proposed project is planned to continue the research to address key challenges and take it to the next stage of computational implementation and testing. 

The project objectives are to

1) Examine advanced sensing and image reconstruction algorithms in artefact and clutter environment.

2) Investigate robustness in heterogeneous propagation channels.

3) Study antenna array and configurations in realistic scenarios.

4) Develop a computational test-bed platform.

The aim of the project is to develop a non-invasive and non-ionizing UWB sensor and imaging for early-stage breast cancer detection. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among females, and one of the leading causes of death in both developed and developing nations. The presented UWB system can serve as a complementary or alternative to X-ray mammography, with attractive merits such as earlier identification of malignant tumours, improved sensitivity and specificity, and potentially low cost.  Derivative products can offer great flexibility, which is cost and time saving for both cancer sufferers and medical system, thereby potentially saving millions of lives. 

Flexible Electronics: Innovative New Sensors and Fabrication Technologies
Project Supervisor: Dr Niko Münzenrieder

Second supervisor: Prof Robert Prance

Funding Note: This project is EPSRC funded. Please see the above 'Type of award and award amount' section for further details.


In the last 50 years the semiconductor industry developed astonishing technologies to fabricate billions of electronic devices on semiconductor chips not larger than a few square centimetres. These standard silicon technologies lead to high performance systems, but also exhibits two major drawbacks. On the one hand side, huge investments into fabrication facilities and equipment are required to fabricate state-of-the-art silicon chips, which makes the manufacturing process costly and inflexible. At the same time, new applications like wearables call for electronics, unobtrusively integrated into our daily environment. Here, the attachment of rigid electronics to deformable everyday objects restricts the bendability, is contrary to our aesthetic demands, and causes problems with the localization of strain. A promising solution to both problems is the development of deformable electronic devices on large-area substrates using oxide semiconductors. This project offers the possibility to work on different aspects of flexible electronics, in particular the following topics are of interest:

  • The fabrication of electric potential sensors on flexible plastic substrates. The capacitively coupled electric potential sensor technology developed at the Sensor Technology Research Centre enables the measurement of medically relevant data such as ECG or EMG. A combination of this sensor technology with flexible thin-film technology would lead to lightweight, bendable, stretchable or even invisible sensors on large area substrates which will enable soft and bio-compatible sensor systems, and artificial sensory skins for unobtrusive long term monitoring of physiological signals.
  • The fast and easy fabrication of field effect transistors, and circuits without the need for expensive equipment. Here, an alternative fabrication technology is developed by combining thin-film manufacturing, innovative materials such as oxide semiconductors, and cheap, deformable glass, polymers or paper substrates. The resulting tool kit, will enable rapid prototyping of electronics, disposable flexible devices, and customized integrated circuits.

Applicants with prior experience or interest in device technology, semiconductor manufacturing techniques, or material science and a background in electrical engineering or physics will have the possibility to use the device characterisation and manufacturing facilities of the Sensor Technology Research Centre (including a class 100 cleanroom) to work on novel thin-film devices for future flexible applications.

Advanced Communication and Networking in Connected Vehicles
Project Supervisor: Dr Zhengguo Sheng


The connected vehicle is a research area of significant importance in our increasingly mobile, intelligent and interconnected world. With multiple disciplines and emerging technologies, revolutionary changes and improvements have been made to our transportation systems which will significantly enhance our travel experience in safety, efficiency, and eco-environment and make our mobility more enjoyable, comfortable, and sustainable.

Current research activities in the design of connected vehicles include large-scale distributed sensor networks (DSN); advanced in-vehicle, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication systems; cooperative communications technologies; heterogeneous networks; and networked electric vehicles (NEVs). This project will focus on innovative research in radio signal access and resource allocation, protocols and Quality of Service solutions for vehicular networks to tackle the challenges and shape the next generation technologies for connected vehicles.

Improving Electricity Network Reliability with Distributed Energy Resouces
Project Supervisor: Dr Spyros Skarvelis-Kazakos

Second supervisor: Dr Julian Dunne


The main challenges of grid integration of renewable energy sources in future power systems are resource variability and limited dispatchability and control. Additionally, an increasing number of domestic micro-generators, energy storage, controllable/flexible loads and electric vehicles is being connected to the electricity distribution networks, collectively referred to as Distributed Energy Resources (DER). This is done largely on a fit-and-forget basis, with minimal control arrangements, further reducing the reliability of the electricity network. Still, there is a potential role for DER in managing renewable generation intermittency. Although DER may increase network complexity, they can often be controllable, and there is scope for utilising this controllability.

This project will investigate if electricity network reliability and renewable energy capacity can be increased, by means of probabilistic reliability assessment methods and intelligent controllers for DER. A probabilistic algorithm for assessing the reliability of electricity distribution networks will be developed. Intelligent control methods will also be developed for DER, incorporating reliability and robustness metrics. The potential of DER to support renewable energy integration and validate the effectiveness of the developed methodologies will be quantified with a case study.

You will join the Dynamics, Control and Vehicle (DCV) Research Group and contribute to the development of a multi-disciplinary research programme on energy and smart grids, benefiting from strong links with the industry.

Ideal candidates will have a minimum of a 2:1 UK Bachelor’s degree, (or equivalent) but a Master’s degree in a related field and/or a relevant undergraduate degree with strong academic results would be preferred. Applicants with significant relevant non-academic experience are also encouraged to apply.

You will be enthusiastic, self-driven and independent, be able to work well in a team as well as individually, and committed to excellent research. You should also have an appreciation of the purpose of undertaking research and the difference between research and taught degrees. Interest and/or knowledge of renewable energy integration issues, as well as a good understanding of power system operation would be useful. Familiarity with distributed energy resource concepts, probabilistic methods and/or multi-agent systems would be a further advantage. Working knowledge of power system simulation packages and programming languages such as Java are also desirable.

Determination of Structual Properties of Cold Roll Formed Dimpled Steel Sections and Analysing Galling in the Forming Process
Project Supervisor: Dr Chang Jiang Wang

Dimpled steel sections are cold roll formed by Hadley Group. The dimpled sections have been analysed and it is found that they can carry more load than the pre-dimpled plain steel sections. Previous numerical analysis and experimental tests have focused on the maximum loading capacity of the dimpled sections. Section properties and end connection characteristics of the dimpled structures are more complicated than plain steel sections, consequently, this project aims to derive design expressions for these properties, including rotational and linear stiffness of end connections, using finite element modelling and experimental tests.

The project is in collaboration with Hadley Group, one of the largest cold roll manufacturing companies in UK. In addition to analysing structural properties, the project will analyse contact pressure and friction force in other cold roll forming processes to eliminate galling. Experimental tests will be supported by the company and conducted using material testing machines at Hadley Group. Applicants should have structural engineering or mechanical engineering background and finite element modelling experience.

III-V (phosphides) semiconductor detectors for space science and astronomy
Project Supervisor: Dr Anna Barnett

Second supervisor: Prof Robert Prance


The successful candidate will join a world-leading research team to investigate high performance III-V (phosphides) semiconductor materials and detectors for use in future space science and astronomy missions. The project will significantly advance the state of the art in compound semiconductors detectors and contribute to fundamental materials science advancements. Applications are invited from individuals with a good Batchelor’s or Master’s degree in Physics or Microelectronics.

Analysis of coupled forced and self–excited vibrations in rotating machines
Project Supervisor: Dr Evgeny Petrov

Second supervisor: Dr Julian Dunne


This project will focus on the development of analysis methods and on numerical studies of the vibratory response of rotating machinery structures and, in particular, gas-turbine bladed discs subjected to the combined action of the external forces and self-excitation. The self-excitation from gas-flow and from rubbing contacts with friction will be considered. The approaches for the control and suppression of the flutter-induced vibration by forced vibration and by optimization of structural parameters will be developed. Mistuning effects and effects of nonlinear contact interfaces on the flutter inception and on self-excited vibrations under external forcing will be studied.

Optimization and robustness of the nonlinear dynamic response for complex structures with joints
Project Supervisor: Dr Evgeny Petrov

Second supervisor: Dr Julian Dunne


This project is aimed at the development of methods for solution of two interconnected problems: (i) optimization of levels for nonlinear vibrations and (ii) analysis and optimization of robustness of the response levels in the presence of inevitable uncertainty in the design parameters and excitation loads. Critical machinery structures (such as bladed discs, wind turbines, car and airplane braking systems) will be considered, which require using high-fidelity modelling of their components and nonlinear contact interactions occurring at the joints. The methods will allow to find efficiently the sets of contact interface and structural design parameters minimising the vibration levels and providing the desirable robustness for steady-state vibrations for structures with friction and gap contact interfaces.