Internationally-leading fundamental and applied research across the engineering disciplines

Study Information

At a Glance

Degree Qualification
EngD, MSc or PhD

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Our research spans the engineering disciplines and ranges from theoretical analysis and computational modelling to laboratory experiments and full-scale testing of concepts and designs. Our aim is to conduct fundamental and applied research that ranks among the best in the UK and internationally. Applied dynamics, solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, internet engineering and power engineering are example areas of established research strength in the School, while new research strengths are rapidly developing in, for example, chemical engineering and petroleum engineering.

Research in the School is supported by state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, instrumentation and computing hardware and software. There is excellent technical support provided by laboratory-based technicians and well-equipped electronics and mechanical engineering workshops.

The Graduate School offers an induction programme and skills training opportunities for all research students to support their studies and to help with career planning.

MSc by Research

Students undertake a research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor and, unlike a postgraduate taught degree by coursework and dissertation, there are no formal lectures or seminars and work is not formally examined until after the final thesis is submitted. The thesis is required to display evidence of originality or present a satisfactory, orderly and critical exposition of existing knowledge within the field concerned.


A PhD is a Doctorate of Philosophy, a prestigious qualification that demonstrates talent, academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge. It usually culminates in a thesis based on research carried out over the course of 3-4 years. The research must “make a distinct contribution to knowledge and afford evidence of originality as shown by the exercise of independent critical powers”. There are no formal lectures or seminars but your work will be periodically qualitatively monitored by the Graduate School.

Our Research

Research within the School of Engineering is conducted within five research groups as follows.

Research Interests

Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Research Group

The Group conducts research in non-linear dynamics, solid mechanics and fracture mechanics. We use a combination of modelling and experimental work to study the fundamental behaviour of mechanical systems and materials, and to optimise the design of mechanical, structural and energy systems. Applications include: novel drilling technologies; dynamics of drill strings; behaviour and design of composite materials; advanced manufacturing processes; reliability-based design of renewable energy systems and components. The Group has excellent laboratory facilities for large-scale dynamic testing of systems and for fine-scale testing and characterisation of materials, including a sub-micron CT scanner and state of the art SEM.

Theme Leader: Professor Ekaterina Pavlovskaia

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Theoretical & Applied Mechanics

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Research Group

The Group conducts fundamental and applied research across a range of subject areas in electrical and electronic engineering, including: laser technologies and holographic cameras; power systems, power electronics and control engineering; sensing and measurement algorithms; new Internet transport protocols; and converged TV/Internet. The Group contributes to global Internet measurement and leads international standardisation via the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The Group encompasses the Aberdeen HVDC Research Centre, which is an internationally-leading centre for research on DC grids and HVDC transmission systems.

Theme Leader: Professor Gorry Fairhurst

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Electrical and Electronic Engineering Research Group

Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering Research Group

The Group’s research is aimed at optimising production from hydrocarbon reservoirs with due consideration for safety, well integrity, environmental impact, and decommissioning. We use advanced computational methods and laboratory experiments for research on: well design and integrity; drilling fluid automation; reservoir characterisation and simulation; performance and production in conventional and hydraulically fractured shale reservoirs; multiphase flow modelling in wellbore and surface facilities; fluid-fluid and rock-fluid interactions; reservoir geomechanics; enhanced oil recovery; flow characterisation using micro-CT imaging; design of automated pilot-scale production rig.

Theme Leader: Professor Alfred Akisanya

Mechanics of Fluids, Soils and Structures Research Group

The Group uses experimental and computational approaches for fundamental and applied research in fluid, soil and structural mechanics. Research in fluid mechanics covers environmental and industrial flows at sub-mm to kilometre scale: open-channel, coastal and eco hydraulics; sediment transport; flow-porous-bed interfaces; liquid-solid impacts; multi-physics modelling; thermophysical properties of fluids. Soil mechanics research focuses on ground anchorage dynamics and interactions between seabed and bottom-moving objects, while research in structures is concerned with the design and analysis of structural systems, components and connections, and structural health monitoring. The transport group takes an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of transport systems, with emphasis on environmental and societal impact. The Group’s research is supported by outstanding experimental facilities.

Theme Leader: Professor Vladimir Nikora

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Mechanics of Fluids, Soils and Structures Research Group

Chemical and Materials Engineering Group

We work on applications such as carbon capture, energy storage, biofuels, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. We do so with experimental and computational methods that cover a wide spectrum of length and time scales: from the atomistic level in, for example, catalysis research, via transport processes at the meso-scale, and reactor engineering at the scale of process equipment, to (bio) process plant design. The Group comprises research active academic staff with strong expertise in catalysis, reaction engineering, kinetic modelling, biochemical engineering, multiphase flow and transport processes, molecular & granular dynamics and ionic liquids.

Supervisors: Professor Jos Derksen

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Chemical and Materials Engineering Group

Fees and Funding

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Our Funding Database

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Our Engineering postgraduates are sought by a wide range of employers in the UK and worldwide. Many take up positions in the engineering industry, in engineering consultancy companies, and in the computing industry. Others go on to work in research and academic institutions, both government and private.

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Contact Details

Postgraduate Research School - School of Engineering, Geosciences and Natural and Computing Science
University of Aberdeen
Crombie Hall
AB24 3TS