Current research opportunities

Research students

Our research is world leading in its contribution to global innovation. With our emphasis on the aerospace, automotive, defence and security, health, energy, environment, management and manufacturing sectors we have changed the way society thinks, works and learn.

You can be a part of this by undertaking a research degree at Cranfield – either by undertaking a bespoke research project, applying for a PhD or MSc by research in one of our schools or by considering one of the funded research opportunities below. These are often full-time over three years although part-time opportunities also exist.

Search for PhD and MSc studentship by selecting your area of interest below.

Aerospace

Aeroengine design and performance optimisation with Rolls-Royce

Applications are invited for three-year PhD or one-year MRes studentships in the Department of Power and Propulsion, Cranfield University, in the field of aero-engine design and performance optimisation. The research is in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. Studentships cover a wide range of research areas, from the design optimisation of the main and secondary gas paths of the engine, turbomachinery and variable geometry, to the optimisation of the cycle performance at extreme operating conditions.

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BAMMsat Bioscience, Astrobiology, Medical and Materials Science for Free-flying CubeSats and CubeSat-like Payloads

CubeSats are a rapidly emerging class of miniaturised spacecraft built from small numbers of 10x10x10cm3 units (typ. ≤ 6). They are starting to demonstrate their promise of revolutionising access to space by enabling rapidly implemented, frequent and low-cost flights. Cranfield University has a CubeSat development programme to exploit CubeSats for experiments requiring access to space environments – primarily microgravity and space radiation – and with application to bioscience, astrobiology, medical and materials science sectors. This programme is called BAMMsat. We are looking for PhD candidates who can contribute to the on-going development of BAMMsat.

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Boundary layer ingestion technologies for future aircraft systems

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the Centre for Propulsion Engineering, Cranfield University, in the field of aero-engine installation performance and aerodynamics. The research is in collaboration with the Airbus Group, UK

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Gas turbine gas path diagnostics, prognostics and life consumption analysis

The objective of the proposed research is to further develop the methodology in the area of gas path diagnostics, gas path prognostics and life consumption analysis and apply the technology to the health and life monitoring of a civil aero gas turbine turbofan engine under development in SEDRI (Shenyang Engine Research and Design Institute). The critical components for the diagnostic, prognostic and life consumption analysis will be the key gas path components of the compressors, the combustor and the turbines.

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Innovative digital workflows for aerospace manufacturing engineering

Cranfield University have a collaborative research opportunity with Rolls-Royce, which aims to develop and pilot an innovative concept for digital workflows within a large, complex engineering business which add value by being lean, configurable and digitally implemented. The principle of digital workflows is a key theme within the future Rolls-Royce manufacturing engineering strategy. The research challenge will be to evaluate the current approach relative to the opportunities presented by the proposed concept(s) within a complex global organization.

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Multi-disciplinary design optimisation for novel aircraft wing layouts

This project will build on previous work delivered with Airbus, in developing computational design approaches and geometry parameterisation tools for multi-disciplinary design of aircraft configurations. A series of previous Airbus EngD and PhD students have successfully integrated and applied sets of multi-disciplinary analysis and geometry-handling tools at both low fidelity level (including development of a high speed aerodynamic modelling capability) for configurational design, and high fidelity for component design – with a focus towards engine/airframe combinations. The main objective of the project will be to consider how to embrace alternatives to traditional span/rib/cover construction within a generalised geometry parameterisation procedure that can handle and be interrogated for the full range of required component attributes.

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Multi-scale optimised pylon structures for efficient engine integration

Aircraft structures typically have the power plant (e.g. jet engine) with airframe integration in a form of pylon/nacelle structure embedded under the wing. Design restrictions such as hydraulics, air and electrical circuit pass-through, interface constraints and manufacturing process limitations often reduces the design space of these pylon structures considerably. The objective of this PhD is to explore the design domain of the pylon structure and its internal architecture using multi-scale optimisation techniques and explore ways in which metallic and FRP composite components can be integrated to produce highly efficient structure.

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Optimisation of hybrid vehicle powertrains topologies and control

The automotive sector is increasingly adopting electrification of powertrain in various forms, driven by the stringent regulation in all major markets of CO2 and pollutant emissions. The successful candidate will perform research towards developing powertrain control and optimisation techniques to be tested in a hardware-in-the-loop test rig. Such setup could be used, for example, to investigate the benefits of alternative energy storages such as supercapacitors or flywheels.

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Trajectory based operation 4D FMS and air traffic flow management

The objective of the research is to deliver technological and methodological innovations for a flexible trajectory synchronisation in maximising the flexibility, efficiency, capacity and fairness without compromising agreed levels of safety. The key areas of research are air traffic flow management and control, airport operations and capacity analysis, aeronautical communication and information management as well as aircraft systems integration and performance enhancement. Understanding the concepts of operation as well as the roadmap of SESAR developments are also fundamental for the full exploitation of the outcomes of these initiatives.

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Agrifood

Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical Methods DREAM CDT Cohort 2

In partnership with four leading universities: Cranfield, Birmingham, Cambridge and Newcastle, and over twenty informatics industry organisations collaborating to deliver leading edge research and training through the DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), the programme will provide a research experience combining academic rigour with real world problem solving, ensuring you have the opportunities to progress your career in the global informatics sector. Researchers will study for a PhD, benefiting from expertise, events and courses run at all four of the partner universities.

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Funded research opportunities in Agrifood

Cranfield is a member of one of four newly formed consortia to receive a share of a £12 million investment from the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) to provide advanced training for the development of the UK agrifood industry under the Advanced AgriFood Training Partnership (AATP). Eligible applicants in the agrifood sector can apply to come to study a funded MSc by Research or PhD on a part-time basis. Successful individuals will obtain a postgraduate qualification and employers will benefit from a scientifically skilled workforce. You will be able to make use of our excellent facilities and expertise to conduct in-house research whilst training at postgraduate level.

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Quantifying and alleviating deep seated compaction in arable soils

This PhD project will expand the applicability of a prototype multi-sensor to measure soil compaction in the topsoil to quantify soil compaction through the soil profile to a depth of up to 60 cm utilising NIAB’s established contemporary tillage experiments (New Farming Systems (NFS) and Sustainability Trial in Arable Rotations (STAR)). Further field experiments will then develop and test this prototype multi-sensor to quantify soil compaction through the soil profile.

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SIDATIM - Biology and economics of a new biomass crop (Sida hermaphrodita)

This studentship will provide a bursary of £15,000. (tax free) plus fees* for three years

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Defence and Security

Fully funded PhD studentship in active materials for intelligent antenna technology

This is an exciting opportunity to join a dynamic group at the Shrivenham Campus of Cranfield University whose primary focus is working on antennas, microwave and millimetre wave engineering for LTE and fifth generation (5G) wireless communications. The aim is to explore a variety of novel RF and microwave active antennas based on a combination of semiconducting materials and technologies embedded in antenna radiating structures. Experience with microwave circuit and electromagnetic simulation tools would be desirable as well as any previous experience in antennas or microwave circuit design and testing.

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Fully funded PhD studentship in hyperspectral/multispectral imaging

Two PhD Studentships in the area of hyperspectral/multispectral remote sensing are available from January 2016 the Shrivenham Campus of Cranfield University. The project includes hyperspectral scene simulation, sub-pixel target detections, band selections, active hyperspectral imaging and applications of the above for environmental and civil/biomedical usage. The successful candidate is expected to work closely with our collaborators in the UK and abroad. Students with strong backgrounds in imaging systems, remote sensing, computing, electronics, mathematical modelling, machine vision and electro-optics are encouraged to apply.

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High velocity impact response against concrete and structural systems

This exciting PhD opportunity is focused on the high velocity impact response of complex structures comprising both single and multi-phase materials in order to characterise them for enhanced protection. Material properties change substantially with impact velocity; as an example, as impact velocity increases, steels will both strain and strain-rate harden as well as thermally soften to greater extents (with other phenomena such as phase changes also playing a significant role in material response).

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PhD studentship in graphene-base high performance propellants

The primary focus of this PhD research is to understand the interaction mechanism and stability of nitrate esters and plasticiser (energetic or non-energetic) in graphene-based formulations. The study of the dispersity of graphene in propellant formulations, chemical interaction, and crystallinity of nitrocellulose with graphene will be the parts of this programme.

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Remote Intelligence of Building Interiors Using Radar

The research will develop and de-risk low frequency radar image collection and processing techniques for sensing the interiors of buildings; to determine their internal structures, and to detect the presence of equipment and human activity.

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Two fully funded PhD studentships in propellants, explosives and pyrotechnics

The first PhD aims to investigate the applicability of RAM (resonant acoustic mixing) for cast cured high explosive formulations useful for the Ministry of Defence. The second PhD aims to investigate the applicability of RAM for cast cured high explosive formulations.

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Environmental Technology

Data, risk and environmental analytical method DREAM CDT cohort 1

The DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in partnership with four leading universities: Cranfield, Birmingham, Cambridge and Newcastle, and over twenty informatics industry organisations collaborating to deliver leading edge research and training through the DREAM CDT. We are looking for future science and engineering leaders who can deliver research and innovation in big data, risk and environmental analytical methods. The programme will provide a research experience combining academic rigour with real world problem solving, ensuring you have the opportunities to progress your career in the global informatics sector.

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Funded research opportunities in Agrifood

Cranfield is a member of one of four newly formed consortia to receive a share of a £12 million investment from the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) to provide advanced training for the development of the UK agrifood industry under the Advanced AgriFood Training Partnership (AATP). Eligible applicants in the agrifood sector can apply to come to study a funded MSc by Research or PhD on a part-time basis. Successful individuals will obtain a postgraduate qualification and employers will benefit from a scientifically skilled workforce. You will be able to make use of our excellent facilities and expertise to conduct in-house research whilst training at postgraduate level.

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Maximising the value of trade wastes

This studentship will provide a bursary of £18,000. (tax free) plus fees* for three years

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SIDATIM - Biology and economics of a new biomass crop (Sida hermaphrodita)

This studentship will provide a bursary of £15,000. (tax free) plus fees* for three years

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The Next Generation of Drinking Water Treatment: Microbubbles and Nanobubbles

This studentship will provide a bursary of £19,000. (tax free) plus fees* for four years

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The Sue White Fund for Africa

The fund will support proposals which seek funding for projects in any area of research into water and sanitation with special preference for studies on catchment processes and water management. Projects should involve fieldwork in Africa, with preference given to studies in Ghana, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, or Tanzania; all countries that Prof. White had strong links with. The student should spend the majority of their time based in Africa and the first two months of their registration at Cranfield.

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The Sue White Fund for Africa - Development of a remote sensing based framework for the best land management practices

Malindi Watamu is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the Kenyan coast north of Mombasa. The Biosphere Reserve is a designation that is part of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Intergovernmental Science programme with the functions to develop and test approaches to sustainable development on an ecosystem scale. This PhD will aim to “Develop a remote sensing based framework for the identification of best land management practices” within Malindi Watamu. The results from this project will help local communities to develop sustainable farming management practices to preserve the ecosystem services within the area.

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Leadership and Management

MSc by Research in Leadership and Management

This studentship will include a full scholarship of up to full UK/EU fees, and includes some funding for living expenses or other costs.

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Policy Evaluation via user innovated methods

This studentship will provide a bursary of approximately £14,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years

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Uncertainty Evaluation in Complex Engineered Systems

This studentship will provide a bursary of approximately £14,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years

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Manufacturing

Innovative digital workflows for aerospace manufacturing engineering

Cranfield University have a collaborative research opportunity with Rolls-Royce, which aims to develop and pilot an innovative concept for digital workflows within a large, complex engineering business which add value by being lean, configurable and digitally implemented. The principle of digital workflows is a key theme within the future Rolls-Royce manufacturing engineering strategy. The research challenge will be to evaluate the current approach relative to the opportunities presented by the proposed concept(s) within a complex global organization.

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Train cab front cleaning robot

This MSc by Research participates in a recently awarded project to study the feasibility of a “Cab front cleaning robot”. Together with our partners (Heriot-Watt University, Bombardier Transportation, Chiltern Railways, and Shadow Robot Company), the MSc student will be looking at the whole systems design as well as mechanical arm design.

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Transport Systems

Optimisation of hybrid vehicle powertrains topologies and control

The automotive sector is increasingly adopting electrification of powertrain in various forms, driven by the stringent regulation in all major markets of CO2 and pollutant emissions. The successful candidate will perform research towards developing powertrain control and optimisation techniques to be tested in a hardware-in-the-loop test rig. Such setup could be used, for example, to investigate the benefits of alternative energy storages such as supercapacitors or flywheels.

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