DPhil in Renewable Energy Marine Structures (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
Marine structure
An offshore rig
(Image Credit: DONG Energy A/S)

DPhil in Renewable Energy Marine Structures (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

The DPhil in Renewable Energy Marine Structures provides graduates with the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in the design and development of renewable energy marine structures. The programme provides a comprehensive state-of-the-art training encompassing taught modules and advanced research based in the University laboratories.

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is run in collaboration with Cranfield University though you will be based in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford for the majority of your degree. The main area of interest at Oxford is in geotechnical engineering, though applicants working in the wider area of civil engineering with applications to renewable energy marine structures are also welcomed.

The first year of the course focuses on developing core skills in offshore engineering through both taught courses at Cranfield and individual research. From October to December you will complete an induction term at Cranfield University where you will take introductory taught courses, across the breadth of design for renewable energy marine structures, including a group design project. This will develop a broad knowledge base on which to build your advanced research from. You will also develop links with the students enrolled through the Cranfield stream of the CDT. You will begin individual research from January, as preparation for your main research project. During this time, you will meet your supervisor regularly to assess progress and discuss academic issues. You will also continue with the group project, which will normally be completed by the end of April of the first year.

Following the second term you will have access to a range of advanced skills, transferable skills and management/leadership skills modules that will be taught at Cranfield University. These will be completed according to a flexible timetable agreed with your main research supervisor to complement your research activities. The advanced skills modules will include structural design, structural integrity, manufacturing, fluid mechanics and geotechnical engineering. Transferable skills will include academic writing and presentation, research ethics, IP, teamwork and communication skills. Leadership skills will include aspects of management, strategy, operations and entrepreneurial skills. The main focus of activity following the second term will be the individual research project, which will be based at the University of Oxford.

You will integrate with both the CDT cohort and the Engineering Department, principally Civil Engineering, at Oxford, where you will attend research seminars to discuss research papers, to present your research, to rehearse conference talks, and to build links between different research areas. An annual CDT workshop will give you the opportunity to present research to other CDT students, industrial partners and invited researchers from other universities. Industrial collaborators will be invited to share their latest problems and to highlight market trends.

You will be assessed continually through the first year during the taught courses and the group project, as well as from the individual project. Following the completion of four terms, including the induction term, the CDT supervisors will formally assess whether sufficient progress has been made to continue with the research. You will be required to write a research report, to give an oral presentation, as well as to present a detailed and coherent plan for your future research. Progress towards completion is again formally assessed during the eighth term of study. For the DPhil, you will be required to submit a substantial thesis which is read and examined by experts in the field, one from the department and one from elsewhere. Often the thesis will result in the publication of several journal and conference papers.

Graduate destinations

The CDT in Renewable Energy Marine Structures will provide graduates with in-depth training and an exposure to research and development problems of vital interest to industrial and academic partners. The graduates will benefit from a progressive increase of responsibility and external exposure to make them well equipped for leadership roles in industry, both nationally and internationally. Graduates may also progress into post-doctoral positions to further develop their research and career.

Related courses

Multiple applications

In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee.

You may only apply to one programme from Group B under this arrangement without paying further application fees.

Group A
Group B
 DPhil in Engineering Science

For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2018-19

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in an engineering degree, either in general engineering, civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering or a related area. Applications from candidates with degrees in closely-related disciplines will also be considered. A previous master's qualification is not required.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews (in person or by other means) may form part of the admissions process.


Prior publications may be an advantage and will be considered when an application is assessed.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Centre for Doctoral Training to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Centre for Doctoral Training and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Centre for Doctoral Training.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Please explore the research areas of the staff in civil engineering to assess topics likely to be available within the scope of the CDT. Topics that will be supported are in geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, fluid mechanics and in tidal energy.


The Renewable Energy Marine Structures CDT is resourced by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and is jointly hosted by Cranfield University and Oxford University. Application to Oxford University leads to enrolment on the Oxford stream of the CDT. This stream of work will involve topics in geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, fluid mechanics and tidal energy. Oxford students will spend an induction term from October to December at Cranfield University before completing the remainder of their course at Oxford.

The Department of Engineering Science is a unified department where over 100 members of academic staff are committed to advanced work in their own specialities, while recognising a common engineering foundation. This creates an intellectual space where interdisciplinary work thrives, and where expert advice is available to students in areas, which not central to their core research, still impinge on it.

The department has well-equipped research areas and workshops, that together with offices, lecture theatres, specialist research libraries, common room, stores, reprographics and other facilities, occupies some 16,000 square metres.  The department has around 350 research students and about 200 postdoctoral researchers and research fellows. Direct funding of research grants and contracts, from a variety of sources, amounts to an annual turnover of approximately £25m in addition to general turnover of about £26m.

The key research area for the CDT is Renewable Energy Marine Structures. At Oxford this will principally involve civil engineering, focused on geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, fluid mechanics and tidal energy. In geotechnical engineering the department has a very well equipped laboratory focusing on laboratory scale model testing, with a number of bespoke loading rigs for carrying out research into the response of offshore foundations.

In structural engineering the department’s research focuses on structural dynamics, and a state of the art structural dynamics laboratory is available for research use. Work in fluid mechanics and tidal energy is much more focused on computational aspects. Students in the CDT will benefit from being part of the CDT cohort with Cranfield and will be based in the Civil Engineering group at Oxford, located in Oxford’s main engineering site, close to the laboratories and supervisors.


There are over 1,100 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.


Annual fees for entry in 2018-19

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

Over the course of your studies you will be required to attend study modules at Cranfield University for approximately 20 weeks in total. You will need to pay your own accommodation and food costs while attending modules at Cranfield University. Accommodation over the 4 year course is expected to total around £6,000. You will also be expected to fund your travel costs to and from Cranfield University. Travel costs from Oxford to Cranfield over the 4 year course are expected to be around £450 in total, but will depend on individual circumstances. In the first year of the programme, to avoid duplication of costs, you will be advised to take accommodation in Oxford from the January after the programme commences having spent the first term of the programme living accessibly for the period of study at Cranfield. If you are awarded a fully funded place on the programme (eg an RCUK studentship or an industrially sponsored award) you will receive a stipend/funding in relation to your living expenses which you should manage accordingly.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

If you would like to discuss a research proposal and potential supervisors, please familiarise yourself with the civil engineering section of the Department of Engineering Science website and then contact the Oxford CDT Director, Professor Byron Byrne.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose and research proposal:
Around 2,000 words overall

You should submit both a personal statement and a research proposal, both written in English, combined into a single document.

Your statement should focus on your research and career ambitions in the area of the CDT, rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations. Your research proposal should comprise a detailed outline of your proposed research.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for your past commitment to sustained and intense study, your reasons for wishing to undertake research in the area of renewable energy marine structures and how the approach in the CDT will be of benefit in this context. Your detailed research proposal will be assessed thoroughly.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least one must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Professional references are acceptable though at least one reference should be academic.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and potential, motivation, creativity, and ability to work singly and in a group. Professional references are acceptable though at least one reference should be academic.

You do not need to specify a supervisor in applying although you may express a preference for someone who is working within the broad area of the CDT. You may specify a research project area/title however you may also just state 'EPSRC CDT in REMS' if you do not have a specific project in mind.

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