About the course
The DPhil in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures will offer you the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, understanding and expertise in the design and development of offshore renewable energy systems (wind, wave and tidal).
The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures is run by the University of Oxford in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh. All students on the CDT course undertake a comprehensive programme of taught modules, as well as an individual doctoral research project.
As an Oxford DPhil student you will be based at the Department of Engineering Science in central Oxford for the majority of your degree. The main research interests for the Oxford stream of the CDT are in geotechnical engineering (notably foundations for offshore wind turbines) and environmental fluid mechanics (as applied to offshore wind and tidal turbines). Applications to work in other areas of civil engineering with relevance to offshore renewable energy (eg structural health monitoring) are also welcomed.
The first year of the course focuses on developing core skills through both taught courses and individual research work. From October to January you will complete an induction term at the University of Strathclyde in central Glasgow. There you will take introductory taught courses covering fundamental aspects of offshore renewable energy, and you will participate in a group design project. The induction term will establish a broad knowledge base on which to build your advanced research, and will allow you to develop links with students enrolled through the Strathclyde and Edinburgh streams of the CDT. From February of the first year you will be based in Oxford to begin individual research work, as preparation for your main research project. During this time you will meet your academic supervisor(s) regularly to assess progress and discuss research matters. As your research work begins you will also continue with the group design project, which will normally be completed by the end of your second term.
Following the second term you will have access to a range of technical skills, transferable skills and management/leadership skills modules that will be taught at Strathclyde, Oxford or Edinburgh. These modules will be completed according to a flexible timetable, agreed with your supervisor(s), to complement your research activities. The technical skills modules will include relevant aspects of geotechnical engineering (three modules), fluid mechanics (two modules), structural dynamics, structural integrity, mechanical engineering and environmental impact assessment. Transferable skills will include academic writing and presentation, research ethics, intellectual property, teamwork and communication skills. Leadership skills will include aspects of management, strategy, operations and entrepreneurship. However, the main focus of activity following the second term will be your individual research project. You will continue to meet your supervisor(s) on a regular basis.
In Oxford you will be a member of the civil engineering research group, where you will integrate with other students, attend research seminars, discuss papers, present your research, rehearse conference talks, and build links between different research areas. An annual CDT workshop will give you the opportunity to present your research to other CDT students, industrial partners and invited researchers from other universities. Industrial collaborators will be invited to discuss current challenges and to highlight market trends.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Engineering Science 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 Department of Engineering Science.
You will join your supervisor's research group which normally has post- doctoral researchers and other research students working on broadly similar research themes. Typically you would interact daily with members of the group and have weekly contact with your supervisor. Many groups have weekly meetings where members discuss their research or perhaps present other published work.
You will receive ongoing assessment and feedback from your supervisors. At the end of your first year of research you will be required to Transfer your Status from a Probationary Research Student (PRS) to DPhil Student. For the transfer process you need to write a report and give a presentation on your research to date and your plans for progressing. Your work is assessed by two faculty members or researchers in the department who are not your supervisors and involves an oral exam.
At the beginning of your third year of study your progress towards completion is again formally assessed, by a Confirmation of DPhil Status process. A report of your progress and your plan for completion is submitted and is assessed by two faculty or researchers in the department who are not your supervisors and involves an oral exam.
At the end of your research 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. You will then defend this thesis at a Viva Voce examination with the two examiners. It is anticipated that the thesis will result in the publication of two or three journal papers.
The final degree is awarded by the University of Oxford.
The CDT will provide DPhil students with multi-disciplinary expertise in offshore renewable energy, and allow them to work on challenging research and development problems, often in collaboration with industrial and academic partners. As they progress through the CDT, students will benefit from a gradual increase in responsibility and a greater level of external engagement, making them well equipped for future leadership roles in industry, both nationally and internationally. It is expected that many DPhil graduates from the CDT will go directly into industry, with others moving on to post-doctoral positions and choosing to follow an academic career path.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the department
All graduate courses offered by the Department of Engineering Science
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours.
The qualification(s) above should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:
- general engineering
- civil engineering
- mechanical engineering; or
- a closely related discipline.
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 your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Prior publications other than a MEng/MSc dissertation are not expected, but if applicable they should be listed in the application.
Please explore the research areas of the staff in the civil engineering research group to assess topics likely to be available within the scope of the CDT. The main research interests for the Oxford stream of the CDT are in the areas of geotechnical engineering and environmental fluid mechanics.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
All applications will be assessed and discussed by relevant academic staff within the CDT. A shortlist of candidates will then be invited for interview. Interviews will take place as soon as possible after the assessment of written applications, and may be conducted in person (if convenient) or online.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.
The CDT in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures is resourced by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with matching funding contributions from industry. The CDT is hosted by the University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh. A successful application to the University of Oxford leads to enrolment on the Oxford stream of the CDT.
Engineering research and teaching at Oxford takes place in a unified Department of Engineering Science with over 100 academic staff who 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, although not central to their core research, may still impinge on it. There are also strong links with other departments in the mathematical and physical sciences, with other universities in the UK and overseas, and with a wide range of industrial collaborators and funders.
The department occupies some 16,000 square metres, with well-equipped research areas and workshops, offices, lecture theatres, specialist research libraries, common room, stores, reprographics and other facilities. The department has around 350 research students and about 200 postdoctoral researchers and research fellows.
The geotechnical engineering group at Oxford currently has a strong focus on foundations for offshore wind turbines and other offshore renewables, with research areas spanning theoretical modelling, numerical modelling, laboratory testing of soils and foundations, field testing, and development of design guidance. The group has close relationships with industry, including collaborations with most of the UK's main wind farm developers through recent joint industry projects such as PISA, PISA2 and ALPACA. The geotechnical laboratory facilities in Oxford are focused on advanced soil element testing (stress-path triaxial, dynamic triaxial, multi-directional simple shear) and on scale model testing of foundations under complex loading.
The environmental fluid mechanics group at Oxford has a diverse range of interests in offshore renewable energy applications. Current topics of interest include resource assessment and interactions for tidal and wind turbines, wave loading on turbine monopiles, multi-scale flow analysis and blockage theory, and constructive interference effects including design of advanced rotor systems for tidal power. Much of the group's work involves high-performance computing using the university's ARC facility, with complementary physical modelling and field testing being carried out at a range of facilities in the UK and overseas.
In structural engineering the department's research focuses on structural dynamics and structural health monitoring. A well-equipped structural dynamics laboratory is available for research use.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
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 course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees and Funding section of this website, which includes detailed fee status information.
Students enrolled on the Oxford stream of the CDT will spend a total of about 20 weeks (including the induction term) attending taught modules and other elements of the course that are hosted at the University of Strathclyde or the University of Edinburgh. You will need to pay your own accommodation and food costs throughout the course, including when you are studying at Strathclyde / Edinburgh. Over the duration of the course, the cost of single accommodation at Strathclyde / Edinburgh is expected to be around £5000 (weighted towards the first year) and the associated travel costs are expected to be around £1000. To avoid duplication of accommodation costs, you are advised not to take accommodation in Oxford during the induction term.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the DPhil in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students
If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.
Contacting the department
If you would like to discuss a potential application to the CDT, you should first explore the webpages of the civil engineering research group to assess possible topics and/or supervisors for your doctoral research project. You should then contact the Oxford CDT Director, Professor Chris Martin.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Proposed field and title of research project
Under 'Proposed field and title of research project', you may wish to indicate a proposed research project. If you do not have a specific project in mind, you should simply enter 'EPSRC CDT in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures' as the proposed project.
You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).
Under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic (s) who you would like to supervise your research.
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, although at least one reference should be academic.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and potential, motivation and interest in the course and subject area, and ability to work effectively both independently and in a group.
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.
A minimum of 1,000 words, up to a maximum of 1,500 words
You should submit an outline of your proposed research, written in English. The overall word count should include any bibliography
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- your past commitment to sustained and intense study and your reasons for wishing to undertake research;
- evidence of interest in, experience of, and understanding of the proposed area of study;
- the originality of the proposed research;
- the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available; and
- your ability to present a reasoned and coherent case in English.
Inevitably your ideas will change as you develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to describe the extent and ambition of your proposed research using sources and methods from the current literature. Your proposal should focus on your research ambitions in engineering, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.