DPhil in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures (EPSRC CDT) | University of Oxford
Marine structure
An offshore rig
(Image Credit: DONG Energy A/S)

DPhil in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures (EPSRC CDT)

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 December 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 January 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.

In the first year you will be assessed on the taught courses and the group project, as well as your individual research project. Early in your second year, there will be a formal assessment to decide whether you have made sufficient progress to continue working towards a DPhil. You will be required to write a research report, give an oral presentation, and present a detailed and coherent plan for your future research. Progress towards completion will again be formally assessed during your third year of study. For the DPhil you will be required to submit a substantial thesis that will be examined by experts in the field (one from the department and one from elsewhere). The research will often result in the publication of several journal and conference papers.

Graduate destinations

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.

Other courses in this area

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 2019-20

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 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 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 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 via Skype. 


Prior publications other than a MEng/MSc dissertation are not expected, but if applicable they should be listed in the application.

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 Department of Engineering Science 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 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.

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 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.


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. 


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course 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 2019-20

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£7,665

The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.

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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

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 likely increases to fees and charges.

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 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

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.

Living costs

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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

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

In your application you may wish to indicate a proposed research project and/or supervisor in the 'About your course' section. 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. 

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:
Up to 1,000 words

Your statement should briefly outline your relevant education and, if applicable, your professional experience. You should then discuss your motivation for applying to the CDT, highlighting the specific areas that interest you, and explaining your suitability for the combination of multi-disciplinary training with doctoral-level research. Your statement should focus on your research and career ambitions in the area of the CDT, rather than on other personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Your statement will be assessed for:

  • your past commitment to sustained and intense study
  • your reasons for wishing to undertake research in the area of the CDT
  • evidence of your understanding of, and suitability for, the proposed area of study
  • your ability to present a coherent case in proficient English.

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, 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. 

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application GuideApply

Was this page useful?*