Call for PhD Studentship Proposals for the Risk and Uncertainty CDT

Supervisors are invited to submit PhD project proposals to the Centre for Doctoral Training in Risk and Uncertainty for MRes/PhD projects to start in September 2018. Submission instructions are at the bottom of this page. 

The projects will hosted by the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty (Risk Institute) at the University of Liverpool with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council.

Every student will be supervised by at least two faculty members from different disciplines, and the project must include an industrial collaborator. The primary supervisor must be from the University of Liverpool. Students will be supported for four years, completing an MRes during the first year. They will spend up to a year off campus, for instance, six months with an industrial partner and six months at another university. Student receive a generous £12,000 research budget in addition to their untaxed salary and tuition waivers. There will be at least ten studentships available this year.

Proposals can be submitted any time, but preferably as soon as possible. The sooner the project can be advertised, the better the chance to attract an excellent student candidate.

General Guidance

The studentships supported by the Risk and Uncertainty CDT may be in any academic discipline substantially related to risk and uncertainty or closely related areas. CDT projects must be of an academic standard sufficient for study at PhD level, and they must also have industrial impact. With this requirement in mind, proposals should be prepared in consultation with the leaders of the research themes of the CDT described below. The theme leaders have each been tasked to provide a contact point for those developing CDT project proposals and to develop contacts with around three key industries.

It is anticipated that project proposals might be developed in two ways. (1) An industrial partner describes a problem to a theme leader who then puts the partner in contact with an academic colleague with appropriate expertise/background. (2) An academic colleague approaches a theme leader with an idea for a CDT project proposal. The theme leader advises on whether or not the idea might be of interest to an industrial partner. If so, the industrial contact details may be given by the theme leader. If not, the academic colleague is free to find an alternative industrial partner.

Collaboration with overseas academic partners or with other CDTs is encouraged. A list of academic partners who have already signed an agreement with the Risk Institute is held by Andrea Jones (

Cohort training is one of the main objectives of the funding Research Councils, and therefore it is expected that CDT students will be based in the CDT offices in the Chadwick Building, especially for three taught courses during the first year. Training activities in the first and subsequent years include

  • Spring School,
  • Summer School,
  • training course at the Hartree Centre, and
  • PhD Showcase Conference.

Additionally, students are required to complete two secondments, either as two industrial secondments, OR one industrial and one academic secondment. Each secondment can be up to six months in duration. It is important that this is agreed with academic/industrial partners.

Project Requirements

The project should fit within the research themes of the Risk Institute. The project should involve

  1. at least two supervisors from different disciplines, and
  2. a supervisor from industry.

An academic partner from another university is also encouraged.

Student Eligibility

Home and EU/EEA students with a first-class honours degree (or equivalent) are eligible.

Home students ( have

  1. settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay, and
  2. been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship, meaning they have been residing in the UK apart from temporary or occasional absences, and
  3. not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals).

At least 60% of the scholarships are reserved for home students.

EU students are nationals of a member state of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

EEA students are from the European Economic Area, which includes the European Union plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway. While Switzerland is not in the EEA, Swiss nationals have the same rights as EEA citizens and enjoy the same benefits as EU students.

Proposal Assessment

Projects will be assessed by a panel which will include the PI and two CIs of the CDT and the director of the Risk Institute. Criteria for assessment will include

  • Quality of the candidate,
  • Fit of the project within the themes of the CDT,
  • Quality of industrial support,
  • Contribution of the supervisors to CDT training activities, and
  • Use of CDT facilities such as laboratories, high-performance computing resources, software, etc.

Risk and Uncertainty CDT Research Themes

1. Extreme Environmental Events (Dr Neil Macdonald)

    • Climate Change
    • Pollution
    • Land degradation
    • Flooding/drought
    • Earthquakes
    • Infrastructure resilience and adaptation
    • Detection of trapped survivors of earthquakes
    • Emergency services
    • Health-related issues
    • Impact on biological and economic systems

2. Data and Information (Prof. Simon Maskell)

    • Data mining and data processing
    • Monitoring of large-scale systems
    • Damage detection in machine systems
    • Health-related data & logistic regression
    • Large data
    • Prognosis and forecasting
    • Data security
    • Information gathering – ethics and legality

3. Decision Making (Prof. Laurence Alison)

    • National and Local government
    • Risk communication
    • Effect of risk on policy making
    • Risk of making wrong decisions
    • Insurance and reinsurance
    • Economic decision making
    • Investment
    • Conflict, crime and security
    • Control of infectious diseases
    • Cognition of uncertainty

4. Mathematical Modelling (Prof. Ivan Au and Dr Corina Constantinescu)

    • Financial markets and financial systems
    • Uncertainty in engineering systems
    • Environmental, ecological and biological systems
    • Extreme environments and rare events
    • Dynamic systems and control
    • Robustness
    • Human-machine interaction
    • Modelling of epidemics and pandemics

Proposal submission

You can submit your proposal online or email to Andrea Jones ( with the subject line "Centre for Doctoral Training in Risk and Uncertainty – Cohort 5", as soon as possible. Proposals must address the following items:

  1. Project title
  2. Name of lead academic supervisor and affiliation
  3. Academic co-supervisors and affiliations
  4. Industrial partner and financial contribution
  5. Theme(s)
  6. Summary (500-600 words) and 1 slide summary of the project (this will be used in recruitment publicity)
  7. Brief description of the use of CDT facilities (if any)
  8. Required special training (e.g. optional modules, summer schools, etc.)
  9. Potential contribution to training activities of the CDT (optional modules, seminars, short courses)
  10. Project description including hypotheses, key aims and outcomes