Assessing how climate change will impact Cumbrian Coastal Lines (low value of service, but strategically important routes), with a focus on critical infrastructure for freight and energy material transport


The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Net Zero Maritime Energy solutions (N0MES) has a 4-year funded PhD place available for an exceptional researcher. With the support of the University of Liverpool (UoL), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and 33 maritime energy sector partners, N0MES PGRs will pursue new, engineering-centred, interdisciplinary research to address four vital net zero challenges currently facing the North West, the UK and beyond:

a) Energy generation using maritime-based renewable energy (e.g. offshore wind, tidal, wave, floating solar, hydrogen, CCS);

b) Distributing energy from offshore to onshore, including port- and hinterland-side impacts and opportunities;

c) Addressing the short- and long-term environmental impacts of offshore and maritime

environment renewable energy generation, distribution and storage; and

d) Decommissioning and lifetime extension of existing energy and facilities.

Project Description

The Cumbrian coastal rail-line is a critical infrastructure for local communities and the movement of materials, products and waste within the energy sector. The route is however exposed along several sections to the threat of climate change (sea level rise, changes in storminess, erosion, landslides, heat and flooding). 

The studentship would assess the risks and threats posed to Network Rails Cumbrian coastal line assets, from current and future climate change.

  1. Hazard and risk mapping of the most significant threats to determine the sites at greatest risk from current and future climate change impacts (increased storminess, heat, sea level and fluvial/pluvial flooding), including compound hazard risk.
  2. Undertake a detailed assessment of critical infrastructure identified at stage 1 to determine future opportunities, management and adaptation plans.
  1. Providing a toolkit for future adaptation to develop climate resilient futures for different critical infrastructure.

The study will deploy a mixed methods approach, incorporating risk mapping (GIS), hazard modelling (modelling) and then site specific case analysis of hazards presented to critical infrastructure (range of hazard, structural and probability analysis).

Industrial partner: Network Rail


We want all of our staff and Students to feel that Liverpool is an inclusive and welcoming environment that actively celebrates and encourages diversity. We are committed to working with students to make all reasonable project adaptations including supporting those with caring responsibilities, disabilities or other personal circumstances. For example, if you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students Allowance on top of your studentship to help cover the costs of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result.

We believe everyone deserves an excellent education and encourage students from all backgrounds and personal circumstances to apply.

Applicant Eligibility

Candidates will have, or be due to obtain, a Master’s Degree or equivalent from a reputable University in an appropriate field of Engineering. Exceptional candidates with a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate field will also be considered.


Application Process

Candidates wishing to apply should complete the University of Liverpool application form [How to apply for a PhD - University of Liverpool] applying for a PhD in Environmental Sciences and uploading: Degree Certificates & Transcripts, an up-to-date CV, two academic references and a supporting statement [maximum 300 words] detailing; what inspires you within this project, how your skill set matches the project, up to 3 examples showing your commitment to science, piece of science that excites you & anything else to support your application.


Candidates wishing to discuss the research project should contact the primary supervisor, Prof. Neil Macdonald  [], those wishing to discuss the application process should discuss this with the CDT Manager Matt Fulton [].

Tel. No. for Enquiries:  0151 794 2510


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The EPSRC funded Studentship will cover full tuition fees of £4,786 per year and pay a maintenance grant for 4 years, starting at the UKRI minimum of £19,237 pa. for 2024-2025. The Studentship also comes with access to additional funding in the form of a research training support grant which is available to fund conference attendance, fieldwork, internships etc.

EPSRC Studentships are available to any prospective student wishing to apply including international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise of international students and they will not be charged the fee difference between UK and international rate.