Advanced Composites

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Run by Faculty of Engineering
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Open to international students Yes
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

There is increasing demand across a wide range of industrial sectors for new types of materials with superior properties, so the design and development of advanced high-performance composites is crucially important, both for now and for the future. The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science offers students with outstanding potential across engineering, science and mathematics the chance to participate in cohort-driven training in composite materials and structures technologies and undertake cutting-edge research.

You will participate in a four-year, fully-funded programme. The rewarding first year includes a stimulating series of seminars and lectures, a unique hands-on group project to design, build and test a composite structure and an individual six-month research project. This experience will enable you to broaden and deepen your core engineering skills and explore the research areas that interest you most. Towards the end of your first year you will choose your PhD project.

The centre engenders a collaborative work environment, strengthened by the cohort-driven activities in the first year, which encourages knowledge-sharing and joint problem-solving, creating an inspiring and motivating atmosphere.

The centre has exceptional industrial links across a variety of sectors, with many of the six-month and PhD projects offered by our industrial partners. This provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience by working with technical industry experts and through international placements. Previous placements have included NASA Langley Research Center, Caltech, Sandia National Laboratories and Eindhoven University of Technology.

The scope of research within the centre covers a wide range of composites research; possible projects are related to:

  • morphing structures for aircraft, cars and marine craft
  • multifunctional materials, with embedded functionality for thermal management, sensing, actuation and self-repair
  • innovative manufacturing solutions.

On completion of the programme you will leave with far more than just a PhD qualification; you will have the skills, knowledge and acumen to become one of the future technical leaders in advanced composites, be it in academia or industry.

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

Enhanced EPSRC studentships covering fees and living costs are available to UK/EU students.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

Year 1

  • A range of core and optional taught units
  • Group design, build and test project
  • Individual six-month research project 
  • Transferable skills training and public engagement activities

Years 2-4

  • PhD research project
  • International placement opportunity  
  • Transferable skills training and public engagement activities

Entry requirements

An upper second-class degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent qualification). 

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile E
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

All CDT students are based in the ACCIS research group, which is within the Faculty of Engineering and has links to the Faculties of Science and Health Sciences. The vision of ACCIS is to be a world-leading centre for composites research, combining cutting-edge fundamental science with strong industrial links for exploitation and technology transfer. It is a focus for collaboration - internally, nationally and internationally - and led the establishment of the UK National Composites Centre.


Recent graduates from the programme have gone on to careers in industry (eg the aerospace, automotive, civil engineering, engineering consultancy and wind energy sectors) and academia (such as taking up post-doctoral research assistant positions at a UK university).

Staff profiles

Professor Ian Bond BSc, PhD(Bath), (Professor, Head of the Queen's School of Engineering), Development of novel and multifunctional composite materials.

Dr Ian Farrow BSc(Soton), PhD(CranIT), (ACCIS CDT Teaching Co-ordinator, Senior Lecturer), Design of composite structures.

Professor Stephen Hallett BSc(Cape Town), DPhil(Oxon), (Professor), Mechanics of composite materials and structures, numerical and experimental aspects of manufacture and failure.

Dr Ian Hamerton BSc(Sur), PhD(Sur), (ACCIS CDT Research Co-ordinator, Reader), High performance polymers and composites, smart materials and structures, multifunctional nano composites, polymer stabilisation and degradation, molecular modelling, flame retardant materials.

Dr Paul Harper MEng, PhD, MSc, (Lecturer), Design and analysis of composite structures, renewable energy systems.

Dr Dmitry Ivanov BSc(Perm), PhD(Leuven), (Lecturer), Innovative approaches to composites manufacture and modelling.

Dr Luiz Kawashita BEng, PhD(Lond), (Lecturer), Composite failure mechanisms and numerical modelling.

Dr BC(Eric) Kim BEng, MSc, PhD(KAIST), (Lecturer), Composite product design, automated fibre placement, axiomatic design, computer-aided design, experimental mechanics.

Dr Matthew O'Donnell BSc, MSc, PhD (Bristol), (Lecturer), Structural optimisation, rapid analysis techniques, non-symmetric laminates, tailoring non-linear elasticity.

Professor Ivana Partridge BA, MA(Cantab), PhD(CranIT), (IDC Director, Professor), Toughening of polymers and composites, thermoset cure, through-the-thickness reinforcement of composites.

Dr Alberto Pirrera MSc(Palermo), PhD, (Lecturer), Structural analysis, design and optimisation, shell structures, wind turbine blades, morphing, buckling and post-buckling.

Professor Kevin Potter PhD, CEng, BSc, (Professor), Composites manufacturing, reinforcement deformation, dimensional variability, defect generation.

Professor Fabrizio Scarpa Laurea, PhD(Torino), (Professor), Auxetic materials, smart materials and structures, morphing structures, multidomain design of components, damping technologies, nanostructures.

Dr Mark Schenk MSc(Delft), PhD(Cantab), (Lecturer), Structural analysis, deployable structures, morphing structures.

Dr Wendel Sebastian MA, PhD(Cantab), (Reader), Advanced composites, bridge repair, nonlinear behaviour of structures.

Dr Valeska Ting BSciTech (Victoria University of Wellington), PhD (Australian National University), (Reader), Smart, functional nanomaterial composites, porous composite materials.

Dr Carwyn Ward BEng(Hons), MRes(Swan), PhD(Bristol), (Lecturer), Composites manufacture, automation for composites, factory processes/operations, process optimisation, costs, recycling, assembly & repair.

Professor Paul Weaver BSc, PhD(N'cle), (ACCIS CDT Director, Professor), Composite plates and shells, buckling, cellular structures and morphing composites, stiffness tailoring.

Professor Michael Wisnom BSc(Lond), PhD(Bristol), MIMechE, (ACCIS CDT Chair, Director of ACCIS, Professor), High performance ductile composites, failure mechanisms, predicting the behaviour of composite structures and materials.

Dr Ben Woods BS(Maryland), MS(Maryland), PhD(Maryland), (Lecturer), Compliant morphing aerostructures, composite truss structures, novel composite manufacturing methods, adaptive structures, actuators, human powered flight, design optimisation.

How to apply
Application deadline:

See the ACCIS CDT website for current application deadline.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 38% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 55% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 6% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 5309 Email:

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science
University of Bristol
Queen's Building
University Walk
Bristol BS8 1TR


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