Aura CDT & ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship: Enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure


Funded PG Dip and PhD


4 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

20 June 2021

About this project

Despite its importance to many geophysical systems, including the atmosphere and the world’s oceans, there remain significant open challenges to our fundamental understanding of turbulent stratified flows. Whilst offshore wind developments to-date have predominately been constructed in well-mixed unstratified coastal waters, growth of the offshore wind sector now requires the first ever large-scale industrialisation of stratified shelf seas. Sector growth and development in these new environments is necessary to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero carbon commitments, yet the impact of offshore wind infrastructure, a source of anthropogenic mixing to stratified shelf seas, has not yet been quantified.

Stratification is a critical system control in shelf seas. Vertical density variations act to suppress vertical transport of energy, nutrients, CO2, heat, salinity, and sediment. Stratification is therefore crucial to both the physics and ecosystems of shelf seas, and the potential impact of anthropogenic mixing is significant. In addition, turbulent mixing of flow past infrastructure imposes constant drag forces on foundations which will vary in stratified waters. Understanding the impact of stratification on mixing from, and hydrodynamic loading of, offshore renewable energy structures is needed to inform Environmental Impact Assessments as well as future fixed and floating platform designs. It is vital that environment-engineering based solutions are developed now to enable sustainable and rapid large-scale expansion of offshore renewable energy into stratified shelf seas.

New understanding of turbulent mixing in stratified flow past infrastructure is required to aid both future design and to quantify environmental impact, from single turbine to array scale. To address these challenges the successful candidate will develop local scale oceanographic computational fluid dynamic models of turbulent mixing in offshore windfarms. Models will be used to quantify environmental impact, and imposed loads from stratified flow past different infrastructure.

This PhD will address three key research questions:

  • How does wind turbine infrastructure affect density stratification and material transport?
  • What role does density stratification have on hydrodynamic loading of offshore wind infrastructure?
  • Can the influence of offshore wind infrastructure on density stratification be mitigated against through novel foundation design?

These research questions, critical to enabling growth of the offshore wind sector, will be addressed using state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics including high-fidelity Large Eddy Simulations.

The PhD is supported by the EPSRC-NERC Aura Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. A 4-year taught and research industry-sponsored Scholarship is offered.

The post is available from September 2021 as a full-time position. You will join Cohort 3 of the Aura CDT in Hull, in the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary – the global centre for research, innovation and development for the sector. Initially, you will study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment, providing an overview to the sector. The taught programme will be followed by the 3-year PhD research programme, which will help address sector needs to enable ORE expansion into deeper stratified waters.

Apply now

To apply for this Aura CDT / ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship, please complete the online form accessed from the links below (please ensure you choose the appropriate link for full-time or part-time study):

Apply here for a full-time place on the Aura CDT / ORE Catapult enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure scholarship

Apply here for a part-time place on the Aura CDT / ORE Catapult enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure scholarship

For further advice on making an application, please see the Aura CDT website

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help. 

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the college is here to help you achieve your potential. 

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Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain the slavery.

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This full-time PhD Scholarship will include fees at the ‘Home/EU/International' student rate and maintenance (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) for four years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Entry requirements

If you have received a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Engineering, Mathematics, physical oceanography or a background in computational fluid dynamics, we would like to hear from you.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.

Please contact for further guidance or questions.


How to Apply

Please apply online which enables you to track the progress of your application and upload supporting documents.


Apply here for a full-time place on the Aura CDT / ORE Catapult Enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure Scholarship


Apply here for a part-time place on the Aura CDT / ORE Catapult Enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure Scholarship


With your application, you need to upload copies of the following supporting evidence:

  • complete transcripts (and final degree certificate(s) where possible). If your qualification documents are not in English, you will need to supply copies of your original language documents as well as their official translation into English.
  • current Curriculum Vitae.
  • personal statement (please see guidance below on what you need to include in your statement).

Guidance on completing your personal statement

Your personal statement should be around 2 pages long. In your statement you should highlight:

  • your interest in the Aura CDT and the research proposal and how it fits with your career aspirations
  • how your previous study links with the Aura CDT and the research proposal
  • why you have an interest in offshore wind and the environment, particularly if your background is in an academic discipline not included in the list above
  • relevant work experience or other experience relevant to the Aura CDT
  • anything else you would like to tell us about yourself that makes you a great candidate.

Please also describe:

  • any relevant research experience (such as a project completed during a previous degree)
  • any academic work you have published or which is awaiting publication including venue/s
  • why you believe you are the best candidate to study with the Aura CDT.

International students must tell us about all prior UK study (whether completed/passed or not, including any short courses).