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PhD Scholarship: Development of an Innovative Composite Steel and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Floor System

University of Warwick – School of Engineering

Qualification: Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Start date: 1st April 2024

Funding for: 3.5 years

Supervisor: Professor Stephen Hicks

Project Description:

Composite steel and concrete floors account for over 65.9% of the multi-storey office market in the UK. The replacement of traditional steel and concrete composite slabs with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels is a logical step to reduce the embodied carbon of the floor system and sequester carbon within the structure itself. WSP are currently working with Prof. Stephen Hicks on the development of a new composite steel and CLT floor system, which is supported by the UK Forestry Commission through the Wood into Management (WiM) Forestry Innovation Fund initiative. The results from this work demonstrate that the proposed floor system will achieve a 40% saving in mass (thereby decreasing the environmental impact by reducing foundations), as well as savings in the embodied carbon of nearly 25% compared to traditional composite floors. To demonstrate the performance of this technology at full-scale, a 12 m span composite steel and CLT beam is to be load tested to destruction at the University of Warwick. However, to enable designers to confidently specify such floors, further research is required.

Through generous support from WSP UK Ltd, the objective of this project is to develop design rules for composite steel and CLT beams in order that this technology can be exploited in practice. This research will investigate and develop theoretical models for predicting the creep and shrinkage deformations of the floor under short- and long-term loading defined in the European design standard EN 1990. As well as serviceability limit state deformations, the sensitivity of the key variables that affect the bending resistance and rotation capacity of composite steel and CLT beams at the ultimate limit state will be studied within the project. The research will include tests on full-scale specimens, supplemented by numerical analyses. It is planned that the results from this research will form the basis for industry-standard design guides, which may be incorporated within the next generation of the structural Eurocodes.


The award will cover the tuition fees at the UK rate £4,712, plus a tax-free stipend of £18,622 per annum for 3.5 years of full-time study. Non-UK students can apply but will have to personally fund the difference between the UK (Home) rate and the overseas rate.


The candidate should have a good 2.1 Bachelors, or Masters degree in Civil and Structural Engineering, or equivalent. This project will suit those with a keen interest in numerical modelling and testing of structures. Prior knowledge of finite element methods and programming (e.g. C++, Python, or MATLAB) is desirable but not mandatory

How to apply:

Candidates should submit a formal application, details of how to do so can be found here 

Application form 'Course search':

Department: School of Engineering

Academic Year: 2023/24

Type of Course: Postgraduate Research

  • Engineering (MPhil/PhD) (P-H1Q2)

In the application form funding section, enter: Source: SJH

The University of Warwick provides an inclusive working and learning environment, recognising and respecting every individual’s differences. We welcome applications from individuals who identify with any of the protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010.