This project builds on the successful research project completed by Ulster in collaboration with Highways England and AECOM Innovation in High Speed Friction Measurement.  This highlighted that past research in this arena has delivered disparate results, with researchers focussing on their respective areas of expertise, be it vehicular or infrastructural. Both fields rarely overlapped, and so never gave a joined-up picture particularly at motorway speeds.  The aim therefore of this PhD thesis is to explore, evaluate and critically appraise the fundamental factors that hold a vehicle to the road - to understand the fundamental scientific physical principles that govern the relationship and interaction between a vehicle tyre and the surface of a paved road. The first objective is to improve the understanding of the relationship between a vehicle tyre, in motion and in a skid, with the pavement it is in contact with.   The relationship will then be modelled in a realistic way which will benefit the highways agencies and ultimately the users of the strategic highway networks. It is anticipated that vehicle data (e.g. ABS) will be explored to assess the application of the model and how it might be used to map the condition of the strategic highway networks. The project will require field and laboratory studies including friction measurement, 3-dimensional modelling and analysis and spatial mapping.  All resources required for completion of the project are available, though are likely to evolve as the project develops.

Opportunities exist for collaboration with national roads authorities including Transport Northern Ireland (TNI), Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Highways England (HE) and the tyre, aggregates, bitumen and asphalt industries.

A relevant postgraduate qualification will be an advantage.

The skills required will include a working knowledge of a broad range of standard software packages, an ability to analyses digital data and an ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing.

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to:

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University