The Belfast School of Architecture and Built Environment is Ulster University’s principal focus for research activities relating to the sustainable design and development, management, regulation and conservation of the built environment. The quality of the research in the Built Environment was recognised as 100% world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of the research environment and research impact in REF2014. The main areas of research activity are carried out within distinct research groups, which also collaborate in joint research activities. The Recognised Research Groupings within the Unit of Assessment are:
- Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology Centre (FireSERT)
- Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST)
- Centre for Research on Property and Planning (RPP)
- Hydrogen Safety Engineering and Research (HySAFER)
- Studies Allied to Built Environment Research (SABER)
Postgraduate research opportunities are available within each research group and within the School, in the areas of Architecture, Built Environment, Energy, Civil Engineering, Fire Engineering, Highway Engineering, Hydrogen Safety Engineering, Construction, Property, Real Estate, Planning, Housing and Environmental Health.
Based on both the Belfast campus and the Jordanstown campus, the Belfast School of Architecture and Built Environment seeks to provide its research students with a lively and stimulating environment for their studies. Jordanstown offers extensive experimental laboratory research facilities, established over many years of investment. These laboratories are complemented by high end computational facilities, and are available within each of the research centres. The fire research building provides a unique series of laboratories for the study of fire safety engineering science.
Research facilities for the Centre for Sustainable Technologies provide a state of the art environment for the study of energy systems and markets, renewable energies and energy technologies. There is a strong practical focus on the delivery of low carbon building solutions with technical performance and social acceptance being tested on instrumented houses. The Belfast campus offers Architecture studio research based concepts that link both the technical aspects of the School at Jordanstown and close interactions with the neighbouring Belfast School of Art.
All of the research groups have active involvement in both national and international programmes with networks involving a wide range of visiting researchers and scholars.
Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology Centre (FireSERT)
The Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology Centre (FireSERT) seeks to improve building practices and reduce the human and economic costs of unwanted fires.
The “state of the art” infrastructure and equipment at FireSERT is making a major contribution to the study of how fires develop, how structures respond to fire, how people react to fire and how to model fire and fire related phenomena including building evacuation. FireSERT being a resource for fire education and fire research throughout Europe and the World provides the research infrastructure for the construction and allied industries to produce cost effective performance based buildings without compromising safety, to assist with the development and utilisation of new constructional fire safety components whilst providing independent views on fire safety regulatory issues to government and other bodies.
Research in FireSERT is focused on the areas of Fire Dynamics and Materials, Structural Fire Engineering and protection, Fire Modelling and Human Behaviour in Fire.
Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST)
The Centre for Sustainable Technologies carries out multi-disciplinary research to create, develop, improve, demonstrate and evaluate emerging, existing and alternative sustainable renewable energy, building design, construction materials and environmental modification technologies. Extensive computational facilities and well equipped laboratories enable research to be undertaken at the forefront of the field.
CST undertakes both fundamental and applied research in the areas of: Advanced Glazing, Thermal Energy Storage, Advanced Heat Pumps, Techno-Economic Assessment of New Power Plants, Assessment of Future Energy Demands, Biomass and Bioenergy, Solar Thermal and PV Systems.
Centre for Research on Property and Planning (RPP)
The Centre for Research on Property and Planning focuses upon the evaluation of property market performance, econometric analysis, real estate finance and investment decision-making, computer-assisted valuation models, the reform and modernisation of planning policy, strategic spatial planning and the application of GIS, land use planning and urban sustainability, the appraisal of urban regeneration initiatives, housing and land use policies, systems of land and property taxation and facilities management.
RPP undertakes research in the following areas: Commercial Property Market Analysis, Valuation, Housing, Property Taxation, Corporate Real Estate, Property Investment and Finance, Urban Regeneration, Planning Sustainability and Development, Modernisation and Reform of Planning Legislation, Planning Policy and Processes, including Community Engagement, Community Planning, Civic Leadership, Marine Spatial Planning, Infrastructure Investment, Infrastructure and City Resilience and Urban Security.
Hydrogen Safety Engineering and Research (HySAFER)
The HySAFER Centre is an international team of researchers working in an emerging multi-disciplinary area of hydrogen safety science and engineering. The thrust in research is on theoretical and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies, and close collaboration with centres of excellence in experimental hydrogen safety research around the globe.
Research topics include but not limited to hydrogen under-expanded jets, dispersion in the open atmosphere and enclosures, spontaneous ignition of sudden hydrogen releases into air, under-ventilated jet fires and self- extinction phenomena, interaction between fires and structures, coherent deflagrations, large scale non-uniform deflagrations and transition from deflagration-to-detonation, blast waves and fireball from hydrogen storage tank rupture in a fire, thermal protection of high-pressure hydrogen storage, safety of liquified hydrogen, physical model and protocol for hydrogen refuelling, safety of hydrogen vehicles in confined structures like tunnels and car parking, etc. The impact is mainly through inclusion of results of pre-normative research are included into Regulations, Codes and Standards (RCS) through representation of HySAFER members in relevant experts group, including UN GTR#13 IWG SGS, ISO TC197, CEN/CLC/TC6. HySAFER is active in IEA HIA Task 37, Chairs Educational Committee of the International Association for Hydrogen Safety, represented in European Hydrogen Safety Panel and RCS Strategy Coordination Group of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, etc.
Studies Allied to Built Environment Research (SABER)
SABER was formed in 2015 to stimulate a research environment across a range of areas within the Built Environment. Areas of research include BIM, bridge scour, built environment education, concrete, engineered timber performance, environmental health, extreme weather, geopolymer, geotechnics, health and safety, hydraulics food security, nano / micro / macro-scale material characterisation, noise impacts procurement, resilience of critical infrastructure, road surface materials, tribology, sustainability, waste water and sewerage treatment. SABER members are actively developing networking and opportunities for joint research proposals and publications with universities around the world.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
Additional information for International applicants may be found here.
English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.
Full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found here.
Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.
Fees and funding
Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.
To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies. Full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application, is available here.
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
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