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PhD Research Projects: Student Stories

Research Degrees

At NTU, we’re proud of the world-class research our PhD students undertake, seeking to innovate and providing solutions to real-life issues. Our work holds direct relevance to the needs of society, industry and commerce. Using our extensive resources and expertise, we’re helping to guide and inspire the next generation of architects, designers, property developers and civil engineers.

Our PhD courses at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment offer the opportunity to carry out a significant body of research, in several disciplines relating to areas such as Architectural Design, Interior Architecture, Product Design, Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Property Development.

Our PhD routes are suitable for professionals working in a related industry; we offer a part-time study route, enabling you to fit study around employment. These are also suitable for high-achieving honours graduates, enabling those who complete an undergraduate qualification to pursue a route into postgraduate research.

PhD Projects

Find out more about the ground-breaking work our PhD students are undertaking, helping to make the lives of people safer, simpler and easier through housing, technology and construction. Some of our PhD projects include intelligent buildings for the over-60's, innovative policies to address climate change and fuel poverty, and using machine-based learning to help identify Parkinson's disease in potential patients.

Ghayth Almahadin – Identifying Parkinson’s disease objectively through tremor sensing and machine based learning

Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that is the second most-common progressive illness, affects 145K people in the UK. The assessment for diagnosing the disease is subjective to a clinician’s opinion – with no agreement on a reliable and cost-effective device to assess tremors. Ghayth has created a tremor-sensing device worn by patients, which could help to objectively assess the tremor symptom, therefore giving a more sound evaluation of a patient’s diagnosis.

Construction site

Falah Alharbi - Assessing and solving delay factors in the Housing and Construction industries

Delays in construction are some of the biggest issues faced by the housing and construction industries, and contribute to direct and indirect impacts on overall budgets, timing and the quality of projects. Falah Alharbi has therefore begun to develop a framework to help identify and analyse these delay factors, in collaboration with Dr Anton Ianakiev a Finite Element Modelling Reader and Lecturer on the undergraduate Civil Engineering Bsc course. This could result in higher quality work, effective management methods for key business owners and industry stakeholders, and the potential to eradicate possible delays for construction industry as a whole.

Nottingham City Housing

Giorgio Cucca - Zero Energy Homes; the development of sustainable and cost-effective retrofitting for buildings

The research community is showing an increasing interest in UK building’s energy performance, because of the impact the building sector has on energy demand. This, combined with the fact that the replacement rate of existing buildings to new buildings in the UK is very low, suggests 80% of actual building stock will still be occupied by 2050.

The aim of Giorgio's research is to optimise the management of domestic, multi-element energy generation – which could lead to the development of sustainable and cost effective retrofitting for existing buildings.The city of Nottingham is part of the REMOURBAN H2020 project, aiming to develop a sustainable urban regeneration - a total of seven houses and three bungalows are undergoing this refurbishment as part of the project.

Children standing in a line at football training

Florence Nwankwo - Decreasing childhood obesity levels through design-led intervention

Worldwide childhood obesity levels are increasing – with around 50 million boys and 70 million girls classified as obese. Florence Nwankwo has conducted a study into design-led intervention, to help promote physical activity in the home. A white box is placed in the home; and the child is expected to break up their sitting time by involving in a form of physical activity to gain TV allowance.

Overall, TV time significantly reduced during the pilot testing and the device enhanced participant's activity. Looking to the future, Florence hopes the effectiveness of the intervention will be tested on a wider scale – as there is significant evidence that it may help to reduce sedentary behaviour in children.

Innovative Systems for the Delivery of Low-Temperature District Heating in Nottingham

Munya Kucherera - Addressing fuel poverty and climate change throughout the UK with analyses of government policy

Millions of households throughout the UK struggle to afford adequate warmth in the winter months, affecting people’s health and therefore costing the NHS billions every year. 20% of winter deaths recorded in 2014-2015 were of a result of cold homes, something that could have been avoided if policy measures were set in place. The aim of this research project is to explore circumstances surrounding the uptake of policy measures to alleviate fuel poverty and mitigate climate change. In line with this, the UK government aims to ensure people have access to adequate, reliable and clean energy at a low cost – furthermore, the government aimed to alleviate fuel poverty (in which households spend more than 10% of their income on fuel) by 2016.

Student volunteering with the elderly

Sherna Salim - Improving the health and well-being of the over-60’s through the development on of an ‘intelligent building’

The World Health Organisation has predicted that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world's over 60’s will have nearly doubled to 22%. Therefore, technology can be used to both help aging persons live independently, and to improve overall energy performance. The aim of Sherna's research project is to build an innovative system, meeting specific challenges of existing buildings to provide the best living experience with maximum energy efficiency.

The system will help to provide an energy efficiency analysis, to assist in the development of an intelligent building, whilst monitoring the health and well-being of the occupant. This will provide information about how and where energy is used, and offer solutions for potential energy saving opportunities, by conducting assessments on a continuous basis.

Nigerian children walking down a road

Daminabo Pokubo - Investigating renewable energy development, utilisation and policies throughout Nigeria

Around 60% of Nigerians currently lack access to electricity and clean cooking fuels, due to a high reliance of fossil and solid fuels throughout the country, which constitutes enormous environmental and health challenges for the population. Research studies reveal that access to clean, modern energy and efficient energy infrastructures constitutes as a major challenge to economies.This is a particularly severe challenge for many developing countries in sub - Saharan Africa such as Nigeria.

The aim of this project is to develop a sustainable framework for practical development and utilisation of renewable energy technologies, and the implementation of renewable energy policies in Nigeria. The preliminary data set conducted throughout revealed that renewable energy could immensely contribute towards mitigation of Nigeria’s energy and environmental challenges, ensuring energy security for the Nigerian economy.

Blenhiem kitchen

Analysis of the Longer Lasting White Goods Industry

In spite of a sustained reduction in UK production emissions, growing consumption levels could see UK carbon emissions increase. Activities of production and consumption affected by the ‘throwaway society’ have caused huge environmental, societal and economic concerns, and therefore form a significant case for the research into product longevity.

There is currently a lack of clarity with regards to how quality is conceptualised in products. This research will explore the formation of quality in life-management stages of premium products and analyse the role of business strategies in increasing the uptake of longer lasting products. The project also aims to seek out the strategies of companies and assess how they affect the uptake of premium range products for their consumers.

Find out more about Research Degrees at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment.

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