Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Mechanical and Design Engineering

Start dates

October and February

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Mechanical and Design Engineering  and will be supervised by Dr Antigoni Barouni. 

The work on this project could involve:

  • Experimental investigation of delamination growth
  • Development of a Finite Element (FE) model to simulate and predict the delamination on the bonded coupons
  • Experimental and numerical investigation of different bonding parameters on the performance of the joints

Adhesive bonding is now being increasingly used in all industries, from high technology industries (i.e. aeronautics, aerospace, automotive etc.) to traditional industries (i.e. construction, sports and packaging). The characterisation of the adhesive bonds’ performance and its sensitivity over certain parameters is critical for many engineering materials and components. The development of reliable designs and validated predictive models will result in more efficient and well-designed composite structures and adhesives, which in turn will benefit society in various applications starting from reliable wind turbines that provide a sustainable alternative energy source, which is the focus of this project.

This project aims at understanding the performance of adhesively bonded composites by investigating the sensitivity on bond parameters and the predictive capabilities of Finite Element modelling by means of Cohesive Zone Modelling (CZM), which is widely used to predict cracking process in materials.  The direct application of this study will be on wind turbine blades, where a typical blade consists of several areas of adhesive bonding due to its large size. In addition to the bondlines inherent to blade manufacturing process, adhesive joining is employed in repair procedures as well, which makes the purpose of this study very crucial. Experimental tests as well as numerical studies will be conducted on composite joint specimens in order to investigate parameters such as adhesive thickness and different surface treatment methods. The experimental procedure will include the manufacturing and testing of a variety of adhesively bonded coupons and the measurement of the energy release rate (GCI, GCII) of the bonds, as the main indicators of the delamination happening in the boned area. Additionally, appropriate Finite Element models will be developed in order to simulate the tests and study the sensitivity of the debonding prediction on the Cohesive Zone Modelling (CZM) law inputs. Further investigation of the debonding will be conducted using the novel imaging methods of the Zeiss Centre at the Future Technology Centre of University of Portsmouth.

This highly industry-relevant research will pave the way for industry uptake in the renewables energy sector as well as in aerospace industry. This project aligns with the Future and Emerging Technologies Research Theme of University of Portsmouth, which aims to develop ground-breaking solutions and innovations for the practical applications in wind turbine blades design.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2021/2022 fees (applicable for October 2021 and February 2022 start)

PhD and MPhil

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,500 p/a**

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,250 p/a**

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a*

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a*

PhD by Publication 

External candidates: £4,407*

Members of staff: £1,720 

All fees are subject to annual increase. If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021.

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

  • A solid background in structural mechanics and an interest in composite materials.
  • Good knowledge and experience in programming (ideally Matlab).
  • Good experience in Finite Element analysis (ideally Ansys or Abaqus).

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Antigoni Barouni ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Mechanical and Design Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

When applying please quote project code: SMDE5231021. 

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