Newcastle University Forshaw PhD Studentship in Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2023

PhD Studentship: In Electrical and Electronic Engineering: Human-Systems Integration for Rail Freight

Newcastle University

Qualification Type:PhD
Location:Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for:UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount:£17,668 (2022-23 UKRI rate)
Hours:Full Time
Placed On:21st December 2022
Closes:3rd February 2023

Award Summary

100% fees covered, and a minimum tax-free annual living allowance of £17,668 (2022-23 UKRI rate)


Rail Freight is key to decarbonisation and the economy. However, there are human performance risks in rail freight – safety risks to staff, and to the safe operation of freight on the rail network. Issues can arise from the design of rolling stock, operational processes in the yard, and the human element of rolling stock maintenance. Operations can also be a source of musculoskeletal risk.

Newcastle University is working with the freight sector to research risks and identify solutions. The aim of this PhD is to understand human performance risks in rail freight generated by engineered systems such as rolling stock wagon design, along with the impact of change due to innovation (e.g. European Traffic Control System, new freight planning tools) or climate, and how people working in freight are affected by those risks.

Activities will include

  • Observe and analyse freight preparation and maintenance activities
  • Perform physical ergonomics analysis of freight preparation tasks
  • Analyse data on incidents, faults, operations and assets
  • Develop new knowledge and systems models of human performance in rail freight.
  • Propose design solutions (e.g. to the redesign of rolling stock components to minimise physical ergonomics risk)

This ground-breaking PhD will deliver safer, better performance freight, giving you excellent exposure to the transport sector and an understanding of the role of people in safe freight delivery. You will have access to key rail stakeholders such as Network Rail, Rail Safety and Standards Board, and freight operators, with opportunities for relevant field work.

Number Of Awards


Start Date


Award Duration

3.5 years





Dr David Golightly;

Prof Roberto Palacin

Eligibility Criteria


  • A very good first degree (2.1 or higher, or equivalent) in engineering, or science, including psychology with an emphasis on HCI or occupational psychology
  • Good writing and communication skills; strong interpersonal skills to conduct interviews and observation


  • Knowledge of rail systems and / or rolling stock
  • Knowledge of human factors / ergonomics / user-centred design methodology
  • Knowledge of ICT relevant to transport systems and transport planning

Home and international applicants (inc. EU) are welcome to apply and if successful will receive a full studentship.

Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills. International applicants may require ATAS (Academic Technology Approval System) clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:

  • Search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8060F
  • Research Area: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Select PhD Electrical and Electronic Engineering (full time) – Electrical and Electronic Engineering’ as the programme of study

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section:

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) – upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form
  • The studentship code ENG102 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field
  • When prompted for how you are providing your research proposal – select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert. You do not need to upload a research proposal.

Contact Details

Dr David Golightly


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