Architecture Built Environment & Planning - Research
100% of our research environment has been judged as being conducive to producing research of world-leading or internationally excellent quality and enabling outstanding impact in terms of its vitality and sustainability. 100% of our research impacts have made exceptional and very considerable impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. The dynamic research culture within the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment strives to support PhD researchers to ensure a positive and progressive experience for all researchers within the School.
We offer our PhD researchers excellent training support and research facilities to facilitate research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality. The 2021 PRES returned excellent results with an overall PhD researcher satisfaction rate of 88%, making Ulster 2nd in the UK for PhD researcher satisfaction and professional development and resources. PhD researchers within the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment are delighted with the quality of their supervision and the supportive school research environment.
We are the No 1 University in Northern Ireland for research in Architecture and the Built Environment and we have Ranked 8th overall in the UK for research power.
Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST)
Research on Property and Planning (RPP)
Hydrogen Safety Engineering (HySAFER)
Fire Safety Engineering Research and Technology (FireSERT)
Studies Allied to Built Environment Research (SABER)
Architecture Research Group (ARG)
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:
Thermal Energy Storage
Advanced Heat Pumps
Techno-Economic Assessment of New Power Plants
Assessment of Future Energy Demands
Biomass and Bioenergy
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
Corporate Real Estate
Property Investment and Finance
Planning Sustainability and Development
Modernisation and Reform of Planning Legislation
Planning Policy and Processes
including Community Engagement
Marine Spatial Planning
Infrastructure and City Resilience
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.
Architecture Research Group:
Established in early 2021, the Architecture Research Group (ARG) provides multidisciplinary research through four diverse research clusters:
(Net) Zero Emission Buildings and Neighbourhoods;
(Hidden Barriers and Divisive Architecture;
Drawing: methodology, making and media; and
Practise Based Research.
Our diverse range of design-led research clusters span design, arts and humanities, social and environmental science, practice and architectural technology.
The Architecture Research Group utilises highly innovative methods to deliver excellence in teaching, research and best practice development.
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.
Get additional information for International applicants at https://www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/apply/international-students
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.
Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.
How to Apply
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.
Get 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 (see "Application Date Weblink" below).
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system (see "Application Weblink").
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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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.