EngD Engineering 2018/19 entry

Duration Full time 4 years
Distance Learning available
Split Site available
  • Engineering
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September


The Centre for Water Systems at the University of Exeter, in conjunction with a number of other universities, offers a professional industrial doctorate for those interested in urban water management, artificial intelligence, hydroinformatic tools or water research in general.

An EngD is a four year research degree awarded for industrially relevant research, the degree provides a more vocationally oriented approach to obtaining a doctorate in engineering commensurate with that of a PhD.

The EngD programme will allow you to receive postgraduate-level technical and transferable skills training at five leading UK universities in the water research field. This university collaboration forms the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded STREAM centre (the industrial doctorate centre for the water sector).

The idea of STREAM is to enable researchers to develop new and innovative solutions to problems encountered by engineers, chemists and operators and this industry-driven approach to research results in a degree programme that is informed by the knowledge and skills needs of the water sector.

The modules are designed to allow you to expand your basic knowledge of real-life problems and the programme gives the opportunity to gain the practical experience required by leading employers. You will have the opportunity to undertake study visits to leading overseas academic research groups and a yearly symposium enables all STREAM research engineers to present their work to sector stakeholders.

A number of four-year EPSRC-funded studentships are made available to allow doctoral-level research to be conducted while working directly with industrial partners in the water sector. Please contact the centre for details.

I am undertaking an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) through an industrial placement with the Centre for Water Systems and WRc, my parent sponsor company. The research is being run through Stream IDC, the industrial doctorate centre for the water industry.

Prior to joining the Centre for Water Systems I had spent several years working in engineering consultancy, specialising in flood risk management and flood infrastructure design. My previous academic achievements include a BSc in Engineering Geology from Cardiff University and an MSc in Environmental Water Management from the School of Water Management at Cranfield University.

My research is primarily concerned with ensuring future serviceability of drainage systems by developing new management approaches to allow for increased domestic water efficiency. As an upheaval of the current system is unfeasible, both economically and practically, there is a requirement for a review of current operational practices. The approach of the research is geared to represent not so much a radical unobtainable shift towards ‘sustainable’ management, but more an approach which will see the incremental adoption of less unsustainable practices.

The scope of the research is currently three fold and covers a short, medium and longer term approach. The initial phase of the project will be concerned with evaluating and improving the way in which sewer operation is undertaken, with particular regard to sewer service failures resulting from network choking and collapse. This initial phase has attracted water company participation with Severn Trent Water, United Utilities, Scottish Water, Northern Ireland Water and Anglian Water all signed up as project corroborators.

This initial phase will concentrate on developing a management framework through which water companies can move away from a reactive ‘management by crisis’ approach and begin a movement towards more proactive measures. Principally this will be achieved by enabling sewerage undertakers to better diagnose which parts of the network are most prone to serviceability failures along with prescribing the best course of corrective action.   

Subsequent phases of the project will be concerned with developing an industry standard hydraulic model to allow entire drainage networks to be modelled in terms of performance and level of risk. This will then subsequently lead on to the third tier of the research which will be concerned with developing new design guidance for drainage systems under increased water efficiency.

I have found the Centre for Water Systems an excellent place to conduct my project from, not just to the quality of personnel involved with the department but also the close contacts the centre maintains with industry, which for my project is of particular use. Prior to my interview at the department I had received a number of recommendations and I feel it will be of particular value to my future career to cite the Centre for Water Systems as the institution responsible for awarding me my doctorate.

Following successful completion of my EngD I have a keen desire to remain firmly embedded within the water industry and would view my ideal job as a Network Engineer for one of the UK water companies. This is before eventually going on to fulfil my inevitable fate as Chief Executive of Yorkshire Water.

Trefor Hillas, 2nd year EngD Student - “The Design and Operational Management of Sewers under Increased Water Efficiency”.

Companies undertaking the treatment of combined sewer flow often accept additional discharges from a variety of industrial sources, either delivered by tanker to their wastewater treatment works (WWTW), or discharged with consent into the sewers connected to the WWTW.  At the works a combination of physical, chemical and biological processing takes place in order to produce an effluent stream which meets legislative requirements for environmental safety.  While these processes are generally robust and effective, certain forms of contamination of the influent to a treatment works can interfere with or permanently damage processes, resulting in any combination of: a contaminated effluent; a repair bill in the order of millions of pounds; potential regulator fines and diminished public sentiment.

Adequately safeguarding against unprocessable or damaging toxic substances entering a wastewater treatment works is an essential step in avoiding polluting output, as well as minimising and stabilising operational expenditure for a wastewater treatment works.  The capability to generate forewarning and understanding of any such toxic events within the sewer network is a vital component of any such safeguard.

This STREAM Engineering Doctorate project -"Novel artificial intelligence techniques for the detection and diagnostics of toxic events in wastewater networks", aims to use Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) models to process real-time data from biological sensors within the network to generate knowledge of and suggest mitigation against such toxic events. Developed in a companion project running parallel to the research described in this report, the sensors will monitor conditions within the sewer network, and be capable of standalone diagnosis of toxic events.  In keeping with STREAM's collaborative ethos, the companion project is supervised by Cranfield University, with Sheffield University offering support to both projects, which are jointly sponsored by Severn Trent Water and United Utilities.

My background is in computer science, particularly artificial intelligence and data processing using neural networks, but the taught elements of my doctorate have given me an excellent understanding of topics relevant to all aspects of water and wastewater, and act as a solid base for my research.

Exeter's reputation for international level research, coupled with the Centre for Water System's enthusiastic approach to using cutting edge developments in A.I. and other hydroinformatics techniques were a major influence on my decision to undertake this research, as well as their collaborative approach and industrial connections.  Additionally, having supervisors who are leaders in their fields, combining experience and knowledge of all areas I am likely to touch on gives me the confidence to push the boundaries and generate effective, meaningful research.  Given that I am based at Severn Trent's HQ in Coventry, almost 200 miles from campus, I am very pleased with the amount of support I am getting from my primary supervisor, who makes every effort to be available by phone, email and video call, as well as by the more traditional supervisor meeting.  Being directly placed with an industrial partner, and having access to their data and infrastructure is enormously helpful, and the experience will certainly add to my employability, both in industry or academia, when my research is complete.

I would recommend Exeter to anyone who is serious about their research and wants access to the best environment in which to excel and really push the boundaries. 

Anthony Watts, EngD Engineering - "Novel artificial intelligence techniques for the detection and diagnostics of toxic events in wastewater networks".

Programme structure 2018/19

The STREAM programme comprises three components leading to the award of an Engineering Doctorate degree

  • Acquisition of advanced technical skills through attendance at Masters level training courses
  • Tuition in the competencies and abilities expected of senior engineers through a Transferable Skills and Engineering Leadership (TSEL) component
  • Doctoral level research project(s).

Technical skills

Year 1

Cranfield (Oct – Dec)

  • Introduction to the water sector
  • Water and wastewater treatment principles
  • Process science and engineering
  • Principles of hydraulics and water distribution
  • Engineering sustainability
  • Asset stewardship
  • Group design project

Years 2 and 3

At least one additional technical module to be taken at any partner university in each of Years 2 and 3.

  • At Exeter, modules may be taken from MSc Water Management

Transferable skills & Engineering Leadership

Year 1


  • Philosophy of science
  • Research methods and research design
  • Creativity and design
  • Engineering past, present and future
  • Health and Safety standards


  • Project management for research
  • Role of research in supporting business functions
  • Research ethics
  • Basic presentational, writing and meetings skills
  • Financial management

Year 2


  • Personal effectiveness and time management
  • Team working and management
  • Knowledge transfer and research exploitation
  • Project costing
  • Business risk

Year 3


  • Patenting and IPR
  • Science communication
  • Negotiation and influencing skills
  • Writing a business case for investment
  • Supervision skills

Year 4


  • Thesis & Viva preparation
  • Career planning & development
  • Entrepreneurship & leadership skills
  • Writing grant and funding bids
  • Interview and interviewing skills

Research projects

Year 1

From January to September

Years 2 and 3

All year

Year 3

October to March - then thesis write up

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

The STREAM programme comprises three components leading to the award of an Engineering Doctorate degree:

  • Acquisition of advanced technical skills through attendance at Masters level training courses
  • Tuition in the competencies and abilities expected of senior engineers through a Transferable Skills and Engineering Leadership (TSEL) component
  • Doctoral level research project(s).

Each new cohort of STREAM research engineers spend the first three months of their programme from October to December attending taught modules at Cranfield. Following this they join their sponsoring organisation to begin work on their research projects.Research engineers are subsequently able to attend Masters level technical modules at any of the STREAM partner institutions.

Specific technical skills training requirements reflect student backgrounds, employer research needs and career development goals. Research engineers, in consultation with their supervisors, assess their technical skills requirements and plan their attendance at additional modules / courses during the progress meetings held in December and July each year.

Research engineer performance on all three elements of the programme (Advanced Technical Skills, TSEL, and research) is formally evaluated. Research engineers are also required to demonstrate progress in communication skills through regular assessed presentations (e.g. during the Symposium and Challenge Week). Midstage awards are available for those research engineers who, for whatever reason, withdraw from the programme early. All awards are conferred by the university at which the research engineer is registered. All student appeals are handled by the student’s host institution.


As a stream Research Engineer you will acquire advanced technical skills through masters level training, develop the transferable skills competencies & engineering leadership qualities expected of senior engineers, and undertake doctoral level research with an industrial sponsor.

The programme’s structure and content are informed by the knowledge and skills needs of the water sector with our Research Engineers tackling industry driven research agendas.

You can also expect to graduate from the programme with the intellectual tools and interdisciplinary training to succeed in the global water career market.

Entry requirements 2018/19

The programme is open to:

  • UK citizens;
  • EU citizens who have studied or been employed in the UK for the past three years;
  • overseas (non-UK, non-EU) citizens who have been employed in the UK for the past three years. 

You should have at least a 2:1 Honours degree in engineering or science or have an appropriate MSc qualification. If English is not your first language, you may be required to take English language and other tests as decided by the centre prior to an offer being made.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding 2018/19

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time
  • International: £23,000 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Fees and funding

There are research studentships available from the STREAM to undertake an EngD at Exeter. Please contact the centre for information.

There are also a number of University schemes, including Masters scholarships for international students. Please see our funding webpages for details. Funding opportunities are subject to change, so for the latest information we recommend searching our funding database.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2018.

Contact us

Further information

Full details about postgraduate study and research can be found on the Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences website.

Contact us

Postgraduate Research Admissions
Phone: +44 (0) 1392 722730
WebEnquire online

Research areas

Modern urban water management is a very complex process. It consists of various aspects of Engineering, Economics, Bio-chemistry, Sociology and much more. The idea of stream is to enable researchers to develop new and innovative solutions to problems encountered by engineers, chemists and operators. Students can expect to spend around 75% of their time on a research option chosen from seven areas of expertise:

Asset management

The main aim of stream research is to develop a reliable and fully-functional asset management strategy at two levels: performance and specific aspects of asset management.
We believe, that water management should be implemented within an environment consisting of near real-time network control and operational management on a global scale. We hope that our research will extend the range of available technologies, techniques and services used for capturing, modelling and managing knowledge in all aspects of water asset management.

Inlets, outlets and interactions

The behaviour of sewage and potable water systems infrastructure under various circumstances plays a very important part in urban water management. Through our research we aim to improve our understanding of all aspects of how ancillary systems perform. This includes analysis of interactions between flow and quality of sewage and water distribution networks. It also covers the relations between the underground sewerage system and its effects on ground surface flows in case of flood events.

Instrumentations and control

Reliable water management apparatuses are essential for providing the best possible services to everyone within water distribution network. As a part of stream, we aim to design new models and techniques to supply water companies with more effective and robust instrumentation and control technologies.

Potable water

Potable water research is related to the distribution systems, in both underground and surface pipe networks. There are a wide range of research possibilities because of the number of aspects related to pipe networks and distribution systems. Potable water studies mostly concentrate on providing practical knowledge and solutions for asset management and performance modelling, through artificial intelligence and online modelling up to water quality interactions and transformations and much more.

Sewer processes

Investigation of processes occurring inside the sewage networks extends the knowledge about deposition, behaviour and erosion of sewer sediments. Research also includes study of biofilm development and degradation ability of the bacterial consortium.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS)

The sustainable drainage systems offer a new approach to drainage systems by simulating natural environments and techniques instead of using conventional pipes to allow excess water flow to the rivers. The main focus of research in this area is to determine the best ways of using SUDS to minimize flooding issues. It also concentrates on improving performance of sustainable drainage systems, especially green roofs, and everyday social and technical impact of the use of SUDS in a new housing development. Read more...


The water sector in the UK is entering a particularly challenging period over the next decade. Rising population, changes in demographic structure and the emerging threat of climate change mean the managed water cycle will be stretched to the limit.

In response to this challenge, a new type of engineering leader is required to help radically overhaul our current urban water systems and make them fit-for-purpose into the 21st century. We intend to address this need by developing well-qualified, independent-thinking research engineers through our new Industrial Doctoral Centre STREAM, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and companies who sponsor research projects.

The STREAM programme is delivered by five UK academic centres of excellence in water science and engineering in the UK. Coordinated by Cranfield University and including Imperial College London and the universities of Sheffield, Newcastle, and Exeter, the programme enables talented researchers to develop their skills and careers, while obtaining an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) degree.

The STREAM EngD handbook provides more information about the programme.

The main features offered by the STREAM programme are:

  • Fees plus enhanced stipend for well qualified UK students
  • Access to masters level training at five leading universities
  • Opportunity to develop and deliver a leading contribution to scientific research
  • Strong career development programme targeted at producing future engineering leaders
  • Challenge Week held in July each year including advanced transferable skills training, guest lectures from leading industrialists and scientists, design and problem solving challenges
  • Yearly symposium held in December each year at which all STREAM Research Engineers present their work to sector stakeholders
  • Opportunities to present papers at conferences and author academic journal papers
  • Free membership of the International Water Association and one other professional institution for four years
  • Opportunities to undertake study visits to leading overseas academic research groups