What works in complex Systems of Systems (SoS) environments? PhD

Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Entry requirements:
3 years
not available
Reference number:
Start date:
01 October 2018
Is funding available?
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
09 March 2018



in the UK for research quality

REF 2014


in the UK for Mechanical Engineering

The Complete University Guide 2018


of 2 Queen's Anniversary Prizes


Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. 

Project detail

The 21st Century presents tough global/societal challenges. The Engineering Systems of Systems research group aims to seek solutions to these challenges through the study and advancement of complex Systems of Systems (SoS) engineering and the socio-technical systems that shape our world.

This studentship is focused on the novel application of a theory-driven realist evaluative research approach to evidence ‘what works’ in SoS environments, specifically those comprising software and data-intensive systems often with ‘smart’ connected components. Evidencing what works (or does not work) and more importantly why, is particularly challenging for SoS researchers due to; the pace of technological change, the timing of implementation chains, evolving integration architectures and the changing socio-technical and socio-economic contexts that these developments are situated in.

The objective is to adapt existing systems engineering verification and validation techniques and blend these with the realist method. This will enable the evaluation of the dynamics of interdependent and highly complex engineered/digital systems within wider socio-technical systems, juxtaposed with the unpredictability of human behaviour. The aim is to evidence the critical contextual and human factors that lead to unanticipated effects at the SoS level and to provide real-world recommendations.

There is opportunity for the successful candidate to carry out this research in a variety of application domains, for example; smart systems within our homes and work places, urban systems within cities, transportation, healthcare, emergency services, manufacturing, retail, defence or even exploration. The over-arching aim is to progress our understanding of ‘what works, for whom, in which contexts and why’ in complex SoS, to solve real-world problems and provide answers to hitherto misunderstood policy questions in grand challenge domains.


Primary supervisor: Dr Melanie King

Secondary supervisor: TBC

Find out more

For further project details email Melanie King or register your interest and ask us a question.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in engineering, computer science or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in these subjects would also be an advantage.

Applicants must meet the minimum English Language requirements, details available on the website.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

Please note that these studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who have applied to this project and/or the following 30projects that have been prioritised for funding; job advert ref: WS01 – WS30

If awarded, each 3 year studentship will provide a tax-free stipend of £14,786 p.a ( provisional), plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (currently £4,262 p.a). While we welcome applications from non EU nationals, please be advised that due to funding restrictions it will only be possible to fund the tuition fees at the international rate and no stipend will be available. Successful candidates will be notified by 30th April 2018.

How to apply

All applications should be made online.  Under programme name, select Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering 

Please quote reference number: WS13

Application details

Reference number:  WS13
Start date: 01 October 2018
Application deadline: 09 March 2018