Postgraduate research opportunities

Integrated Model Based Engineering in Naval Ships Design

Working with BAE Systems Maritime, who operate several of the small number of shipyards in the world capable of designing and manufacturing naval ships and submarines, provides a rare insight into a globally leading company, whilst also allowing your research to make a difference.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


1 June 2018


11 March 2019


36 months


The studentships are available for UK, EU and International* students, who possess or are about to obtain a first class or 2.1 BEng (Honours), MEng or MSc degree, or equivalent EU/International qualification, in a relevant physical sciences or engineering discipline.

*International students applying must be able to provide evidence and pay the difference between the UK Home Fee and International Fee.

Individuals interested in this project should email, along with the title of project you are applying for and attach your most up-to-date cv.

Project Details

Are you looking for a PhD with a strong industrial component?

Modern naval ships are generally accepted to be in the top 3 most complex product systems that the human race has ever created (along with space systems and submarines).  Constant innovation in product technologies, design software and high powered computing continue to increase the demand on the design teams who deliver them.  This research is part of a portfolio of work inspired by BAE Systems need to continue to design and develop world leading complex products.

Some of the functions that a ship must deliver will not change, such as keeping afloat and moving rapidly across deep blue water, but other aspects of effect are much more fluid, like being able to conduct the dangerous task of mine-hunting by drone instead of putting people in-harms-way.  This has an echo in the design process, where some of the performance assurance models used are old as the earliest systems engineering practice and the gradual accumulation of digital design practices (such as 3D CAD spatial design) creates a web of indispensable design models to keep watch over the different aspects under design. The latest wave of model-based engineering frameworks and simulation integration strategies presents huge opportunities to teams that can successfully reach out and apply them to their unique design activity.

This research aims to develop a new integrative architecture to enable a large multi-discipline design team to treat functional and physical design performances in concert, as the design matures to a manufacturing level of description. This will involve analysing the multitude of data standards, modelling languages and architecture frameworks that apply to naval design, as well as investigating the latest technology developments in software / data integration technologies. With this state of the art in how a wide portfolio of engineering design disciplines can be brought together the researcher will be in a unique position to contribute to the knowledge by developing and testing in a real design environment, an engineering-led method for co-ordinating the modelling and data environment as a federation of design representations leanly integrated so that they can be co-evolved and co-solved by a large (100s of people) design team to deliver a successful system.

The overall effectiveness of this ‘architectural standard’ in improving design practice will not be solely delivered by this research, but as one of three related iCASE funded PhD’s alongside industrial led Research & Development, all under the direction of the Strategic Partnership between BAE Systems and Strathclyde university. This involves sharing resources, expertise and data to accelerate research to mutually beneficial outcomes for the student, university and industrial sponsor.


Professor Alex Duffy

Professor Alex Duffy has over 28 year’s research experience, has amassed 209 articles of which 32 are journal and 107 refereed conference papers and has secured over £38.9m of project funding of which over £4.8m directly supported his own research activities.

Professor Duffy’s interests in naval architecture are long standing, highlighted through his own undergraduate degree in Naval Architecture at Strathclyde, followed by a PhD in Artificial Intelligence in Ship Design. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Information Technology Professional (CITP), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is the youngest Honorary Fellow of the Design Society - which is the recognition of outstanding services to the society and the design community in general and is the highest honour the Design Society can bestow.

Dr Tiffany Imron who recently completed a BAE Systems based PhD within DMEM shares her experience of the process and having Professor Alex Duffy as her supervisor,

“Doing a PhD with industry provides a unique experience. It was very dynamic as I was not required to be in front of the computer doing research all of the time. I got the chance to be in the company, learn about the company, and work with a variety of different people across the company. It was also good to know that my research outcome would contribute to industry practice, not just to knowledge.

"Throughout my PhD journey, Professor Duffy was fully engaged and encouraging, which I believe was key to my success. He supports his students by helping them use their own ability to earn the PhD. Anyone would be lucky to have him as a supervisor, I can’t recommend him enough.

"The role of DMEM was also important. They were accommodating on my research needs. Through DMEM, I had the opportunity to chair workshops in a multi-national company and at an international design conference to evaluate the model that I have developed as part of my PhD. It was my first experience chairing a (relatively) big international group by myself, and having done it successfully it significantly increased my confidence levels.”

Further information

Not only will this PhD broaden your horizons, ensure you have a full suite of skills and understanding straight from industrial operations, but will also give your CV a competitive edge upon graduation.

Working with BAE Systems Maritime, who operate several of the small number of shipyards in the world capable of designing and manufacturing naval ships and submarines, provides a rare insight into a globally leading company, whilst also allowing your research to make a difference.

The research will develop an architecture that ensures an integrated model based systems engineering approach is followed. Standards for functional design development will be explored, and if necessary developed, in order to define which steps need to be taken for the key aspects of the functional design to be embedded during design development and cope with design uncertainty and gaps. Finally the architecture will be evaluated by demonstrating its ability to enable functional requirements fulfilment, functional properties development, and their integration with the spatial aspects of the design.‎

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