Postgraduate research opportunities

Smart Asset Management of Wastewater Treatment Processes

This research aims to develop an integrated diagnosis, prediction and maintenance strategy with the goal of identifying reliable signals in wastewater treatment process and then advising on optimal cost-effective maintenance actions. New machine learning algorithms will be developed and evaluated to extract information

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


18 December 2020


30 April 2021




1st class first degree and/or an excellent Masters-level qualification or overseas equivalent in a relevant computer science, management science, operations research, mathematics and statistics, and data science from a recognised academic institution. If English is not your first language you will also be required to provide a recent UKVI recognised secure English language test qualification (minimum overall band score of 6.5 with no individual test score below 5.5) or a university degree completed in a recognized English speaking country.

UKRI Studentship Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for UKRI funding has changed for studentships commencing in the 2021/22 academic year. Now, all home and international students are eligible to apply for UKRI funding which will cover the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). Under the new criteria, UKRI have stipulated a maximum percentage of international students that can be recruited each year against individual training grants. This will be managed at the institutional level for all EPSRC DTP and ICASE grants. For EPSRC CDT grants, this will be managed by the individual CDT administrative/management team. For ESRC and AHRC studentships the final funding decision will be made by the respective grant holder.


To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


The residency requirements are based on the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments. Normally to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education).

If a student does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student. The international portion of the tuition fee cannot be funded by the UKRI grant and must be covered from other sources. International students are permitted to self-fund the difference between the home and international fee rates.

Project Details

The PhD project aims to develop a modelling framework to support smart management of the assets in the wastewater treatment process by advising on cost-effective maintenance actions given information extracted from sensor data.

Specifically, the objectives are as follows.

  1. To develop novel deep transfer learning algorithms to identify, diagnose and locate faults that are signals in wastewater treatment.
  2. To evaluate the deep transfer learning algorithms against other relevant machine learning algorithms using empirical test data sets.
  3. To develop stochastic models, informed by the results of the fault detection, to determine the remaining useful life of assets within the wastewater treatment and to evaluate the risk of faults.
  4. To develop a framework for smart asset management that supports dynamically advising on a cost-effective maintenance strategy to achieve acceptable control in wastewater treatment.

Funding Details

Fully-funded scholarship for 3 years which covers all university tuition fees (at UK level) and an annual tax-free stipend. EU/International students are also eligible for the scholarship, but would need to find other funding sources to cover the university tuition fee difference between the Home rate and the International rate. Exceptional EU/International candidates may be provided funding for this difference.


Primary supervisor: Dr Bin Liu

Secondary supervisor: Prof Lesley Walls

Contact us

PhD supervisor: Dr Bin Liu:

Prof Lesley Walls:

Department Administrator: Elaine Monteith:

How to apply

How to apply

We require applicants to upload documents in two different places:

  1. We require you to apply for PhD student using the standard University application system. You can access this here. Candidates applying for this scholarship should ensure that they include the scholarship reference 2325
  2. We need you to upload your application documentation to this site which will allow us to undertake the required recruitment process for the scholarship. Once you have accessed the folder please upload the following:



All applications should include:

  • cover letter indicating the candidate's relevant skills/experience and how they can contribute to this research
  • CV
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if English isn't your first language – IELTS minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5)
  • two references (please refer to guidance on references here)

When sending the above documents please use the following file-naming convention: fullname_typeofdocument

  • fullname_coverletter
  • fullname_CV
  • fullname_transcript1
  • fullname_transcript2
  • fullname_certificate1
  • fullname_certificate2
  • fullname_IELTS
  • fullname_reference1
  • fullname_reference2

Apply now by uploading your documents.