The department's academic staff are organised into research groups which reflect their specific areas of research activity. Within Civil and Structural Engineering there are four overarching research areas: Structures, Ground, Water and Environmental.


Research - Structure


Research - Ground


Research - Water


Research - Environmental

Research - StructureResearch - Ground Research - Water

Computational Mechanics and Design


CMD research involves developing a deeper understanding of the mechanical behaviour of materials and structures, so that they can be used optimally or manipulated according to specific needs; hence mechanics and design become intertwined. We also undertake research in fluid flow, primarily for application in building physics.

A diverse range of applications are being considered, from design synthesis of 3D truss structures with over a billion potential members, to the manipulation of dynamic stress fields around microscopic inclusions. Extensive use is made of numerical techniques and computer implementations, using in-house and commercial software as appropriate.

Research - Ground Research - Environmental

Geotechnical Engineering


The Sheffield Geotechnical Engineering Research Group comprises five academics with a strong focus on physical modelling, particle scale studies and application of numerical optimisation in geotechnical engineering.

We employ both laboratory, full-scale and centrifuge techniques to investigate a range of practical problems including the behaviour of offshore and thermal piles, masonry arch bridges, pile jetting, reinforced soils, geochemical hazards, and blast effects. Our particle scale studies focus on debris flows, transport in high energy flows, internal erosion, soil/geogrid interaction, and physics engine techniques. Our numerical work has resulted in the development of the original Discontinuity Layout Optimisation procedure, and is researching the back analysis of experimental data and optimal design. We employ a range of specialist facilities including a 4m diameter 50g-ton geotechnical beam centrifuge, educational mini-centrifuge, transparent soil modelling and specialist imaging tools, and a unique explosive and hazards testing laboratory.
Our centrifuge forms the core facility of the Centre for Energy & Infrastructure Ground Research which provides a focus for the broad themes of infrastructure resilience and climate/energy geotechnics. Our work is funded by industry, EPRSC and EU funding, and our outputs have contributed to industry guidance and resulted in the commercial software LimitState:GEO, now used across the world by contractors, consultants and universities.

Research - WaterResearch - Environmental

Water Engineering


The Department hosts the UK’s largest urban water research group, bringing together people from different disciplines to advance engineering and scientific knowledge across all aspects of water engineering and management. Our research builds upon a culture of nurturing and addressing industry needs in collaboration with a range of stakeholders to provide innovative solutions to challenging problems. Our activities span a range of fundamental, experimental and applied research, including many aspects of understanding and modelling hydraulics and hydrological processes, hydrogeology, drainage and flood risk management, potable water distribution infrastructure, environmental fluid mechanics, surface mixing processes and sediment transport.

Our research activity can be divided into Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Groundwater Protection and Restoration, Sustainable Drainage Systems & Urban Drainage, Water Distribution Systems and Infrastructure, and Catchments and River Flooding. We always take an integrated approach, fully cognisant of the complex interactions and interconnections of these vast, uncertain infrastructure systems.

Research - Structure

Steel Structures

SteelSteel research has a long history at the University of Sheffield starting with structural hollow section joint research in the early 1970s, stability of beams and columns in the 1980s, and structural fire engineering from the 1990s. Our current activities are focussed on:

  • cold-formed steel structures considering local stability, earthquake resistance and performance in fire
  • the stability of stainless steel thin-walled sections
  • tubular structures
  • performance of steel composite structures in fire
  • joint performance and modelling under fire and dynamic loading
  • steel and timber acting compositely in hybrid structures

Research activities include experimental studies as well as numerical modelling with an emphasis on practical application of the research, such as the development of practical design methods for stability-related problems, and our Vulcan software, which is capable of non-linear modelling of 3-dimensional composite buildings under fire conditions.

Research - StructureResearch - Ground

Concrete and Earthquake Engineering


Constructions are an integral part of the infrastructure of our daily lives, and in many ways define and shape the society we live in. The built environment, however, is also the largest raw material-consuming industry and its environmental impact is becoming progressively more significant. The increasing demands on structures and infrastructure to adapt to an ever-changing social landscape is further increasing the need for new and improved engineered materials and solutions to ensure the optimal exploitation of our resources, and foster a more sustainable use of our assets. The Concrete and Earthquake Engineering research group addresses these challenges by bringing together a complementary mix of experimental, theoretical and computational modeling expertise on material technology, traditional and innovative construction materials, structural engineering, and extreme load conditions. Research carried out in the group is strongly driven by environmental and sustainability issues and covers all aspects of concrete materials, structural and material testing and characterisation, short and long-term structural behaviour, analysis, innovation, and design.

Research - Environmental

Resources, Infrastructure Systems and Built Environments


RISE are a thematically interdisciplinary led research group of engineers and scientists that seeks to generate new knowledge and insights for use in planning, policy and design for the creation of a built environment that allows humanity to thrive within the carrying capacity of the planet. We have these thematic areas of interest:

  • Energy, carbon and material flows in buildings, cities and infrastructure.
  • Understanding and design of internal environments.
  • Infrastructure as a complex system and the influence of disruptive technologies on Infrastructure Systems Engineering.

RISE hosts a Royal Academy of Engineering Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Building Design, the leadership of Infrastructure Research for the Faculty of Engineering, the Sheffield node of the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities, the Urban Flows Observatory, and is one of the partners feeding into the Active Building Centre.

Research - StructureResearch - Ground

Earthquake Engineering


The Earthquake Engineering Group (EEG) is an interdisciplinary research group with over 20 academics and researchers, and is one of the largest groups of its kind in the UK. Research covers all aspects of earthquake engineering including: seismic hazard and risk assessment, vulnerability assessment, performance-based design, active/passive seismic control of structures, soil-structure interaction, and development of novel strengthening techniques. The group has led several international research consortia, undertaken full-scale seismic shaking table tests, and organised several international conferences and seminars. We have developed a novel framework for Seismic Risk Assessment and Management, which has been used for case studies in countries like Cyprus, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Dubai and Turkey.

Research - StructureResearch - Ground

Blast and Impact Engineering

The Blast & Impact groupblast_image conducts research to develop a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms associated with intense, rapidly-varying loads on structures, resulting from accidental or malicious explosions. Our research gives insights into how to better protect people and buildings from these devastating effects. We have excellent experimental facilities at the Faculty’s Buxton site, where we can perform high explosive and impact tests on structures, in addition to tests to understand how materials behave when they are loaded to failure very rapidly. Our current projects include world-leading experimental and computational modelling studies of the extremely aggressive loading when a detonation occurs very close to a structure, with pressures of 100s of MPa applied over durations of a few millionths of a second.

Civil and Structural Engineering has received an outstanding result for its research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014).