What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

With the help of my supervisors, I published my first conference paper 7 months into the programme and my first journal paper in my second year! The opportunities the University offers are great.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

The knowledge, support and enthusiasm of my supervisors for their research as well as mine has been a great motivation!

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

I decided I wanted to study in depth what I had experienced so far, after seven years of practicing internationally. My aim is to make the best outcome and link my professional and research outcomes.

Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

The University Of Birmingham has extensive knowledge in engineering and is globally recognised as one of the best institutions for engineering. It also has a great international environment, which suits my experiences so far.

Do you have anything lined up for once you have completed your degree?

I continuously get opportunities throughout my PhD course, which is a good promise for after I finish. However, I would like to focus on my academic career.

Have you joined any clubs or societies, gone on any research trips or done any volunteering?

Through my time at the University Of Birmingham, I have joined the Wayfarers hiking Society. I took part in the Leading Academics and was involved in the organisation for Widening Horizons course.

How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?

A PhD course allows you to think clearly, methodically and effectively. My critical thinking has developed and enables me to make better decisions on my professional career and also everyday life.

How do you manage to keep the balance between a professional and personal life?

Studying for a PhD is a long and often can be a lonely process for many. Yet your attitude to work ethic is important for keeping the balance. Although I am not a ‘lists person’, I keep a good track of my everyday schedule. My working day follows office hours and when my workload exceeds these, I make time afterwards to reward my efforts. I am keeping strong bonds with family that give me good advice and friends that are caring and understanding, I make short but memorable travels when possible. My secret is that I like my research subject so much, that I hardly consider it as work.

As a Prospective PhD Student in Civil Engineering (Railway), what do I do upon arrival?

Hello and congratulations for entering a life changing experience!

I would say that it can turn out to be a long list, but do take a step at a time, to avoid unnecessary stress. During my first week in the PhD program, my supervisor advice me to ‘feel settled‘ first before I initiate my research. Ensuring a place to stay is a priority of course, you could arrive prior to the start of your PhD program to look for one. When you get your accommodation, your address will also help you to register with the University, which means that you will then have a University email address- to email your  supervisors and arrange a first meeting with them-ask for a meeting within the next two weeks, they are indeed very busy. Once the University registration is settled, within a day (from the student services) you will get your student card. This will help you to open a bank account (two high street banks in the campus-or more in the city centre). Once you have the details of your bank account, you can register online for gas/electric or other bills, go to the new street train station for your monthly pass, if needed. Within the first few days, familiarise yourself with the main library, student services and retail/restaurant places on campus. Also very important (possibly before you arrive) to get to know your fellow PhD’s students and try to talk with them, also your colleagues in case you are also part of a research project. So overall, in your first day of the PhD you would already have gone through this process and you will be ready to contact your supervisors, your colleagues, have a look in the Engineering building, labs, cafe areas, a desk space in case you will be working in one of the offices, or make arrangements for a laptop from the School.  It’s only the first day and it does take time to feel settled and ready to start research. Enjoy, these are exciting times.

Hi Marianna, I just applied for a PhD program, can you tell me about your experience?


thank you for your question. Have you applied already/got an offer (are you interested in a program within the Civil Eng), it seems the answer to your question requires an extensive answers in different areas. I am positive that is impossible to relate PhD experiences or compare them.  The reasons for pursuing a PhD also can vary (academic career/desire to pursue research/employment reasons/…) really, they can be so many. It is therefore important to be clear within yourself why you want to pursue it, as it will help you when you get an interview for the program. A PhD is considered an original, focused research, working along two or more supervisors, being part (or not) of a research team.

Further than this, it also depends on the skills that everyone has accumulated, so again, there is no guarantee that two PhDs have the same experience, or draw similarities on the different experiences. For example, I had quite a few years of profesional experience internationally, and I aimed to publish my research in journals and conferences, also being employed in research, while others chose to move from a masters degree and then pursue a career in the market (or not-again depends on what your goals are). So, overall I think you might want to consider the options and variables and state them clearly on your application (in case you have not applied yet), a PhD is a long process, and surely first we set the goals within ourselves.

All the best!


Thank you Marianna for your great answer. I have applied and haven't received any offer yet. Yes I am interested in Civil Engineering for the Structural Engineering program, I understood that you had Smart City as your final dissertation title, how did you limit your scope of discussion since that was a big scope of discussion? Thanks.

Hello again, indeed, my research subject is on smart cities, however a PhD title describes is more than that, which is agreed with supervisors, along with what is required according to the University standards. Hope you get a positive outcome to your application, all the best!

Hey Marianna, could you please give me an objective opinion on employability after completing a MSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Birmingham?

Hi there!
I would think the employability prospects following an MSc in Civil Engineering at UoB are great. Our Civil Engineering research environment is a diverse and multidisciplinary research environment, with combined taught and research degrees, supported by a wide spectrum of subjects, researchers, and lab facilities. Are you planning to study for an MSc or currently seeking employment? If it is the first, you can further discuss here

If you are seeking employment following the MSc: Birmingham city is undergoing major changes (you see it in the city centre, also due to the Commonwealth Games) and I believe the there are many companies that are employing UoB graduates in Birmingham. However, following an MSc from UoB, which enables you with the engineering skills to advance your knowledge (as you asked for my objective opinion); I would say that there is great support following the studies. They say that ‘it’s a full time job to find a job’ and there is effort needed from the applicant’s point, along with the support of the UoB network, to ensure you find a job you will enjoy and suits your skills and aspirations. Whether you’re a home or international job candidate, there is support for both:

You can have a look at the following web sites (you can use their services for 2 years after graduation):

Work Experience for Postgraduates (intranet) contains general information:

Often graduates do not consider how important is to demonstrate their employability skills (as called soft skills-positive attitude, teamwork, resilience, willingness to learn) on their cv. Also, UoB Careers Network offer great help with developing and demonstrating these along with advice on how to approach companies, cv building and personalised help.  Also, some more information:

Work experience guidance

Log in to Careers Connect

As a UoB alumni, you can keep in touch and learn of any opportunities or talk with fellows that have moved on to employment.

There are also great opportunities to meet professionals if you attend local events (for example ICE West Midlands), free conferences, engage with social media (twiter, linkedin etc)to increase your chances of becoming a successful candidate.

Hope this helps!