Skip to main content

Charles Augarde's personal web page

I am …
Professor in Civil Engineering and lead the Computational Mechanics Research Node in the Department of Engineering. From August 2022, I will succeed Simon Hogg to be the Head of Department.

Department of Engineering
Durham University
South Road
Durham DH1 3LE, UK

T: 0191 334 2504  (Office)
E: charles  dot  augarde  at

Research Interests

  • Computational geotechnics and solid mechanics: Methods
    • Improving meshless, finite element & scaled boundary methods.
    • The Material Point Method in all its forms
    • Computational fracture mechanics
  • Computational geotechnics and solid mechanics: Applications
    • Large deformation problems such as ploughing and foundation installation
    • Problems requiring 3D modelling (as compared to 2D plane strain)
    • Soft ground tunnelling (this was my PhD but i don’t get up to a lot here now)
  • The mechanics of soil-based construction materials, particularly rammed earth
  • Iterative solvers for linear systems arising from finite element and meshless analysis
  • Unsaturated soil mechanics

Positions Available

  • Funding for PhDs is always difficult to obtain but do not let that stop you from considering it. Apply online here
  • Any postdoctoral positions we have are advertised on
  • If you are interested in any of the topics you see above or below please drop me an email


Research projects present and recentish past

  • Offshore Cable Burial: How deep is deep enough? A recently funded EPSRC project (2022-2025) lead by Will Coombs at Durham (I am CoI), working with Mike Brown at Dundee and Gareth Carter at the British Geological Society. The title says it all really. Started in March 2022. PDRA at Durham is Dr Robert Bird.
  • AMPLE, a Material Point Learning Environment: Material Point Method software developed by Will Coombs over the past five years. Paper | Webpages
  • “A New Partnership in Offshore Wind” (2017-2022) One of EPSRC’s Prosperity Partnerships. I am one of the CIs. DU news item (14/7/17).
  • Soil-based construction materials and Rammed Earth. I have a track record going back to 2004 in the study of these materials from the geotechnical point of view. There are a number of journal papers covering this work such as this one, this one and this one, and a book which is here. The TERRE project (see below) students at Durham (Sravan Muguda and Alessia Cuccurullo) studied these materials and you can check out their theses at the links.
  • WINDAfrica, an EPSRC-funded project (2017-2021) using GCRF money to develop performance-based design for foundation systems of WIND turbines in AFRICA led by Ashraf Osman at Durham. Field, experimental and numerical work with Cambridge, Pretoria, Khartoum and Dar es Salaam.
  • BESTOFRAC, an EC-funded Research and Innovation Staff Exchanges (RISE) Marie Sklodowska-Curie network on computational modelling of fracture, led by Bauhaus-Universitaet Weimar. Details here.
  • Screw piles for wind energy foundation systems: past EPSRC-funded project in conjunction with Dundee and Southampton Universities. Project webpages are here and work continues.
  • TERRE: Training Engineers and Researchers to Rethink geotechnical Engineering for a low carbon futurepast EC-funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie Training Network. 2015-2019 led by me at Durham, and overall by Strathclyde University
  • Seabed Ploughs:  past EPSRC funded project which involved myself and Will Coombs at Durham, plus Mike Brown and Andrew Brennan at the University of Dundee. Durham PDRA on this was Michael Cortis. We are continuing to develop our models of seabed ploughing.
  • X-Ray Computed Tomography Facility: EPSRC funding was received to set up a new XRCT facility in the School in 2013, for internal examination of a range of materials across engineering, physics and earth sciences. The machine itself is a Zeiss Versa XRM-410 and has been scanning since October 2013, so it is a bit long in the tooth now. Details of the facility and how to access it are here. Currently the facility is closed

Graduate students (& topics)

For the names in bold below I acted as primary supervisor. Italic means I acted as secondary supervisor, (but only where I actually did something rather than it being in name only). Most theses are available at the Durham University eTheses archive, links below 

  • Past PhD/MScR Students (award date)
    • Claus Wisser (Oxford, 2002) with Dr Harvey Burd: (thesis)… lost contact
    • Dimos Koungelis (2007): (thesis on tunnelling)… now a Principal Engineer for COWI in Glasgow
    • Paul Jaquin (2008): (thesis on rammed earth)…  now a structural and geotechnical engineer in Queenstown, New Zealand for eZED, working on sustainable building projects
    • Xiaoying Zhuang (2010): (thesis on meshless methods for fracture)… now a Professor at Leibniz Unversität Hannover
    • Chris Beckett (2011): (thesis on soil-based constuction materials)…recently (03/22) promoted to senior lecturer at Edinburgh University
    • Joao Mendes (2011): (thesis) … now a senior lecturer at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne
    • Will Coombs (2011): (thesis) … now a valued colleague at Durham, and promoted to Professor in 2021
    • Zahur Ullah  (2013): (thesis on meshless methods)  … now a lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast
    • Gareth Bird (2013) (thesis)  … lost contact
    • Jack Barnard (2014): (thesis on particle methods for porous flow) … lost contact
    • Jonathan Smith: (2015) (thesis on soil-based constuction materials): … now working for Cundall in Newcastle upon Tyne
    • Ibrahim Alatawi (2016) (thesis) … now an assistant professor in Saudi Arabia
    • Andrew Corbin (2017) (thesis on soil-based constuction materials) … now working for Durham County Council
    • Yun Bing (2017) (MScR thesis) … now (still?) studying for a DPhil at Oxford University
    • Weilong Ai (2018) (thesis on meshless methods for fracture mechanics)  … now an associate professor at Southeast University in China
    • Tim Charlton (2018) (thesis on the MPM)  … now working for Lusas
    • Lei Fan (2019) (thesis on point collocation methods)… soon (Jan 2023) to be assistant professor in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Department at Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin, USA.
    • Alessia Cuccurullo (2019) (thesis on earthen construction available 2021)… now a postdoc in France
    • Sravan Muguda-Viswanath (2019) (thesis on earthen construction available 2021) … now a postdoc back at Durham
    • Jianye Wang (2020) (thesis on geotechnical engineeringfibres in soils) … has returned to Beijing to an academic post
    • Anira Hashim (2021) (thesis on computational mechanics: peridynamics) … has returned to Malaysia to an academic post
  • Past visiting students
    • Khuong Duy Nguyen (Oct 2017-Mar 2018) Computational Mechanics: fracture. Visiting PhD student from Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Vietnam as part of the BESTOFRAC project.
    • Kaizhou Lu (Oct 2016-Sept 2018) Computational Mechanics: embedded boundaries with  Will Coombs. Visiting PhD student from Tongji University
    • Than Phuc Huynh (July 2019 – Dec 2019) visitor under the BESTOFRAC project working on a project on DG and Phase Fields, devised by Will Coombs and Stefano Giani
  • Current  as primary supervisor (start date) 
  • Current as secondary supervisor (start date)
    • Lesley Davidson (Oct 2017), Assessing and predicting natural environmental impacts on cultural heritage landscapes, based at Newcastle University, main supervisor is Jon Mills


Current editorial board memberships


Courses I taught at Durham last academic year (2020/21) are below – I am on Research Leave (a.k.a. Sabbatical) 2021-22

  • L1 Mechanics at the Material Point (Epiphany Term): creep,fatigue, fracture, some maths to do with stresses, structural design
  • L2 Mechanics of Static Systems (Michaelmas Term): thick cylinders, shear stresses in bending and torsion, soil mechanics (yes!), the matrix stiffness method
  • L4 Structural Design (Michaelmas Term): prestressed concrete, composite construction, timber, masonry and earthen construction
  • L4 Plates and Shells (Michaelmas Term): Plates and … er … shells

A list of final year and MSc projects supervised at Durham is here
Outside Durham, between 2011 and 2018, I contributed to the UK courses on computational geotechnics run by Plaxis 

Some Durham colleagues

People I work with (past & present & future?)