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Charles Augarde's personal web page

Head of the Department of Engineering, and Professor of Civil Engineering
Department of Engineering
Durham University
South Road
Durham DH1 3LE, UK

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

Research Interests

  • Computational geotechnics and solid mechanics: Methods
    • The Material Point Method in all its forms
    • Improving continuum methods such as meshless/meshfree, finite element & scaled boundary methods.
    • 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, or earthen, construction materials, particularly rammed earth
  • Iterative solvers for linear systems arising from finite element and meshless analysis (again a past delight working with Alison Ramage at Strathclyde, not so much now)
  • 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

  • Braced Excavations: what about the corners? (2023-2027). An EPSRC-funded project looking at large braced excavations, with me as PI, Will Coombs and Alexandros Petalas as Durham CoIs and Jonathan Knappett and Mike Brown at Dundee University. Durham is doing numerical and Dundee experimental. Started in July 2023 for 4 years. Project partners are Laing O’Rourke, AKT II, Oasys, Cementation Skanska & Southampton University. Durham PDRA is Mao Ouyang (started Jan. 24).
  • Offshore Cable Burial: How deep is deep enough? An EPSRC-funded project (2022-2025) led 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.
  • GEOMEASURE, (2022-24), a project led by Wojciech Solowski of Aalto University which will investigate seabed structure and deposits in coastal areas of Finland, develop new correlations between in-situ tests and material parameters and investigate the influence of cyclic loading on material behaviour.
  • AMPLE, a Material Point Learning Environment: Material Point Method software developed by Will Coombs over the past seven years. Paper | Webpages
  • “A New Partnership in Offshore Wind” (2017-2022) One of EPSRC’s Prosperity Partnerships. I was 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) (2017-2022) Marie Sklodowska-Curie network on computational modelling of fracture, which was 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 future: past 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. The facility is now being looked after by Alexandros Petalas.

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 students, PhD unless indicated otherwise (award date)

  • Claus Wisser (2002): (thesis on tunnelling) at Oxford …. lost contact
  • Dimos Koungelis (2007): (thesis on tunnelling) … now an associate with 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, Germany
  • Chris Beckett (2011): (thesis on soil-based construction materials)… now a 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
  • 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 construction materials): … now working as a senior project manager for Estates and Facilities at Durham University
  • Ibrahim Alatawi (2016) (thesis) … now an assistant professor in Saudi Arabia
  • Andrew Corbin (2017) (thesis on soil-based construction materials) … was working for Durham County Council but now retraining
  • Yun Bing (2017) (MScR thesis) (April 23) passed her DPhil viva at Oxford University in 2022
  • 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 in the UK
  • Lei Fan (2019) (thesis on point collocation methods) … now Assistant Professor in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Department at Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin, USA
  • Alessia Cuccurullo (2019) (thesis on earthen construction) … now an Assistant Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Sravan Muguda-Viswanath (2019) (thesis on earthen construction) … now an Assistant Professor at Durham
  • Jianye Wang (2020) (thesis on geotechnical engineering: fibres in soils) … now a Lecturer at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, China
  • Anira Hashim (2021) (thesis on computational mechanics: peridynamics) … has returned to Malaysia to an academic post
  • Rector Mukwiri (2022) (MScR thesis on DEM) … lost contact
  • Lesley Davidson (2022) (thesis on natural hazards and World Heritage sites). A student at Newcastle University whom I cannot claim anything more than very minor supervison at the start of her studies.
  • Giuliano Pretti (2024) (thesis on the MPM and much much more) … now a postdoc with us in Durham.
  • Nathan Gavin (2024), (thesis on Computational modelling of the heart using the MPM… has moved on from Durham.

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. Excellent student with dubious choice of football team to follow
  • 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)


Current editorial board memberships


Courses taught this (2023-24) year

  • L4 (4th year) Non-linear Solid Mechanics: material and geometric non-linearity
  • L3 (3rd Year) Civil Design: working with Andrew Hales-Hill from Hydroc

Other educational

Some Durham colleagues

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