The NDC offers a number of funded PhD opportunities for high calibre students across a range of areas. PhD students benefit from being part of a new and exciting decommissioning research centre working in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, along with other PhD students, industry and academics among others.

The NDC includes state-of-the-art engineering laboratories and hangar space for the design and development of decommissioning technology, as well as a suite of environmental commercial testing facilities. At the heart of the Centre is the Decommissioning Immersive Collaborative Environment (DICE), a high-tech digital visualisation suite.

To find out more about our current PhD research projects, please visit our Research Page

PhD Opportunities:

Project Title: Regulatory-compliant Planning for Decommissioning

PhD Supervisors: Dr Martin Kollingbaum (lead supervisor,, Dr Nir Oren and Professor John Patterson

School of Natural and Computing Science and School of Law

Application Deadline: Open


In this project, we look at distributed planning problems in highly regulated domains. The domain under consideration is decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructures. Decommissioning is a multi-faceted and complex problem and requires the coordinated effort of a multitude of operators, contractors, advisors and regulators that have to navigate a range of socio-economic issues. This project will develop methods for guiding the planning and decision process for decommissioning activities in order to achieve environmental, social and economic net benefits. This project will focus foremost on supporting the decision-making process in planning decommissioning activities. An important part in this project is the integration of a regulatory concern into the technical problem of planning a decommissioning operation in order to automate such a planning process. We will explore how different legislative aspects can either hinder or help finding sustainable solutions to decommissioning, for example according to the current UN Global Goals 2030 framework.

Concepts, such as digital twins, agent-based simulation, and normative reasoning, will inform the development of a decision-support platform that will incorporate models of social, economic, ecological and regulatory dimensions of such a decommissioning undertaking. These models will use a range of qualitative, semi-quantitative and quantitative approaches to inform relationships between regulatory targets and decommissioning operations, as well as between operations and socio-economic targets. This project will first focus on the North Sea basin, but will aim at the development of a generic and flexible approach (and tool suite that captures this approach) that can be used globally with regions at different states of decommissioning considerations.

This interdisciplinary project is supported by the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC), with the aim of attracting new talent to this sector of industry. Students and projects will be based within the NDC’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Newburgh. There will be an expectation that the successful applicant undertakes courses that are part of the MSc in Decommissioning on a non-credit bearing basis. Specifically, the course which provides a detailed overview of the international and domestic legal regulatory framework pertaining to the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas installations.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Computer Science.

Essential background/Knowledge:

Applicants should have a strong background in multiagent decision-making, planning and optimisation. Experience in normative reasoning and aspects of normative systems, or in domain-specific aspects of oil and gas decommissioning, as well as in petrochemical engineering, is beneficial.


Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Science
• State the name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor AND project title

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

Personal Statement
All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
2 Academic References
Detailed CV

The other supervisors on this project are Dr Nir Oren (School of  Natural and Computing Sciences) and  Professor Paterson (School of Law).
The start date of the project is as soon as possible. If a suitable candidate is found before the closing date the advert will be removed.

Tuition Fees will be paid at UK/EU rates with a monthly stipend, paid in arrears.

International applicants can apply providing they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International Tuition Fees, from their own resources, for the duration of study