The Systems Group is based within the Institute for Infrastructure and Environment. The Group brings together systems thinkers from a wide range of backgrounds and is a leading centre for systems-related teaching and research.


The Group currently consists of 6 Academics, 1 Visiting Staff, 4 Research Assistants and 7 PhD students.


Research in the Civil Engineering Systems Group is at the cutting edge of the civil engineering discipline. We bring to bear novel holistic approaches to provide insight into complex global challenges. These challenges include sustainability, complex urban systems modelling, environmental limits, safety, human factors, social inclusion, the internet of things and the fourth industrial revolution. Our methods include everything from Hidden-Markov Modelling, reliability engineering, spatio-temporal analyses, network analyses and Human Factors methods.

Our research is delivering systems-based solutions to flood resilience, urban system modelling, efficient disaster recovery plans, and novel statistical modelling techniques for electricity demand profiles. It is also delivering user-centred design guidelines for next-generation home energy management devices, and carbon reduction solutions for the road freight sector, among many others.  

Our research is funded from a wide variety of sources, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Scottish Funding Council, Global Challenge Research Funding (GCRF), Innovate UK, NERC and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

Our Approach

Civil engineering is changing and needs to change more. Engineers need to understand problems at the component level, but increasingly they are called upon to address emergent properties at the systems level.

Systems thinking is at the forefront of the Civil Engineering discipline and the Group’s members have been instrumental in driving this agenda forward. Prof Paul Jowitt is Editor of the Journal of Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems and his Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) 6th Brunel International Lecture placed systems thinking firmly on the agenda.

Professor Eddie Owens is currently the Director of the Heriot Watt Energy Academy and his remit is to promote interdisciplinary research across the University. Assoc.

Professor Sandhya Patidar’s published work on modelling complex climate projections won the best paper award at the World Renewable Energy Congress (WREC) and the Sir David Wallace Prize at Loughborough University.

Professor Lindsay Beevers’ research applies systems thinking to complex urban systems in order to understand city resilience and design forward thinking adaptation plans.

Dimitri Val leads innovative research modelling the effects of natural hazards on infrastructure systems in conditions of climate change. These models are capable of simulating the performance of infrastructures systems, taking into account their interdependencies. This enables strategies for improving infrastructure resilience to be put in place.

Postgraduate study


Opportunities for PhD research exist in all our areas of research. Applications and enquiries are welcome.


Applications to study for an MSc in Safety, Risk and Reliability Engineering (SRRE) or MSc Safety and Risk management (SRM) by online learning are open all year round.

If you would like to meet current and previous students then please join our ready-made LinkedIn professional network.


We frequently undertake consulting, collaborate on research projects, and can deliver tailored CPD courses. Please contact Professor Guy Walker or any of the individual academic members and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.