CDT in risk and mitigation: using big data

Please note all enquiries relating to student recruitment should be directed to the CDT.

Number of notional studentships awarded: ten per year for three intakes.
Academic partners: the universities of Cranfield (academic lead partner), Birmingham, Cambridge and Newcastle.
Other partners: EU Joint Research Centre, Esri (UK), British Geological Survey (BGS), Bluesky Ltd., Cefas, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Atkins, Anglian Water Ltd, Infrastructure UK, Willis, ARUP, JBA, Northumbria Water Ltd., Newcastle City Council, Defra, East Suffolk Council, Severn Trent Water plc, Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency, Herbert Smith Freehills commercial lawyers, Lloyds Register Foundation, Marine Scotland, Milton Keynes Council, British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Willis, Willis Research Network, Marine Management Organisation, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Public Health England, Birmingham City Council, Scottish National Heritage, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, James Hutton Institute.


The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in risk and mitigation; using big data was awarded to the Data, Risk & Environmental Analytical Methods (DREAM) consortium.

The aim of the consortium is to produce a cohort of researchers who can use large or complex datasets to understand and ease the risks posed by a range of societal and environmental changes, such as a rapidly expanding population, limited natural resources, and natural hazards.

NERC and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have invested about £2.5 million to support this CDT and academic and industry partners have committed to support additional training activities. Two of the studentships in the 2016 cohort will be interdisciplinary and co-funded by ESRC and NERC. The CDT will provide training between 2015 and 2021.

The CDT will support 30 postgraduate students over three student intakes between 2015 and 2017.

Research areas and training

The PhDs supported by this CDT will address research questions in the following areas:

  • approaches and tools for the identification of sources of risks, their drivers and impacts within complex systems
  • robust methods to quantify and analyse risks and their drivers including sound mathematical and statistical approaches
  • tools for developing, managing and analysing ‘big data’, to understand risk better, and to apply modern cloud computing approaches
  • utilisation of multiple models and integrated modelling (for multi-hazard modelling and to combine environmental hazard models with information about vulnerabilities/exposure of a population)
  • new tools and approaches to multi-hazard assessment and interconnected risks (cascade effects)
  • security and legal issues for handling data and information as it relates to risk management
  • measurement, characterisation and handling of uncertainty, including within model chains
  • new approaches to visualise and communicate risk, including the public, to enable decision-making
  • risk perception, communication, decision making and management.
    In addition to undertaking scientifically challenging research, students will gain advanced technical skills, be regularly brought together as a cohort to share ideas and skills, and have the opportunity to take part in partner-based secondments.

Further information

Further information regarding this CDT contact the NERC Talent and Skills Team at

All enquiries relating to student recruitment should be directed to the CDT.

Last updated: 27 July 2023

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