Lawrence Coates

Lawrence Coates


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Personal profile

Academic Background

  • BSc Civil Engineering (Thin Sandwich) (City) (1977)
  • PhD Civil Engineering (City) (1983)
  • CEng MICE (1987)

Administrative Posts

  • Admissions Tutor for Energy Engineering (UG and PGT)
  • Course Director for Energy Engineering with Environmental Management (BEng/MEng/MSc)


I am a Chartered Civil Engineer and take pride in maintaining my practical interest in civil engineering by frequent contacts with industry in support of teaching activities.  My early research career shifted towards teaching when I became an admissions tutor and for the last 20 years I have taught at all levels and in most civil engineering subjects apart from the black art of soil mechanics.

I studied at City University for my BSc and PhD in Civil Engineering, under Dr Arumugam and sponsored by Freeman Fox and Partners.  In my thin sandwich course I worked in several of Freeman’s offices dealing with steel box and reinforced concrete bridge design and on site at Avonmouth Bridge.  A brief spell followed in the Aeronautics department at Imperial College working with Peter Bearman and Mike Graham on wave forces and flow structures associated with offshore jacket platforms using a new wave tank.  I was appointed as a new-blood lecturer in groundwater at the University of Birmingham in 1984 and achieved professor status by 2010.  For a fresh challenge I joined UEA in 2011 to help develop the teaching of engineering.

Follow this link for details of current PhD opportunities in Mathematics. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Key Research Interests and Expertise

Although my current post is teaching-focused I retain an interest in water engineering, specifically waves and wave energy.  My PhD combined a theoretical study using the Boundary Element Method and Experimental work in a 21m wave tank.

I have collaborated with Jon Williams and friends in field work in the Deltares Deltaflume in the Netherlands looking at wave-induced sediment motion in various contexts.  I have supervised 7 PhD students in topics ranging from waves over mud to soil-structure interaction using BEM.

Teaching Interests

I have a broad range of experience in teaching within engineering degrees : Communication Skills, Team working, Professional Skills, Sketching and Drawing. Engineering Design, Structural Behaviour, Mathematical and Computational Methods, Computational Mechanics.  Water Engineering, Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics, Coastal and River Engineering, Irrigation, Pipe Network Analysis, Ethics for Engineers, Risk Assessment, Energy Engineering, Renewable Energy, Marine Energy.

I am also interested in exploring different styles of teaching such as enquiry-based and student-centred learning and received awards for teaching and innovation at Birmingham.

Highlights over the last 20 years include the creation and running of the Special Technology Programme (STP) from 2001 to 2008. This provided a lot of examples of innovative teaching and learning and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to teach students without a scientific background some sophisticated physical and technological principles.  The most successful support lecturer in the npower Energy Challenge having had at least one team in every final since 2007 and supporting teams that have come first 3 times and third twice, winning with a team from UEA in 2011.