Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
(023) 8059 3214

Professor William Powrie FREng MA MSc PhD CEng FICE

Professor of Geotechnical Engineering

Professor William Powrie's photo

William Powrie is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Southampton, having served as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment from 2010-2018. His main technical areas of expertise are in geotechnical aspects of transport infrastructure, and sustainable waste and resource management. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in recognition of his work in these areas in 2009. He is committed to sustainability in daily life, especially in the key areas of transport and resource management. He cycles to work most days, and, wherever possible, re-use and recycle goods and materials.

William enjoys cycling, walking, reading and music: He plays the pipe organ, piano, recorder and alto saxophone.

 My main technical areas of interest are

underpinned by an understanding of fundamental soil behaviour. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009 in recognition of my work in these areas. I am also Geotechnical Consultant to the internationally-leading groundwater control company, WJ Groundwater Ltd.

I am committed to sustainability in daily life, especially in the key areas of transport and resource management. I cycle to work most days, and, wherever possible, re-use and recycle goods and materials.

I enjoy cycling, walking, reading and music: I play the pipe organ, piano, recorder and alto saxophone.

Research interests

Transport infrastructure

Major projects on which he has worked include the A55 Conwy Crossing, the Jubilee Line extension stations at Canary Wharf and Canada Water, and HS1. He is currently working with HS2 on geotechnical and earthworks aspects. He is co-author of Construction Industry Research and Information (CIRIA) reports C750 Groundwater control – design and practice, 2nd edition (2016) and C760 Guidance on embedded retaining wall design (2017). Both of these incorporate results of his research in these areas.

He was Principal Investigator for Rail Research UK (2003-2010), a Universities-based centre for Rail Systems Research, and now leads an EPSRC Programme Grant, Track to the Future, aiming to provide the science needed to underpin a radical overhaul in techniques for railway track design, construction and maintenance. He is Convenor of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), and leads the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure.

He is a former Associate Editor of the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, a former Honorary Editor of the Institution of Civil Engineers journal Geotechnical Engineering, and has been Geotechnical Consultant to groundwater specialists WJ Group since 1987.

Waste and resource management

William's work in waste and resource management focuses on landfill engineering, and on the development of a sound scientific basis for policy and practice. He led a major EPSRC-funded programme of fundamental research, Science and Strategies for the Management of Residual Wastes, with the aim of enabling and encouraging landfill operation so as to accelerate biodegradation and stabilization of the waste. He was a co-author of the Institute of Wastes Management report on the Role and operation of the flushing bioreactor.

He worked on the design and engineering risk assessment of the low level radioactive waste repositories at Drigg; and was founding Honorary Editor of the ICE journal Waste and Resource Management; a member of the Scientific Committee of the International Waste Working Group; and chair of the Technologies Advisory Committee for Defra's £30M programme of research and demonstrator projects for new technologies for the treatment of biodegradable waste. He is the author of the widely respected textbook, Soil mechanics: concepts and applications.

Research group

Infrastructure Group

Affiliate research group

Waste Management

Research project(s)

Infrastructure monitoring using passive remote imagery

Track to the Future


SASICE - Safety and Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Foundations as an energy source

How to access the heat beneath our feet by using building foundations to harvest thermal energy.

Processes, mechanics and management of wastes

Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century

Treatment, Extraction and Reuse of Chemically Complex Alkaline Leachates from Landfills

The disposal of Cement Kiln Dust (CKD) to landfill produces leachates with extreme properties of high pH and ionic species concentrations. The research has investigated a number of issues including: the properties of CKD, methods for the extraction of CKD rich leachate from landfills, the interaction of CKD with municipal solid waste and the anaerobic treatment of leachates with a high sulphate concentration.

Industrial Collaboration for Promoting Sustainability

This Knowledge Transfer (KT) project focused on the following key areas: Bioenergy (especially methane production through anaerobic digestion, but also with potential for involvement in other areas e.g. other biofuels, production of pellets for local heat and co-firing in power stations, and pyrolysis of residual municipal wastes for syngas production) Energy footprinting for process optimisation, both in industry and in the waste management sector Energy efficiency studies within companies Urban Sustainability studies (including participation in the Thameside Gateway Institute for Sustainability)

Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC)

Coastal Landfill and Shoreline Management: Implications for Coastal Adaptation Infrastructure

Sort via:TypeorYear



Book Chapters



Code Title Role
CENV3020 Geotechnical Engineering Lecturer
CENV6122 Advanced Foundation Engineering Lecturer
Professor William Powrie
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 178/3009

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings