Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Chris Burgoyne

Department of Engineering

Prof. Chris Burgoyne


Chris Burgoyne

Professor of Structural Engineering

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research group: Structures (Head of Group)

Telephone: +44 1223 3 32698


Personal website


Research interests

Dr Burgoyne's research interests include:

  • The mechanics of the debonding process when carbon fibre plates detach from concrete structures.  It is our belief that this cannot be analysed using finite elements but must be tackled using fracture mechanics.
  • We are studying the long-term properties of aramid fibres, with particular emphasis on the visco-elastic processes that govern strength, creep, relaxation, stress-rupture and strength retention.  We have carried out extensive work on aramid fibres, such as Kevlar and Technora, and are currently applying those techniques to PBO.
  • Working on the design of a tether suitable for anchoring a balloon at a height of 20 km for the purposes of geoengineering or telecommunications. The tether will have to support itself over its whole length (which effectively excludes metals as they are too heavy), must not conduct electricity (we don't want a lightening conductor) and must also be able to resist the bursting stresses from liquids contained within the pipe.
  • The interaction of trabecular and cortical bone, which we believe can be modelled using a "beam on elastic foundation" model with the cortical bone being the beam and the trabeculae being the foundation.  We also believe that failure is governed by buckling criteria (i.e. stiffness) rather than stress criteria (i.e. strength).

Research projects

Teaching activity

  • IB elective on reinforced concrete
  • 3D3 module on Structural materials (part)
  • 4D7 module on Reinforced Concrete (part)
  • 4D8 module on Prestressed Concrete (runs in alternate years)

Other positions

  • Member of the Editorial Board of ASCE journal of Composites in Construction
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Magazine of Concrete Research
  • Member of the Committee of the British Group of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering
  • Former Chairman of the Beds and Adjoining Counties Branch of the Institution of Structural Engineers.
  • Former Director of the Educational Trust of the Institution of Structural Engineers


Chris Burgoyne graduated from St John's College, Cambridge.  After taking a Master's degree at Imperial College and working in industry he returned to Imperial to study for a PhD where he worked on the buckling of beams and columns with Prof. Eric Brown. He was appointed to a Lectureship in the Concrete Structures section at Imperial, which led to a change of emphasis towards the behaviour of prestressed concrete structures. Since prestressing tendons are the most heavily stressed of all structural elements, typically operating at 70% of their strength, they were natural candidates for the application of very high strength fibres, such as aramids and carbon fibres.  This has led to long-term studies of the strength, creep and durability properties of these fibres, as well as studies of their application to concrete structures, bridges and offshore. He maintains a continuing interest in general prestressed structures and also in the structural mechanics of bone. He has recently been involved in the SPICE geoengineering project, where the properties of fibres are essential for the design of the tether to link a balloon at a height of 20 km for the injection of particles into the stratosphere. Chris moved to Cambridge in 1989 and was appointed Reader in Concrete Structures in 1999. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers and a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.