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Structures Research Group



Born in Scotland and educated on Tees-side, Chris Morley was an undergraduate in Cambridge from 1959-62, when the engineering course here was called Mechanical Sciences. He continued in Cambridge as a Graduate Student, pursuing research on concrete slabs under the supervision of Roger P. Johnson, and took his PhD in 1966. From midsummer 1965 he worked as an engineer with Freeman Fox and Partners; briefly on site at the M4/M5 interchange near Bristol, then for almost eighteen months in Northern Ireland involved with bridges for the M1 in County Armagh, and finally in their London offices designing reinforced and prestressed concrete bridges for the M5. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Since October 1968 he has been a member of the academic staff of CUED, initially as an Assistant Director of Research, then as a Lecturer, and latterly as a Senior Lecturer.  Since January 2003 he has been Deputy Head (Teaching) in the Department.   During periods of sabbatical leave, he spent fifteen months in 1976-7 with Det Norske Veritas in Oslo doing checking and research on offshore concrete platforms for the North Sea; and shorter periods collaborating in research at ETH in Zurich and NTU in Singapore. Also since 1968 he has been a Fellow of Trinity College, where he was Senior Tutor in the early 1980's and then Assistant Bursar, from 1992-2001 was Tutor for Advanced Students concerned with the admission and welfare of graduate students, and since 1999 has been Vice-Master.   He has been a non-executive director of Cambridge Water plc since 1995.





He has always been interested in plasticity theory, and especially in its application to reinforced concrete structures, either to predict the collapse load of a given structure or to design reinforcement against a given ultimate load. He has considered beams, slabs, deep beams, bridge decks etc, under shear forces as well as bending moments. A particular interest is the design of slabs; the Hillerborg strip method, and optimum layout of reinforcement.  Recent research students here worked on flat slabs with irregular column layout;  on design against earthquake damage;  and on flat slabs with steel fibre reinforcement.

Of course, plasticity theory has to be modified to cope with the special features of reinforced concrete; and so his research interests also extend to such phenomena as limited rotation capacity and compressive membrane action in slabs, and to non-linear FE analysis of RC structures and methods of allowing for materials which strain-soften. Stemming from his time in Oslo is an intermittent interest in water in hardened concrete, pore pressure, and water absorption - and recently he has been interested in enforced carbonation using supercritical carbon dioxide.


Key publications: 

Supervision of research students

1969 - 1971 J.L.Clarke Ph.D. thesis 1971 Composite plates with stud shear connectors.

1969 - 1972 S.Rajendran Ph.D. thesis 1972 The strength of reinforced concrete slab elements.

1971 - 1973 R.J.S.Spence Ph.D. thesis 1974 The strength of concrete box girder bridge decks of deformable cross-section.

1973 - 1976 P.J.Cookson Ph.D. thesis 1976 Collapse of concrete box girders involving distortion of the cross-section.

1973 - 1976 T.Lawal Ph.D. thesis 1976 Compressive membrane forces in reinforced concrete slabs.

1979 - 1982 H.Y.Low Ph.D. thesis 1982 Some structural aspects of collisions between ships and offshore platforms.

1979 - 1983 M.A.Kishek Ph.D. thesis 1984 Tension stiffening and crack widths in reinforced concrete beam and slab elements.

1982 - 1987 W.F.Lam Ph.D. thesis 1987 Constitutive relations for finite element analysis of tension stiffening in reinforced concrete.

1983 - 1987 S.T. Li Kim Mui Ph.D. thesis 1987 Pore pressure in concrete: theory and triaxial tests.

1983 - 1988 R.J.Kollek Ph.D. thesis 1988 Collapse mechanisms of locally loaded reinforced concrete shells.

1984 - 1987 Z.B.Mohamed Ph.D. thesis 1987 Shear strength of reinforced concrete wall-beam structures. 1986 - 1990 L.B.B.Peer Ph.D. thesis 1990 Water flow into unsaturated concrete.

1986 - 1990 K.V.G.Prakhya Ph.D. thesis 1990 Ferrocement structures: constitutive relations, non-linear finite element analysis, and analogy with reinforced concrete.

1986 - 1987 W.M.Chirwa one year CPGS On the benefits of ground beams to r.c. frame structures on soft ground

1987 - 1990 A.T.Salami Ph.D. thesis 1990 Finite element analysis of membrane action in reinforced concrete slabs.

1988 - 1992 N.Hearn Ph.D. thesis 1992 Saturated permeability of concrete as influenced by cracking and self-sealing.

1989 - 1992 C.R.Middleton Ph.D. thesis 1992 Strength and safety assessment of concrete bridges.

1989 - 1991 J.S.Kuang Ph.D. thesis 1991 Punching shear failure of concrete slabs with compressive membrane action.

1991 - 1994 A.F.Ashour Ph.D. thesis 1994 Behaviour and strength of reinforced concrete deep beams.

1992 - 1996 A.A.Olonisakin Ph.D. thesis 1996 Reinforced concrete slabs with partial lateral edge restraint.

1996 - S.R.Denton - working on methods of analysing strain-softening structures

1998 - P.N.Reriani - working on compressive membrane action


1965 Equilibrium methods for least upper bounds of rigid-plastic plates. Magazine of Concrete Research. Special Publication on Recent Developments in Yield Line Theory, 13-24

1966 On the yield criterion of an orthogonally reinforced concrete slab element. J.Mechs and Phys. Solids, 14, 33-47.

1966 The minimum reinforcement of concrete slabs. Int.J.Mech.Sci., 8, 305-319.

1966 Experiments on the distortion of steel bars across cracks in reinforced concrete slabs. Mag.Conc.Res., 17, 25-34.

1967 Experiments on the yield criterion of isotropic reinforced concrete slabs. J.Amer.Conc.Inst., 64,40-44.

1967 Yield line theory for reinforced concrete slabs at moderately large deflexions. Mag.Conc.Res., 19, 211-222.

1969 Skew reinforcement of concrete slabs against bending and torsional moments. Proc. ICE, 42, 57-74.

1970 Optimum reinforcement of concrete slab elements against combinations of moments and membrane forces. Mag.Conc.Res., 22, 155-162.

1971 Allowing for shear deformation in orthotropic plate theory. Proc. ICE Supplement, Paper 7367S, 20pp.

1972 (J.L.Clarke & CTM) Steel-concrete composite plates with flexible shear connectors. Proc. ICE, 53, 557-568. (awarded a Telford Premium)

1974 (S.Rajendran & CTM) A general yield criterion for reinforced concrete slab elements. Mag.Conc.Res., 26, 212-220.

1975 (CTM & S.Rajendran) The strength and effective width of reinforced concrete flanges. Proc. ICE Part 2, 59, 103-122.

1975 (R.J.S.Spence & CTM) The strength of single-cell concrete box girders of deformable cross-section. Proc. ICE Part 2, 59, 743-761.

1977  (CTM & H. Gulvanessian)  Optimum reinforcement of concrete slab elements.  Proc. ICE Part 2, 63, 441-454.

1979 Yield criteria for elements of reinforced concrete slabs. ABSE Colloquium on Plasticity in Reinforced Concrete, Copenhagen. Introductory Report, 35-47.

1979 Punching shear failure of hollow concrete spheres. IABSE Colloquium on Plasticity in Reinforced Concrete, Copenhagen. Final Report, 167-174.

1979 Theory of pore pressure in reinforced concrete cylinders. FIP Notes.

1980 (M.W.Braestrup & CTM) Dome effect in RC slabs: elastic-plastic analysis. J. ASCE, 106 ST6, 1255-1262.

1983 (H.Y.Low & CTM) Indentation tests on simplified models of ship structures. IABSE Colloquium on Ship Collision with Bridges and Offshore Structures, Copenhagen. Introductory Report, 213-220.

1983 (CTM & S.Fjeld) Offshore concrete structures. Chapter 34, Handbook of Structural Concrete, edited by Kong, Evans, Cohen and Roll, Pitman, 59pp.

1986 Equilibrium design solutions for torsionless grillages or Hillerborg slabs under concentrated loads. Proc. ICE Part 2, 81, 447-460.

1986 An optimum reinforcement solution for a torsionless grillage with given minimum strength. Int. J. Mech. Sci., 28, 781-788.

1989 Nodal forces in slabs and the 'equilibrium method'. in 'Frame and slab structures' ed. by G.S.T.Armer and D.B.Moore, R.H.Wood Memorial Conf. Watford, November 1988, p.175-204.

1990 (G.K.V.Prakhya & CTM) Tension stiffening and moment-curvature relations of reinforced concrete elements. ACI Structural Journal, 87, 597-605

1991 (Z.B.Mohamed & CTM) Shear strength of r.c. wall-beam structures - an improved plasticity solution. Int.Conf. Solid Mech.and Struct, Singapore.

1992 (W.F.Lam & CTM) An arc-length method for passing limit points in structural calculations. ASCE J. Struct. Engg. 118(1),169-185.

1992 (J.S.Kuang & CTM) Punching shear behaviour of restrained reinforced concrete slabs. ACI Structural Journal, 89(1), 13-19. 1992 A design-build-test project on bridge erection. in Education for Structural Engineering, ed. D. Mackay, Innovative Engineering Press, 99-106.

1992  A design-build-test project on bridge erection.  In 'Education for Structural Engineering', ed. D. Mackay, Innovative Engg Press, 96-106.

1992 (A.T.Salami & CTM) Finite element analysis of geometric non-linearity in plane frameworks. Structural Engineer, 70, 268-271.

1993 (A.F.Ashour & CTM) Three-dimensional nonlinear finite element modelling of reinforced concrete structures. Finite Elements in Analysis and Design, 15, 43-55.

1994 (A.F.Ashour & CTM) The numerical determination of shear failure mechanisms in reinforced concrete beams. Structural Engineer, 72, 395-400.

1994 Design of column-supported slabs as torsionless grillages. 19th Conference on Our World in Concrete and Structures, Singapore, 169-176.

1995 Local couple transfer to a torsionless grillage. Int. Journal of Mechanical Sciences, 37(10), 1067-1078

1995 (A.A.Olonisakin & CTM) Computing compressive membrane action in partially-restrained reinforced concrete slab strips. Conf. on Civil Engineering Computation, Cambridge.

1996 (A.F.Ashour & CTM) Effectiveness factor of concrete in continuous deep beams. ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, 122(2), 169-178.

1997 (N.Hearn & CTM) Self-sealing property of concrete - experimental evidence. Materials and Structures, 30, 404-411. 1997 (T.J.Ibell, CTM & C.R.Middleton) A plasticity approach to the assessment of shear in concrete beam-and-slab bridges. Structural Engineer 75, 331-338.

1997 (T.J.Ibell, CTM & C.R.Middleton)   A plasticity approach to the assessment of shear in concrete beam-and-slab bridges. Structural Engineer 75, 331-338.

1998 (T.J.Ibell, CTM & C.R.Middleton)  An upper bound plastic analysis for shear.    Mag. Conc. Res. 50 (1), 67 – 73.  

1998  (T.J.Ibell, CTM & C.R.Middleton)  Shear assessment of concrete beam-and-slab bridges.   Proc. Institution of Civil Engineers, Structures and Buildings, 128, 264-273  (awarded a Telford Premium).

1999  (T.J.Ibell, CTM & C.R.Middleton)  Strength and behaviour in shear of concrete beam-and-slab bridges.   Amer. Conc. Inst. Structural Journal, 96 (3), 386-391   

1999  (S.R.Denton and CTM)  Accounting for limited ductility in concrete structures.   FIB Conference, Prague, October 1999

2000  (S.R.Denton and CTM)  Limit analysis and strain softening structures.   International Journal of Mechanical Sciences, 42(3), 503-522

2001  (CTM and S.R.Denton)  Modified plasticity theory for reinforced concrete  slab structures of limited ductility.   Conf. on Structural Engineering Mechanics and Computation, Cape Town 2001.  Ed. A. Zingoni.      Elsevier.  Vol. 2, 1523-1530.

2003 (I.M.May, CTM and Y.Y.Chen)  Benchmarking of non-linear finite element analyses for reinforced concrete deep beams.   Comp. Modeling of Concrete Structures, Ed. Bicanic et al, Publ. Swets and Zeitlinger 2003,  pp751-758

 2003 (K.Jaafar and CTM)  Seismic behaviour of rectangular concrete beams with spirals near potential plastic hinges.   In Earthquake Resistant         Structures IV,   Ed. G. Latini and C.A.Brebbia, WIT Press, 2003 pp. 121-130

Plus various discussions, responses to discussion, contributions to conferences, reviews, internal DnV reports, etc. Some refereeing of papers for ICE etc.

Teaching and Supervisions


Over the years, Chris has been involved in teaching a wide range of aspects of civil and structural engineering, from basic structural mechanics, through surveying, to thin-walled structures and stability. In recent times, he has concentrated mainly on teaching in the third and fourth years of the Engineering Tripos, to students specialising on civil engineering subjects; lectures on plastic theory and ultimate strength of structures, laboratory work on model structures and on concrete specimens and reinforced concrete beams, and on structural materials and design, and a final-year module on Concrete and Masonry Structures (with coursework on deep-beam testing and reinforcement design). Every year he offers several design and research projects for final year M.Eng. students. He is also involved in organising a final-year module on Building Physics (heating, light, acoustics) and another in alternate years on Construction and Management, and a little in the post-experience course on Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment which is offered jointly with the Department of Architecture. He also does a full stint of supervision of engineering undergraduates in structures, mechanics and materials in the first two years, structural engineering in year three.


Senior Lecturer in Concrete
Emeritus Dr  Chris  Morley

Contact Details

Cambridge University
Engineering Department
Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1PZ
+44 1223 764099
Not available for consultancy