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Earth Sciences

Our School of Earth and Ocean Sciences' postgraduate research degrees are based on independent full-time research work, with an academic supervisor to guide you in discovering new and exciting areas.

Underpinned by substantial external funding, the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences vibrant research environment provides our PhD and MPhil students with opportunities to work with world experts and use high-quality research equipment.

Each year approximately 15 students are recruited for PhD degrees, who benefit from participating in teaching exercises, School activities and essential skills-training experiences. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), 94% of our School of Earth and Ocean Science’s research outputs were deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Distinctive features

Our facilities and equipment underpin research in all branches of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

From the latest analytical techniques to a coastal research vessel, our facilities support research and teaching activities within the School. These include –

  • 3D seismic laboratory - We use high-resolution, industry-sourced seismic data and cutting-edge analytical and interpretive techniques to address a wide ranging of research questions.
  • Electron microbeam facility- Our microscope can be used to image objects such as minerals and microfossils at a magnification far exceeding the capabilities of an optical microscope.
  • Terrestrial laser scanner- Offering superior measurement capability in adverse atmospheric conditions.
  • RV Guiding Light - Our coastal research vessel enables us to better understand marine issues, from sea level rise through coastal erosion and management.
  • Palaeoclimate and climate systems facility- Our Palaeoclimate and climate systems facility can offer high precision trace element and stable isotope analyses in a range of natural materials.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time, part-time
Qualification PhD, MPhil
Full-time duration PhD 3.5 years; MPhil 1 year
Part-time duration PhD 5-7 years; MPhil: 2-4 years
Start dates January, April, July, October

From deep within the Earth, through the crust, into the oceans and onto the land, the international quality of our research output is highlighted by our ranking of 4th in the UK within our discipline (REF 2014).

Our  researchers are broadly divided into three research groups:

  • Solid: Earth and Ocean Science investigates magmatic and hydrothermal processes, subsurface and mantle geodynamics, and the development and sedimentology of sedimentary basins.
  • Living: Earth and Ocean Science considers the processes on the Earth's surface, including in and under its oceans, where life has evolved and profoundly affected environments over billions of years.
  • Changing: Earth and Ocean Science considers the causes and consequences of changes in the Earth system, in the ocean, atmosphere and on land, from the geological past into the present and future.

Our graduates go on to undertake a wide variety of employment routes. Some take up post-doctoral positions in the UK and overseas, whilst others take up positions in the oil and minerals industries throughout many parts of the world.

UK government postgraduate doctoral loans

Candidates for the Professional Doctorate programme may be eligible to apply for a UK government postgraduate doctoral loan.

Find out more about UK government postgraduate doctoral loans


We have two types of PhD studentship:

  • Studentships with guarantted funding
  • Projects eligible for NERC funding are awarded through the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership.

See our latest PhD studentships and projects and find out more about other funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Where applications are not in response to any advertised topic, research proposals are welcomed but not essential, informal enquiries with potential supervisors are also encouraged. The inclusion of a CV and any available funding information should be included with a preliminary enquiry.

Graduates in appropriate science subject such as Geology or Environmental Science, with at least a First Class or 2:1 Honours degree, or a master's.

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS). Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

School of Earth and Environmental Science: School Office

Academic contact(s)

Dr Ernest Chi Fru

Dr Ernest Chi Fru

Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences

+44(0)29 2087 0058


Apply now
See the range of PhD studentships and projects currently available.

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