We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of Earth Sciences

Postgraduate Study

The Department of Earth Sciences is research-led, offering postgraduate research students state-of-the-art facilities in purpose built accomodation (the Arthur Holmes Building) located on the University's Science Site. Click on the links below to learn more about the PhD opportunities available and about the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University.

The Department offers three levels of postgraduate research degrees and we welcome enquiries from suitably qualified applicants in all of these research areas:

  • PhD (3 years full-time study)
  • MPhil (2 years full-time study)
  • MSc by Research (1 year full-time study)
  • MSc by Research in Volcanology (1 year full-time study)

Part-time degree programmes are normally twice the length of the equivalent full-time programme.

Please note that the Department of Earth Sciences does not currently offer a taught Masters programme.

NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas

We are pleased to announce that an exciting opportunity has arisen for a fully-funded, four year PhD studentship to start in October 2017 on any one of the following topics:

Leakage Risks in Petroleum and CO2 Storage Reservoirs

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Andrew C. Aplin

Diagenetic evolution of the geomechanical properties of shales

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Nic De Paola

Minimising fugitive emissions from gas transfer network by in situ characterisation of infra-structure properties.

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Fred Worrall

Improved Short and Long Term Shale Behaviour Prediction

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Chris Greenwell

Statistical characterisation of fluvial sandbodies: implications for complex reservoir models

Primary Supervisor: Dr Stuart Jones

Understanding enhanced oil recovery in UK reservoirs

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Chris Greenwell

This studentship is within the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil and Gas, details of which can be found at You will be part of the fourth annual cohort of 30 students which, in addition to undertaking your PhD research, receives 20 weeks of bespoke, residential training of broad relevance to the oil and gas industry: 10 weeks in Year 1 and 5 weeks each in Years 2 and 3. Instructors are both expert academics from across the CDT and also experienced oil and gas industry professionals.

At Durham, you will join a group of 12 students who are part of the CDT and a broader group of around 30 students working on many aspects of geoenergy. More information on our work on geoenergy is at

Eligibility and How to Apply

This PhD studentship will provide for UK/EU tuition fees and a full stipend (at RCUK rates). Funding is available for both UK and EU citizens. Students must begin their research on October 1st 2017. There is an application deadline of 17:00 31st August 2017 (Interviews will take place early in September). Applicants will need to apply on-line via

Please contact Ms. Jo Banner for questions about the application process: Ms. Jo Banner, Department of Earth Sciences, DURHAM, DH1 3LE +44 (0)191 334 2198. For technical questions about the projects, please contact one of the project supervisors, details of whom on the project links above.

MSc by Research projects for 2017/2018

We are pleased to announce an exciting and diverse range of MScR projects for entry in 2017. Applications from prospective UK, EU and international students are welcome at any time. Please contact the named supervisor on your chosen project to discuss the proposed research before you apply. A list of the current projects can be found here.

MSc by Research in Volcanology (2017/2018)

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new MSc by Research in Volcanology programme. An exciting list of projects can be found on the progamme's new webpage.

Fully funded MPhil and PhD projects for 2017/2018

Fully funded postgraduate positions become available regularly throughout the year, and will be posted here.

Postgraduate Prospectus 2017

Interested in postgraduate study? Click on the above image to register and download our prospectus.