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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Postgraduate Study


We are living through a time of unprecedented change on Earth. Scientific understanding of geological hazards, sustainability, infrastructure, climate change, energy, natural resources and anthropogenic influence on our planet have never been so important. We aspire to help shape and improve the future by training the next generation of Earth Scientists through provision of high quality postgraduate training and research opportunities.


The Department offers a variety of postgraduate research degrees. Each postgraduate must have a member of staff willing to supervise their research. Therefore, prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact individual members of staff directly to develop their ideas and enquire about available projects.

We currently offer the following degree programmes

  • PhD in Geology, Geophysics, or Geological Sciences (3-4 years full-time study)
  • MSc by Research (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 does not offer taught PG programmes at this time.

We welcome all general enquiries via earthsci.pgadmissions@durham.ac.uk address.


Training and Research Environment

Postgraduate students are at the heart of the Department's research activities. Our community has >60 students from countries around the world. The department participates in nationally funded doctoral training programs such as IAPETUS2, GeoNetZero, and Durham GCRF alongside welcoming industry and internationally funded students. All students are supervised by at least two members of academic staff and encouraged to present and promote their research at international conferences and by publication in leading scientific journals.

Students receive specialised research training from their supervisors and other members of the Department. Postgraduate research is commonly embedded in our world-leading research groups and facilities. Postgraduate students are actively encouraged to enhance their transferable skills (e.g. public speaking, report writing, programming) by taking courses from the Graduate School's postgraduate training programme and via activities within department research groups and doctoral training programmes.

Postgraduates can engage in paid demonstration for undergraduate courses. These often involve small group teaching in field, laboratory or online settings. Postgraduates wishing to engage in undergraduate demonstrating will be prepared by attending the Graduate School’s Preparing to Teach course.