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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.

Durham Doctoral Studentship

What is covered?

  • A tuition fee-wavier at either the Home/EU or International rate;
  • A tax-free maintenance grant set at the UK Research Councils' national rate, which in 2017/18 was £14,553 (to be confirmed for 2018/19; for guidance only); and

Typical entry qualifications

Fellowships are limited in number and very competitive so a first class degree or equivalent is the minimum required to have a good chance of success.


Open to all students.

Closing dates

The deadline for applications to be considerd for this award is 16th January 2018, but we encourage applications to be submitted as soon as possible.

More information

Student Financial Support Office and the Faculty of Science Funding Page

NERC IAPETUS Doctoral Training Program

Further Information about this Doctoral Training Program (DTP) can be found on the centre's website

Eligibility: NERC studentships covering fees, stipend and Research Training Support Grant are available to UK citizens and to citizens of the EU who have been permanently in residence in the UK for a minimum of 3 years prior to taking up the studentship. Full details of eligibility for NERC studentships can be found in the Research Councils UK Training Grants Terms and Conditions document available at

A current list of all available projects can be found on the centre's website.

Interested applicants should apply via the Durham University Postgraduate Application form:

When applying, please state clearly which project you are applying for and submit the following documents:

  • Current CV
  • Covering letter (no longer than two A4 pages) explaining your reasons for applying for a PhD and the chosen project
  • Two references
  • Transcripts of your previous qualifications obtained to date

Deadline for applications for this studentship is: Friday 19th January, 2018 (5pm GMT).

Feel free to contact the Postgraduate Admissions team ( if you have any further queries.

MSc by Research projects for 2018/2019

We are pleased to announce an exciting and diverse range of MScR projects for entry in 2018. 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 (2018/2019)

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 2018/2019

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

Postgraduate Prospectus 2018

Interested in postgraduate study? Click to register and download our 2018 prospectus.