How to Apply
A UK upper second-class honours degree or higher (or equivalent) in a relevant subject (e.g. Geology, Geophysics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences or related subjects)
OR A Master's degree in a relevant subject
AND Suitable references (normally two academic references or, where an applicant has been out of education for some time, one academic reference and one employer's reference).
If you need to speak to someone about the qualifications you hold or experience you can offer, please contact us via the web form or by calling on 00 44 (0)191 344 1000.
Applicants whose first language is not English will need to demonstrate proficiency in written and spoken English. This is normally an IELTS score of 6.5 or above with no category less than 6.0. For more information about English language requirements, and specific information for students who require a Tier 4 visa, please see the information here.
It is the University's policy to consider each application on its merit and without discrimination related to disability. More information about the Durham University Service for Students with Disabilities (DUSSD) can be found here.
Find a Supervisor and Contact the Department
If you are interested in one of the research projects currently on offer, you should contact the first-named supervisor for informal inquiries and further information. Alternatively, if you have a PhD topic in mind that is not listed, you should review the Staff Research Interests page to find a supervisor who may align with your own interests. The Postgraduate Admissions Secretary will also be able to assist you in finding a supervisor if you are having difficulty doing so.
At this stage, you should ensure that:
- You meet the Department's entry requirements, as detailed above
- You can meet the financial requirements of the degree programme you are interested in
- The Department has a suitably qualified supervisor who is able to supervise your research project (by default, this will be the case for all listed PhD projects currently on offer).
In addition to meeting the minimum entry requirements, applicants will be judged on the following four criteria:
- Their suitability to undertake research in a relevant field, including, where appropriate, proficiency in the English language
- Their suitability to undertake a research project in the proposed field of study within the allotted time span
- The availability of a supervisory team which is qualified to supervise the applicant in the proposed research project
- The availability of resources to support the applicant's research project to a successful conclusion.
Complete the On-line Application Form
Only after successfully completing Stage One should a formal application should be made using the University's on-line application system.
You will be asked for the following information:
- Personal details
- Academic qualifications and career to date
- Your chosen College (all full-time postgraduate students at Durham University must become members of a College or Society)
- If you apply for a listed project, please make sure to mention the project name and supervisor in the online application.
In addition, you will be required to upload the following supporting documents:
- Official translated Transcript and Certificate for degrees completed (official incomplete transcript if currently studying)
- English language proficiency
- Research Proposal
- Reference letters if you already have them from the referees, otherwise the Department will request them.
Colleges and Accommodation
If you have a preference for a particular College or Society please indicate this on your application. Every effort will be made by the Colleges and Student Experience Office to arrange membership with the College or Society you request.
We Process Your Application
We will process your application on the basis of all the information provided and will endeavour to let you know as soon as possible. In certain circumstances, we may need to request further information.
In many cases, the Department will want to interview the applicant before recommending approval of the application. If appropriate, the department will contact you to inform you about the interview details and arrange such an interview. In order for the Department to recommend approval of the application, it will be sent to the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office along with a recommendation for approval. (The Department will contact you directly if it is unable to recommend your application for approval.) Applicants may be made conditional offers based on outstanding qualifications. Applicants who fail to meet the conditions of their offer will, in general, not be admitted to the University.
The Student Recruitment and Admissions Office is responsible for approving all postgraduate applications. You should be aware that approval by the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office is not a formality and that in some cases where a Department has recommended approval, the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office will be unable to support this. Until you receive a formal offer from the University's Student Recruitment and Admissions Office, you have not received a formal offer of a place.
We aim to deal with your application as quickly as possible and most forms are processed within four to six weeks of receipt.
If you still have questions about application requirements or procedures, please contact:
Department of Earth Sciences
Durham UniversityLower Mountjoy
Durham, DH1 3LE
T: +44 (0)191 334 2198