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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Research in Palaeontology

The Palaeoecosystems group is currently expanding. We are recruiting individuals with an interest in pursuing an undergraduate internships or summer projects; Masters by Research; or PhDs. We are also looking to attract postdoctoral fellows whose research interests complement those of the group.

Masters by Research

We welcome applications from undergraduate students looking to undertake MScR training.

Potential projects include:

Applicants should be on track to receive a strong Bachelor's degree.

Applications are due in early April, with interviews soon thereafter. Applicants will automatically be considered for a Stephen Mills Scholarship, which covers tuition fees at the home/EU rate. We may be able to consider self-funded applications received after this date.

We welcome enquiries or project proposals from potential applicants. Overseas applicants may be eligible for Erasmus, Fullbright, Chevening or other scholarships.


The most popular routes to PhDs in the Palaeoecosystems group are:

  • RCUK-funded projects (home students): these are advertised each autumn through the NERC Iapetus doctoral training program; applications are due by mid-January. If you'd like to propose your own project, get in touch over the summer.
  • Durham Doctoral Studentships: these highly competitive positions allow a home or overseas student to take up a project advertised under the RCUK umbrella, or one of their own devising. Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors well in advance of the mid-January deadline.
  • Personal scholarships: many overseas students are eligible for international funding routes, which may be tied to an advertised project or to a project devised jointly with a potential supervisor – feel free to get in touch

Past projects posted for a 2020 start include:

Postdoctoral Fellowships

We invite potential Postdoctoral Fellowships with compatible research interests to join the Palaeoecosystems group, and welcome the opportunity to support any potential applications. Besides national and international schemes (e.g. NERC/Leverhulme/Royal Society), Durham offers Addison Wheeler Fellowships.

We will soon be recruiting a postdoctoral research assistant to work on the stratigraphy of the Cambrian explosion, with an anticipated start date in 2021/22; contact Martin Smith for details.

Undergraduate Research

A range of undergraduate-level research projects are available for Durham and non-Durham students who wish to gain palaeontological experience. Bursaries may be available from the Palaeontological Association (Deadline: late February).