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Earth Sciences MPhil/PhD

The Department of Earth Sciences is engaged in world-class research into the processes at work on and within the Earth and other planets. The department has strong links with resources and hazard risk industries with most graduates finding employment within academia or geoscience-related industries.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 5 years

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£4,770 (FT) £2,385 (PT)
£22,180 (FT) £11,090 (PT)

Application dates

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.
Fees note: All fees quoted are for new students only for 2016 entry. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase by approximately 3-5%.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:


Our expertise spans the dynamics of the Earth and planets, the materials that compose them and their properties, present and past processes occurring at their surfaces, the evolution of life and the environment, and the applied geosciences of natural hazards pollution and resources.

Research areas

  • Dynamics and evolution of the crust: rock mechanics; high-pressure/high-temperature mineralogy and geochemistry
  • Environmental geochemistry: pollution; hydrogeology; hydrochemistry; water resources Natural hazards: assessment of hazard and risk posed by geological events
  • Palaeoclimate, palaeobiology and palaeoenvironments: micropalaeontology; vertebrate palaeontology; the Earth’s past climates and environments
  • Satellite observation and modelling of polar climate and change
  • Structure, geodynamics and evolution of the Earth and planets.


Our PhDs are funded by a variety of routes, but common ones include UK Research council funding (e.g. NERC, EPSRC, STFC), European funding (e.g. ERC) and collaborations co-sponsored by industrial partners (CASE awards); some PhD students also fund themselves. The cost of a PhD is in two parts: (a) fees and (b) stipend.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Fees, maintenance and travel (Duration of programme)
Overseas students
Based on academic merit

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding website


Recent graduates have chosen either to pursue a career in academia as postdoctoral researchers or seek employment in the oil, gas and mineral extraction industries. These have included positions as micropalaeontologists, geologists, hydrogeologists, stratigraphers, sedimentologists, geophysicists in the public sector (Environment Agency, National Physics Laboratory) and private sector (Badley Ashton Reservoir Geoscience).

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Geoscientist, Nestix
  • Teaching Fellow, Aberystwyth University
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Eawag Aquatic Institute
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, UCL
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, NOAA


Many of our recent graduate research students have moved straight on to postdoctoral research positions at UCL and elsewhere that can then be used as a platform for beginning an academic career. Many others continue their research in government or non-government agencies as well as industry.


The department hosts the NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility, Aon Benefield UCL Hazard Research Centre, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and engages in extensive collaborative work with the Royal Institution and the Natural History Museum and many other external research institutions. The department and UCL maintain an alumni network where professional events are organised to help new graduates embark on their chosen career.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The Earth Sciences Department at UCL is one of the leading earth sciences departments in the UK. World-class facilities are available to our students; these include NASA’s European Regional Planetary Image Facility (hosted by the department) and many state-of-the-art mineral physics and geochemistry laboratories. Graduate research students are given the opportunity to contribute and develop their communication and leadership skills as demonstrators, especially in laboratory and field classes. They acquire teaching skills through specially arranged training courses, and are encouraged to benefit from wider college activities available to them at UCL.

The London Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) offers between 30 and 40 studentships each year in earth and environmental sciences. Its aim is to attain new standards of excellence in environmental science research training and deliver a transformative inter-disciplinary experience for PhD students in the heart of London. Our students will be trained during the first half-year by 9 of the world's leading research centres, before embarking on their specific projects in one of those institutions, including UCL. Please view the themes and associated PhD projects at http://london-nerc-dtp.org/. If you are interested in applying please follow us and sign up to our RSS feed for updates.

Student / staff ratios › 56 staff including 24 postdocs › 53 taught students › 60 research students

Department: Earth Sciences

Degree reviews

Staff review

"UCL has a unique combination of experimental and theoretical expertise in the area of Mineral Physics, which I work in, but it is the excellent collaborations I have with my colleagues that keeps me here."

Professor David Dobson

I teach in the Department of Earth Sciences Master’s programmes and I supervise Master’s student projects.
Professor of Earth Materials
Student review

"As part of my PhD project I was able to take part in a three-week summer school, the Urbino Summer School of Palaeoclimatology. This was a very valuable experience where international lecturers gave talks on their research."

Cherry Newsam

Earth Sciences PhD

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Application deadlines

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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