UCL Earth Sciences


Doctoral Studies

Available PhD topics, current PhD projects, open projects, NERC and other funding bodies

Although many people do a PhD in order to go into academia, it can also be very beneficial for careers in industry and the private sector. A PhD is hard work and takes at least 3 years to complete, so you need to find a suitable topic, which will engage your enthusiasm and interest for the long-haul.


Funded projects open for applications

If you are interested in applying to do a specific PhD project in our Department (self-initiated, self-funded or through a non-DTP studentship), you should direct your initial enquiry to the named supervisor (or co-supervisor) who can guide you further. In cases of uncertainty, you may also direct your enquiry to the Graduate Tutor. Once a supervisor has agreed in principle to supervise your project, or if you are applying for a specific funded studentship, you must complete a formal UCL PhD application.

Earth Sciences Open Projects

At present we do not have any new PhD projects available.


The London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).

The PhD topics shown here are representative examples of projects offered by our department that are eligible for funding through the London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). The London DTP offers studentships  covering all aspects of earth and environmental science, hosted by different London-based academic institutions including UCL.

If you are interested in any topic below, please contact the named supervisor for more information in the first instance. To apply for a DTP studentship, please do not apply to UCL directly but instead follow the DTP instructions. Whilst the topics illustrate a cross-section of active research within our Department, the list is not exhaustive and we also welcome enquiries from students who wish to formulate their own topics.

Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Constraining the Past and Future Distribution of Crocodylians

Philip Mannion NERC

Using the Past to Improve Predictions of the Future of Vertebrate Biodiversity

Philip MannionAlex PigotNERC
Evolution & Adaptation

Size control on extinction dynamics in Cenozoic planktonic foraminifera

Bridget WadeAndy Purvis, NHMNERC
Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes

The importance of micronutrient cycling in glaciated environments for the global carbon cycle – a case study from Greenland

Susan LittlePhilip Pogge Von StrandmannNERC

The aridity, drought and biodiversity impacts of Solar Geoengineering

Peter IrvineTim NewboldNERC

Ice sheet-ocean-climate interactions during the Pleistocene Ice Ages

David WilsonHeather Ford - QMULNERC

Mapping Rain on Snow Events Across the Arctic Landscape

Julienne StroeveMichel TsamadosNERC

Data assimilation of satellite snow thickness products in the Arctic Ocean

Michel TsamadosJulienne StroeveNERC

Testing Earth’s thermostat with novel isotope tracers

David WilsonSusan LittleNERC
Environmental Pollution


Natural and Biological Hazards


Past Life and Environments
Timing and controls on evolution of deep-marine lobe and related deposits, Eocene Hecho Group, Jaca basin, Spanish Pyrenees.
Kevin PickeringPaul BownNERC

Signs of life in Paleoarchean chemical sedimentary rocks

Dominic Papineau NERC

The Evolutionary and biogeographic impact of the break up of Gondwana during the Cretaceous and Cenozoic

Paul Upchurch NERC

Quantifying temperature changes in the Oligocene icehouse 

Bridget Wade NERC
Solid Earth Dynamics

The initial condition for the long-term evolution of terrestrial planets

Maxim BallmerJohn BrodholtNERC

The seismic signals of the heterogeneous Earth mantle

Maxim BallmerPaula KoelemeijerNERC

The dynamics of mantle plumes, and their geophysical and geochemical expressions

Maxim BallmerAna FerreiraNERC

Glacial erosion in the tropics: The Santa Marta Range, southern Caribbean

Matthew FoxAndy Carter, BBKNERC

What can long period seismic tremors tell us about physical-chemical processes inside active volcanoes?

Alex The-Ru Song NERC