Earth Sciences MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

UCL 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.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 1

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Our expertise spans the dynamics of the Earth and other planets, the materials they are composed of and their properties, present and past processes occurring at and below their surfaces, the evolution of life and the environment, and the applied geosciences of natural hazards, pollution and resources. Students pursuing a research degree in Earth Sciences will work in one or a combination of these areas.

Who this course is for

This programme is best suited to those seeking to continue their learning and professional development through undertaking independent research, including those aiming for an academic career or research project management in industry. The ability to think critically and to problem solve are especially useful attributes.

What this course will give you

UCL Earth Sciences is one of the leading Earth Sciences departments in the UK ranking 6th in the UK in the QS World University Rankings 2022 for Earth and Marine Sciences. World-class facilities are available to our students; these include the rock mechanics, micropalaeontology, and diamond anvil cell labs, the Hazard centre, NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (hosted by the department), and many state-of-the-art geophysics 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 activities available to them at UCL.

The London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) offers between 20 and 30 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.

The foundation of your career

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-governmental agencies as well as in industry.


Recent graduates have chosen either to pursue a career in academia as postdoctoral researchers, or seek employment in resource and hazard-risk industries. These have included positions as micropalaeontologists, geologists, hydrogeologists, stratigraphers, sedimentologists, and geophysicists, as well as remote sensing experts in the public (Environment Agency, National Physics Laboratory, NASA) and private sectors (Badley Ashton Reservoir Geoscience).


The department hosts cutting-edge facilities, including the UCL Hazard Centre, the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, a large suite of rock and ice physics laboratories, and the London Geochemistry and Isotope Centre. UCL Earth Sciences has strong links with resources and hazard risk industries, climate policy, and with the space sector including the UK's only NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility, Birkbeck's Planetary Sciences and Mullard Space Science Laboratory. The department and UCL maintain an alumni network where professional events are organised to help new graduates embark on their chosen career.

Teaching and learning

The London NERC Doctoral Training Program  (

Research areas and structure

  • 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.

Research environment

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.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £5,860 £2,930
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

There are no programme-specific costs.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

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.

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

Value: Fees, maintenance and travel (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on academic merit
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Next steps

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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Year of entry: 2022-2023

Got questions? Get in touch

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