Geography MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

As well as providing world-leading disciplinary and interdisciplinary research training, our programmes provide outstanding opportunities for networking across public, private and third sector organisations. With extensive experience in building partnerships, knowledge transfer, applied research and public engagement and impact, UCL Geography enables doctoral students to enhance their employment prospects while pursuing cutting-edge research.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

Research programmes may start at any time of the year, but typically begin in September.

Entry requirements

Normally a UK Master’s degree in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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: Good

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

UCL Geography is an established international leader in geographical research. We are committed to theoretically informed empirical research on major social and environmental issues. The department is distinctive in the scale and diversity of its research, as well as its international scope, collaborative links and policy orientation.

Students are central to the department's research culture, and are offered access to specialist laboratories and computing facilities as well as professional development opportunities, including training, teaching experience and academic event hosting.

Research Areas

  • Past climates
  • Recent environmental change and biodiversity
  • Environmental modelling and observation
  • Global urbanisms
  • Environment, politics and society
  • Culture and migration
  • Geospatial analytics and computing

More information can be found on the departmental website: Geography MPhil/PhD

Who this course is for

What this course will give you

UCL Geography provides a world-class environment for research students. UCL has been ranked the leading university in the UK for its research strength and the department, which is consistently rated among the best geography departments in the country, is currently ranked eighth in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017).

Students work towards an MPhil or PhD supported by seminars, training and a dedicated supervisory team of expert academics. The department attracts prestigious scholarships and studentships to support graduate research and enables students to conduct fieldwork around the world.

The foundation of your career


A significant number of our recent research graduates have gone on to lectureships and many others into university research, at institutions such as King’s College London, the University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore and California College of the Arts. Having gained a variety of technical and analytical skills as well as in-depth substantive expertise in particular fields, others have entered professions within government, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.


Our graduate students attend and participate in seminars, workshops and conferences within the department and within interdisciplinary research centres across UCL, and are encouraged to make use of opportunities to network with leading academics across a variety of research fields. RCUK-funded students in the department have additional opportunities to interact with non-academic partners, to develop collaborations and to spend time developing their skills in public, private and third sector organisations. Students are also supported to participate in public workshops, seminars, conferences and other events related to their research, providing further occasions for networking.

Teaching and learning

Research areas and structure

  • Past climates
  • Recent environmental change and biodiversity
  • Environmental modelling and observation
  • Global urbanisms
  • Environment, politics and society
  • Culture and migration
  • Geospatial analytics and computing

Please visit the departmental website for full details on the research areas.

Research environment

UCL Geography is an established international leader in geographical research. We are committed to theoretically-informed empirical research on major social and environmental issues. The department is distinctive in the scale and diversity of its research, as well as its international scope, collaborative links and policy orientation. We support a multiplicity of styles and scales of research, nurturing the very best of individual scholarship, concentrating strategically in areas where we can make a distinctive, significant and conceptually innovative contribution.

The quality of individual researchers in Geography, allied with our institutional strengths, laboratories and computing facilities should provide you with the opportunity to develop your projects, upgrade to PhD status, and to realise your research at PhD level. The aim is to support you to complete your project within the timescales envisaged by UCL and funding bodies. In addition to developing necessary skills for your research with the supervisory teams, generic research training is offered in weekly seminars in term two of year one. A wide range of professional development opportunities, including training, teaching positions and academic event hosting should also be available to you. The department also attracts prestigious scholarships and studentships for postgraduate research, enabling you to conduct fieldwork around the world.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is 3 years for full-time and 5 years for part-time. 

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9- 18 months after initial registration.

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may register as a completing research student (CRS) while you write up your thesis.  

In your first year, in the second term, you are required to take part in a departmental mandatory programme of weekly training seminars. The seminars aim to develop your understanding of what the (UCL) PhD is, build towards your research presentation and upgrade, and strengthen your ability to complete an excellent PhD in a timely manner. Importantly the seminars also serve to enhance the research student community by getting you together with your peers to discuss your projects once a week.

In your second year you are expected to upgrade from an MPhil to a PhD. To successfully upgrade to a PhD you are required to submit a piece of writing (this is usually based on at least one chapter from your thesis and a chapter plan for the remainder). You are also required to present and answer questions about this work to an upgrade panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and another member of the department/faculty who acts as an independent assessor. You must also make a presentation in the department and have a web page on the Geography Department website.


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 (2022/23) £5,690 £2,845
Tuition fees (2022/23) £22,900 £11,530

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

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

Past research students have received funding through a range of awards such as the UK Research Council, University and Commonwealth Scholarships, and we also have a number of students who self-fund or obtain work-associated funding. Funding opportunities vary from year to year, so please check the UCL Geography website for up-to-date information.

UCL scholarships and sources of funding may also be available; please check our Scholarships and Funding website. You should take note of funding application deadlines as these will differ from programme application deadlines.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

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 in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. The programme may remain open if places are still available after 31 March 2022 and will be closed as soon as it is full or by 30 June 2022.

Got questions? Get in touch

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