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Present-day and Palaeoenvironmental change

Upper Triassic strata at St. Audrie’s Bay, Somerset, U.K. (Photo: Anthony Cohen)

Present-day environmental change is now high on the international agenda but the trajectory of future change, particularly past the end of the present century, is hard to predict with confidence. Academics and researchers within the discipline of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems at the OU have active interests in present-day, anthropogenically driven environmental change from the perspective afforded by our study of the natural changes that have controlled Earth’s environment over its 4.5 billion-year history. Our research is frequently interdisciplinary and is underpinned by the latest methods and approaches in fieldwork and laboratory analysis. 

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent); prior research experience is preferred.

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any geochemical, sedimentological, biotic or geochronological aspect of present-day or palaeoenvironmental change. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available for a 2018 start will become available towards the end of 2017.

Please also see further opportunities.

Current/recent research projects

  • Assessing the stratigraphic record and its utility for understanding the Earth system
  • The development and refinement of geological timescales using orbital chronologies
  • A multi-proxy isotope approach to reconstructing seawater oxygenation
  • Environmental change during the Early Jurassic- A North African perspective
  • Quantifying Quaternary Climate Change in the Tropical Andes using non-biting Midges (Chironomids)
  • Past environmental change in the Amazon basin
  • Microfossil extinction, diversification and abundance changes associated with the Toarcian period of extreme environmental change
  • 500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes
  • The impact of recent Ocean Acidification on bio-calcification
  • Response of Amazonian tropical forests to past changes in global climate
  • Ocean circulation patterns during the early/middle Eocene climatic warmth
  • Development of biogeochemical proxies and application over glacial-interglacial cycles
  • Unravelling the tectonic and climatic controls on Upper Jurassic mass flow deposits in NE Scotland
  • Late Pliocene stratification and productivity reconstructions: linking monsoon evolution and climate
  • Diversity and disparity at the dawn of fern evolution

Potential supervisors

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 858253

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.