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Present-day and Palaeoenvironmental change

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

Environmental changes in Earth history can be used to help understand and predict the trajectory of future anthropogenically-driven environmental change. The Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the OU are actively researching the course and drivers of changes in the Earth’s environment over its 4.5 billion-year history.  The terrestrial and marine sedimentary record provides examples of climate change over different timescales and the opportunity to examine the Earth’s response over long timescales. 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 2019 start will become available towards the end of 2018.

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
  • 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
  • Investigating the biotic responses to large-scale environmental change in Earth history

Potential supervisors

Further information

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

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 332 943

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