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Sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeobiology

Research Sedimentology and stratigraphy with The Open University ( Image by Angela Coe).

The study of sedimentary rocks and the fossils contained within them is critical to our understanding of the Earth system and the evolution of life. Studies using and developing sedimentological, stratigraphical and palaeobiological techniques form two themes in the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group within the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems Sciences at the OU. Research in these themes include micro- and macro-fossil studies into evolutionary change through Earth history, plant morphology, sequence stratigraphy and the use of sedimentary records of orbital forcing to develop geological timescales. A major focus of current research is the use of sedimentary rocks as archives of past environmental and sea-level change. As such, this work brings together both sedimentological and stratigraphical investigations with geochemical analyses of sedimentary rocks and fossils to develop novel proxies for tracing ancient environmental change.

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on topics related to sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeontology, as well as topics related to 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

  • Palaeoenvironmental change in the Early Jurassic: A north African perspective
  • Diversity and disparity at the dawn of fern evolution
  • Unravelling the tectonic and climatic controls on Upper Jurassic mass flow deposits in NE Scotland
  • Assessing the nature of the stratigraphic record and its utility for understanding the Earth system
  • Exploring the links between orbital forcing of climate and large-scale sea-level change in the geological record
  • Investigating the biotic responses to large scale environmental change in Earth history
  • The development and refinement of geological timescales using orbital chronologies
  • Miocene vegetation in the African tropics
  • Foram ecology and biocalcification
  • Plio-Pleistocene monsoon-driven coccolithophore productivity and evolution

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Pallavi Anand – biocalcification and foraminifera and phytoplankton ecology
  • Dr Marcus Badger – organic geochemical temperature and atmospheric CO2 proxies
  • Dr Angela Coe – sedimentology, stratigraphy, sea-level change and biological responses to extreme environmental change
  • Luke Mander – palaeobiology including palynology and plant morphology
  • Dr Philip Sexton – palaeoceanography and marine plankton

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.