Earth system modelling

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

Earth system modelling and integrated assessment modelling are about investigating the future of the Earth system and the response to ongoing climate change. Ultimately a key aim is testing the effectiveness of environment policies in producing desirable outcomes for society. At the OU we use a range of Earth system models of intermediate complexity to study past and future change in the Earth system and related socio-economic developments.

We are particularly interested in the quantification of uncertainty, and the long-timescale dynamics of the Earth system, including the interactions between environment and biodiversity. We also work on the development of human civilisation and the socio-economic dynamics of climate change mitigation policy. The group regularly has studies of past and future change published in Nature and Science journals.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on all aspects of Earth system modelling linked to the expertise of the potential supervisors. 

Current/recent research projects

  • Transient climate-carbon cycle simulations of the Last Interglacial
  • The use of statistical emulators in climate modelling
  • Investigations into the glacial-interglacial change in atmospheric CO2
  • Statistical emulation for environmental sustainability analysis
  • Sustainable infrastructures for inclusivity in south-south cooperation
  • Understanding uncertainty in the weak underbelly of Antarctica
  • The oceanographic impact of the Weddell Sea Polynya.

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,712 per year Full time: £15,456 per year
Part time: £2,356 per year Part time: £7,584 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Central England NERC Training Alliance; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Weather system

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Administration Support

Email: STEM-EEES-PhD-Admin
Phone: +44 (0)1908 332943

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.