Oceanography and palaeoceanography

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

You have probably heard the Earth called “the blue planet”. What is less understood is that the blue colour – the oceans – are largely responsible for controlling the climate. In the Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group at the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems Sciences, our mission is to untangle some of these key Earth system processes that drive the planet’s climate. Our oceanography and palaeoceanography research ranges from reconstructing past ocean environments to the current decay of the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctic.

Our particular areas of expertise are in the development and use of unique biominerals as inorganic and organic geochemical proxies in state-of-the-art laboratories, and collecting vital data in remote field work in some of the least-visited areas of the planet. We welcome applications from potential students interested in working in these vital science areas.

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 palaeoceanography and polar oceanography linked to the expertise of the potential supervisors.

Current/recent research projects

  • Onset of the Antarctic circumpolar current and the oceanographic isolation of Antarctica
  • Phytoplankton productivity and evolution during the Plio-Pleistocene
  • Reconstruction of past changes in North Atlantic overturning using neodymium isotopes
  • Ocean circulation, properties and variability in Marguerite Bay, west Antarctic Peninsula
  • Sea ice thickness and iceberg distribution in the Southern Ocean
  • Indian Summer Monsoon evolution during the late Pliocene
  • Climate and carbon cycle instability during extreme ‘greenhouse’ warmth
  • Reconstruction of Indian Summer Monsoon response to global climate change
  • Reconstructing past ocean oxygenation and its relationship to global warmth
  • Understanding uncertainty in the weak underbelly of Antarctica
  • Assessing the impact of ocean acidification-induced changes on calcification and ecology of planktonic foraminifera
  • Develop biogeochemical proxies to understand foraminifera calcification and past ocean chemistry.

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Pallavi Anand – ocean biogeochemical proxies, monsoon dynamics and palaeoceanography
  • Dr Marcus Badger – organic geochemical temperature and atmospheric CO2 proxies application and climate modelling
  • Prof. Mark Brandon – the interaction of the ocean with the cryosphere
  • Prof. Neil Edwards – climate models, carbon cycle and palaeoceanography
  • Dr Philip Sexton – climatic change during the Eocene and mid-Cretaceous ‘greenhouse’ regimes, and the relationships between ocean circulation, ocean carbonate chemistry, and atmospheric CO2

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.


Iceberg and broken ice

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Administrative 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.