Sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeobiology

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

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.

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 topics related to sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeobiology (macro- and micro-fossil), as well as topics related to palaeoenvironmental change.

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

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.


Sedimentary rocks

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

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If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please review the application process.