Research Degrees in

Geography and Environment

in the Faculty of Science & Engineering


Do you want to advance or change your career, deepen your expertise in a topic, or expand your research and practical skills?

With a PhD or other postgraduate research degree in the areas of Geography and Environment you will:

  • Work with leading experts in the field. Over half of of our research was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest national research evaluation exercise (REF2014).
  • Choose from our flexible study pathways. We offer PhD, MPhil and MSc by Research degrees which can be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis.
  • Join a thriving research community. We have a large number of young and emerging scholars in the field, who are committed to undertaking world-leading applied ecological and environmental research.
  • Use our state-of-the-art research facilities. We have impressive computing facilities to support climate modelling and environmental and spatial GIS modelling. Our high-spec laboratories include a 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer and a tandem liquid chromatography/mass spectrometer.
  • Benefit from a range of networking and fieldwork opportunities. We work with research institutions, industry partners, national organisations and NGOs. You will have the opportunity to join fieldwork and research projects in the UK and overseas.
  • Undertake tailored personal and professional development training. We offer a suite of training opportunities, focused on subject-specific and transferable skills.

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Areas of supervisory expertise

We can supervise a wide range of projects across the fields of Geography and environmental studies. Particular focus areas include:

  • Environment and earth systems
  • Air transport and the environment
  • Sustainability
  • Climate change science
  • Urban environments
  • Conservation ecology and environmental biology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Environmental change
  • Low carbon futures.

Find out more about our staff's expertise

Research culture

You will become a part of a large, multidisciplinary research community focused on theoretical and applied ecological and environmental research.

More about our research culture

We are home to several prominent research centres and programmes:

  • The new Ecology and Environment research centre aims to understand the effect of humans on our planet, and develop coping strategies to deal with the inevitable changes that take place.
  • The Centre for Aviation, Transport and the Environment has a global reputation for aviation-related research. It focuses on the environmental impacts of the exponential growth of air travel. Members of the centre were awarded Nobel certificates for their contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • The Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme is an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional programme to champion research into sustainable development.
  • The Urban Environments Research Group studies ways of addressing one of the fundamental environmental challenges of the future: how to create sustainable urban environments. 

Our research is characterised by strong collaborations across disciplines (including Geography, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Biology) and with external partners (including universities, industries and NGOs). Through these collaborations, we undertake research that delivers solutions that address challenges posed in environmental change and sustainability; socio-economic, cultural and political change; health; and advanced materials.

As a postgraduate researcher, you will be a core part of this research community. You will be encouraged to attend the regular seminars, workshops and lectures that take place on campus. You will also undertake a comprehensive range of research training to enhance your practical and theoretical skills.

Courses offered, duration, and start dates

Programmes offered

  • PhD (3 years full time, 6 years part time)
  • PhD by Published Work or Professional Practice (course duration varies by route taken and candidate's background)
  • Master's by Research (1 year full time, 2 years part time)
  • MPhil (18 months full time, 36 months part time).

Find out more about the different research degrees we offer

Start dates

The majority of our students enrol in October. We offer further enrolment points in January, April and July.

Distance learning

Research degrees are available to study on-campus or through distance learning.

Career prospects

A postgraduate research degree equips you with advanced skills and knowledge that enable you to build a rich and successful career in a range of sectors.

Our comprehensive training opportunities will help you develop theoretical and practical skills for careers in areas such as as academia, the charity sector, politics, research organisations, local and multinational corporations, NGOs, and urban and regional planning groups.

Course structure

This course is research based. You will independently conduct research into your own topic or a topic that we advertise. Your supervisory team will offer expert guidance throughout your studies and review work in progress.

Each year, you will follow a programme of training and development to enhance your research methods, subject-matter expertise and professional skills.

Fees and funding

Find out more

Postgraduate Research Degrees Fees

Please refer to our Fees page for more information on tuition fees.

Loans for research degrees

Many of our PhD and Professional Doctorate programmes are eligible for the government's Doctoral Loan Scheme. MPhil and MA/MSc by Research degrees are eligible for a Postgraduate Loan.

Find out more about tuition fees and financial support


Each year we offer a number of competitive scholarships to support high quality research projects. Current scholarship opportunities in Ecology and the Environment are advertised on our site.

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Entry requirements

Find out more

You should, as a minimum, have a first or 2.1 honours degree or an equivalent qualification.

International students must demonstrate a sufficiently high standard of English language ability.

We welcome interest from applicants from non-standard backgrounds. We will take subject knowledge, professional experience, publications, or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment into consideration.

See more about our standard entry requirements.


Before applying for a research degree, you should have a preliminary discussion with a member of staff about your project and ideas. To arrange this, please email Dr Oliver Sutcliffe,, the Research Degrees Co-ordinator for the Department of Life Sciences.

For further information on the application process, contact the Admissions team, +44 (0)161 247 2966

How to apply

Apply now

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online using the link below. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Before you apply, you should discuss your project with a member of academic staff. You should also complete the Postgraduate Research Degree Supplementary Information form which you will then upload to the ‘Student documents’ section of the application form. This collects key information about your research application and there may be delays if you do not submit this document.

Apply now
Postgraduate Study