Geographical Sciences (Physical Geography)Find a programme
|Awards available||PhD, MSc by research|
PhD: Three years full-time, or part-time equivalent
MSc by Research: One year full-time, or part-time equivalent
|Location of programme||Clifton campus|
|Part-time study available||Yes|
|Start date||Start dates flexible; usually September 2018.|
The School of Geographical Sciences is a leading international centre for research. It has been ranked the top geography department in the UK in every government assessment of research excellence, including the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment in 2014. The graduate school is integral to this success. We have a large and vibrant graduate community, with students following PhD, MSc by research and taught MSc programmes. The graduate community has a strong international and interdisciplinary flavour, and offers an exceptional academic environment for postgraduate research.
Research opportunities encompass a wide range of subjects at the leading edge of geographical research. There are also many exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary research, spanning research groups and departments. Visit the School of Geographical Sciences web pages for more information about our research staff and collective research interests.
Alternatively, you may be interested in our PhD in Geographical Sciences (Human Geography).
Fees for 2018/19
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:
- UK/EU: full-time
- UK/EU: part-time
- Overseas: full-time
- Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time
Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (e.g. training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.
Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.
University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.
Funding for 2018/19
Each year the school is awarded between two and six NERC studentships (including CASE awards), one to two EPSRC studentships, EU-funded studentships, and several industry-funded studentships. Applicants should also check the School of Geographical Sciences website.
Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.
An upper second-class honours degree (or an equivalent qualification) in a relevant subject.
See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.
Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.
The school's physical geography research is focused on a number of themes. These are based on UK Research Council priority areas and the interests of industrial and other stakeholders. Our three research groups are:
Global Environmental Change
The Bristol Research Initiative for the Dynamic Global Environment (BRIDGE) group aims to improve the understanding of natural climate and environmental variability and the relationship between global carbon cycling and climate. This knowledge is used to improve our predictions of future change and its impact on all aspects of ecosystems and human society.
The Bristol Glaciology Centre leads world-class research into ice sheet processes, subglacial environments and sea level change. Its aim is to increase understanding of the present, past and future behaviour of ice sheets and glaciers, and the links between the cryosphere, oceans and atmosphere under changing climatic conditions.
The Hydrology Research Group focuses on research into the modelling of hydrologic and hydraulic problems using advanced numerical methods. In particular, it specialises in modelling river flooding, water quality monitoring, uncertainty analysis techniques, catchment and hillslope transport processes, combined with field monitoring and large-scale experimental work.
Students who complete a PhD in Physical Geography typically move on to careers in academia (postdoctoral research, lectureships), further research in government or private institutes, environmental consultancy, teaching, the civil service, computer programming or IT consultancy.
Professor Alexandre Anesio, (Professor), Low-temperature biogeochemistry; photochemistry; polar microbiology; transformations of dissolved organic matter.
Professor Jonathan Bamber, (Professor), Applications of remote sensing data to problems in climatology, in particular, related to the polar regions.
Dr Rory Bingham, (Lecturer), Understanding the drivers of sea level change, including large-scale ocean dynamics, ocean heat changes and mass exchange with the ice sheets; using gravity to observe the ocean’s circulation, with a focus on the polar oceans.
Professor Antony Payne, (Professor), Numerical modelling of environmental systems and glaciology.
Professor Martyn Tranter, (Professor), Biogeochemical processes in the cryosphere, including those on the surface and beneath glaciers and ice sheets; impacts of glaciers and ice sheets on local, regional and global geochemical cycles.
Professor Jemma Wadham, (Professor), Geochemistry and hydrology of Arctic and Alpine regions; hydrochemistry of polythermal glaciers and chemical weathering mechanisms in subglacial runoff.
Global Environmental Change
Jo House, (Reader in Environmental Science and Policy), climate policy; land and climate interactions
Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo, Biogeochemical cycles; cyanobacteria evolution
Dr Rachel Flecker, (Reader), Ancient climates; environmental technology; isotope geochemistry; marginal marine systems; sedimentology.
Professor Dan Lunt, (Professor), The Earth system from the Pliocene to the Eocene, with a focus on Antarctica.
Dr Dann Mitchell, (Lecturer), global and regional climate change
Dr Fanny Monteiro, (NERC Fellow), Linking marine ecosystem, biogeochemical cycles and climate.
Dr David Richards, (Senior Lecturer), Geochronology; isotope geochemistry; landscape evolution.; quaternary sea-level and climate change.
Professor Paul Valdes, (Professor), Climate and environmental change, with a particular emphasis on understanding past changes in the Earth system and how this relates to future environmental changes and their impacts.
Professor Paul Bates, (Professor), Hydraulic and hydrologic modelling; uncertainty analysis and fluvial geomorphology.
Professor Jim Freer, (Professor), Catchment hydrology; field experiments and computer simulations for hydrology and water quality; flood forecasting and flood inundation under climate change; hillslope processes; phosphorous and soil erosion modelling in agricultural systems; uncertainty analysis in environmental modelling.
Professor Penny Johnes, (Professor), Adaptation; biogeochemistry of inland and coastal waters; environmental pollution; policy and management; risk.
Dr Katerina Michaelides, (Senior Lecturer), Dryland processes; hillslope hydrology and geomorphology; laboratory experimentation; modelling; nutrient and contaminant transport; sediment transport.
Dr Jeffrey Neal, (Lecturer), Data assimilation; flood risk; hydraulic modelling.
Not fixed, but funding application deadlines will usually be between January and March.
Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.
REF 2014 results
- 51% of research is world-leading (4 star)
- 33% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
- 14% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
- 2% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)
Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.
The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.