The excellence of Bristol's social science research was confirmed by the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021). According to the Times Higher Education's analysis of REF 2021, The School of Geographical Sciences ranked first in the UK for the fifth REF cycle in a row.

We have a large and vibrant postgraduate community, focusing both on PhDs by research and on taught programmes. Our postgraduate community is international and interdisciplinary and offers an exceptional academic environment for postgraduate research. We also have a 100% completion rate over the past five years for UKRI-funded PhD students.

Research opportunities span a variety of subjects at the leading edge of geographical research. Our research groups span a range of human geographical research. These include the History and Culture Research Group, the Geographies of Political Economy Research Group, and the Quantitative Spatial Science Research Group. Within these three main groups, postgraduate research covers the gamut, from health and housing inequalities to embodied posthuman geographies, to urban sustainability futures, to the environmental humanities, to improving techniques of quantitative modelling and machine learning, to geopolitics, decolonial geographies, and political ecology.

There is also a range of exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary research that cross and connect research groups and departments. Supervision is possible across schools and faculties.

Alternatively, you may be interested in our PhD in Geographical Sciences (Physical Geography).

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree in a relevant subject or an equivalent qualification and a master's qualification from a UK university (or equivalent).

The School welcomes applicants with an interest in utilising ESRC and UKRI secondary datasets in their research projects.

The School of Geographical Sciences, like many other Schools and Departments across the University, is committed to efforts to decolonise our curricula and transform our research and teaching as part of these efforts. We especially welcome applicants interested in supporting this work, and we encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and geographies to apply.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level D.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,758 per year
UK: part-time
£2,379 per year
Overseas: full-time
£20,700 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC scholarships. Applicants may also be interested in applying for funding from the University of Bristol scholarship fund or alumni PhD scholarship fund.

The School of Geographical Sciences also has very limited PhD funding available for applicants via the Liv Sidse Jansen Memorial Fund (for BME applicants only) and the PGTA Scholarship program. Please see the School's Postgraduate Scholarship page for details.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

Academic research and teaching, NGO research, education, civil service research and administration, policy analysis and development, industry, market research, consultancy, journalism, writing and communications, advocacy and activism, community development, and project management.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Research groups

There are three main research groups:

  • Geographies of Political Economy
    Research expertise includes cities and urban change, neoliberalism, globalisation, governmentality, regulation and analytical political economy, critical political economy, social stratification, sustainable development, global development, rural development, livelihoods, coloniality, migration, and agroecology.
  • Historical and Cultural Geography
    Main interests include intellectual history, historical geographies of nature, landscape, and representation, contemporary social theory and philosophy, embodiment and materiality, posthumanisms, postcolonialism, decoloniality, feminist geographies, historical demographies of the UK, environmental history, ethics and subjectivity.
  • Quantitative Spatial Science
    Research focuses on quantitative analysis of social, housing, health and political data. Expertise in methods including multi-level modelling, GIS, spatial statistics, spatial time-series analysis, ecological inference and non-linear systems, geo-computation, and machine learning.

Contact us


Izzy Montgomery, Postgraduate Student Administrator

+44 (0) 0117 928 7872
Professor Susan Parnell, Programme Director