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Earth Surface Science, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
University rank #126 (QS) ,
Our research seeks to integrate the global-scale phenomena that force environmental change with an understanding of the micro-scale process mechanics and feedbacks that configure the local form, structure and dynamics of the Earth’s surface.


Research carried out by our staff is helping to define the emerging science of the Earth’s surface and focuses on three overarching questions:

What processes drive the dynamics and co-evolution of rivers and their ecosystems?  

Our research has demonstrated the two-way nature of the feedbacks between the physical and biological processes of fluvial systems and has shown how these interactions help to explain the complex three-dimensional form and dynamics of the rivers that drain the Earth’s surface. Research in this theme contributes to building the fundamental foundations of a quantitative river science whilst also enhancing the scientific-basis for sustainable river management. Our current research focuses on three key areas: (i) developing innovative geospatial technologies and methods to quantify the structure and dynamics of braided rivers over both event and decadal timescales (Angela Gurnell); (ii) innovative conceptual models of the interactions between aquatic biota, hydrodynamic and sedimentological processes (Angela Gurnell, Gemma Harvey and Geraldene Wharton); and (iii) the use of numerical methods to predict to the response of river systems to land-use change and simulate flood hazards (Alex Henshaw).

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 12 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • establishing the environmental context for the dispersal of the first ancient humans in Britain;
  • advancing the application of ostracods for palaeoclimatic reconstruction;
  • (iii) generating independent palaeoprecipitation data from mountain glacier reconstructions to constrain regional climate models;
  • (iv) extending the application of luminescence dating to proximal glacio-lacustrine sediments;
  • and developing novel insights into the timing and extent of Mediterranean glaciation.

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Schedule IELTS
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English Academic) is a language test that enables students to demonstrate their writing, listening, speaking, and reading skills when applying to study in English. Delivered and marked by computer, it reports on a scale between 10 and 90.

General Requirements

  • Completed application form
  • Degree transcripts. Please provide a transcript of your degree(s). If you have not yet completed your degree please provide a transcript of your results achieved to date
  • Please provide the contact details of two referees on your application, at least one reference must be from an academic referee who is in a position to comment on the standard of your academic work and suitability for postgraduate level study. Where appropriate, a second referee can provide comment on your professional experience.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)/ Resume
  • Statement of purpose 
  • IELTS/TOEFL certificate (if applicable)

Tuition Fee

Living costs for London

  • 1137 - 2160 GBP/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


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