Postgraduate research opportunities

Postgraduate research opportunities

Applications from prospective UK, EU and international students are welcome at any time.

Applying to undertake a PhD in Geographical and Earth Sciences

  • All applicants will need to complete the online registration process, accessible here
  • All applicants will need to upload information about their previous study (copies of your degree certificates and transcripts of undergraduate or previous degrees, and official translations if needed), a CV, and two supporting reference letters on headed paper. They must also upload a one page research proposal.
  • In addition, applicants whose first language (or the language of instruction for their first degree) is not English are required to include evidence of their English language ability. For more information please look here
  • International applicants will need to upload an image of their passport photo page.
  • Advice on visas can be obtained from the Recruitment and International Office (RIO). Information on the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) can be obtained from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (external page here).
  • Please be aware that this is an outline for application to undertake a PhD at the University of Glasgow. Scholarship competitions and other funded schemes (for example, Research Council awards) will have their own specific requirements alongside of this.


Scholarships to fund PhD students will be announced in October 2018

MSc by Research

Please see our Earth Systems Research for all current MSc by Research opportunities in

Please contact the named supervisor on your chosen project to discuss the proposed research before you apply.

Further details on how to apply for a research degree at the University of Glasgow are here

MSc by Research (Marine and Coastal Science projects)

There are many exciting opportunities for MScs by Research available in the School. Fee waivers (UK equivalent) may be available for suitably qualified candidates if the projects are Marine and Coastal research orientated. 

Currently available projects:

Ocean acidification analogues: CO2 venting variability and organismal adaptation

Supervisors: Drs Nick Kamenos (UofG), Tali Babila (U of California Santa Cruz), Noelle Lucey (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)

Ocean acidification (OA) is likely to detrimentally affect marine biodiversity and ecosystem function. Real-world contemporary studies are often conducted at marine CO2 vent representing analogues for future OA; these give us important information on the mechanistic responses of marine biota to changes in OA-induced carbonate chemistry. However, vent systems can be variable over time adding an extra dimension to organismal responses at vent sites. This research will assess venting variability at the Ischia vent system and determine its role as a driver of organismal responses to projected OA. The student will gain expertise in state-of-the-art approaches to analysing determining venting processes, with the potential opportunity to validate laboratory results at field vent sites.


Raising the dead: resilience of Black Corals revealed in their growth rates

Supervisors: Dr Nick Kamenos (UofG), Dr Marina Carreiro-Silva (University of the Azores).

Cold-water coral ecosystems are key biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea. Their structural complexity, created by the long-lived corals themselves, provides ecosystem services including essential fish habitat and carbon cycling. However, the three dimensions structures they create are extremely vulnerable to disturbance such as that caused by fishing; this alters their heterogeneity undermining the services they produce. A major step needed to quantify their resilience and protection requirements is to understand coral growth rates over the life of an individual and between individuals. This project will determine the growth rates of Azorean Black Corals (Leiopathes sp.) over their 2000 year-long life span along with their sensitivity to external disturbance. The student will gain expertise in state-of-the-art approaches to determining coral growth and sensitivity at annual to millennial time scales.


Spatiotemporal drivers of Atlantic environmental change during the last century

Supervisor: Dr Nick Kamenos (UofG), Prof. Trevor Hoey (UofG).

There is evidence of spatiotemporal differences in Atlantic environmental change over the last century. However at present we have a poor understanding of the drivers of such differences and the impacts the may have on marine productivity. This is because we do not have highly resolved spatiotemporal records of Atlantic variability over the last century. This project will determine spatiotemporal trends in the Atlantic marine environment over the last century using proxy-derived environmental reconstructions and the drivers of those trends. The student will gain expertise in state-of-the-art approaches to determining climatic variability and its drivers including assessing proxy-based reconstructions and modelling techniques. 



In the first instance contact Nick Kamenos to discuss proposed research projects before you apply.

Further details on how to apply for a research degree at the University of Glasgow are here


Earth Systems Research Group (ESRG)

PhD projects in the Earth Systems Research Group (ESRG)

Solid Earth

  • Anthropogenic geodiversity – how can Scotland’s industrial waste legacy contribute to geodiversity and biodiversity? Supervisors: Dr John MacDonald (University of Glasgow) and Prof. Alistair Jump (School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling)
  • How life and steel slag interact – physical, chemical and biological breakdown of slag and the implications for remediation. Supervisors: Dr John MacDonald (University of Glasgow) and Prof. Alistair Jump (School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling)

Planetary science

Fingerprinting the carbon cycle

  • Anthropogenic geodiversity – how can Scotland’s industrial waste legacy contribute to geodiversity and biodiversity? Supervisors: Dr John MacDonald (University of Glasgow) and Prof. Alistair Jump (School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling)
  • How life and steel slag interact – physical, chemical and biological breakdown of slag and the implications for remediation. Supervisors: Dr John MacDonald (University of Glasgow) and Prof. Alistair Jump (School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling)

Quantitative Geomorphology

NERC Funded PhD Studentships IAPETUS Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS is a NERC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership, and has 12 fully-funded postgraduate studentships for new, high-calibre PhD students in the 2018/2019 academic year.

Applications afor projects will be accepted from Nov 2017 and project details can be found here:


IAPETUS’ postgraduate studentships are tenable for between 3 and 4 years, depending on the doctoral research project the student is studying and provides the following package of financial support:

A tax-free maintenance grant set at the UK Research Council’s national rate, which in 2016/17 was £14,296.
Full payment of their tuition fees at the Home/EU rate & access to extensive research support funding.
Part-time award-holders are funded for between six (6) and eight (8) years and receive a maintenance grant at 50% of the full-time rate.

Eligibility: All applicants need to meet NERC’s eligibility criteria to be considered for an IAPETUS studentship and these are detailed in NERC’s current studentship handbook. IAPETUS is only able to consider applications from Home/European Union candidates. International candidates are not eligible to be considered and where an candidate from another EU country has not been resident in the UK for 3 years or more prior to the commencement of their studies with IAPETUS, they will only be eligible for a fees-only studentship.

IAPETUS is looking for candidates with the following qualities and backgrounds:

A first or 2:1 undergraduate degree, or have relevant comparable experience;
In addition, candidates may also hold or be completing a Masters degree in their area of proposed study or a related discipline; &
An outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as evidenced through the publication of articles, participation in academic conferences and other similar activities.
How To Apply:

Prospective applicants are first asked to contact the project primary supervisor to discuss their fit to the project. Please do this as early as possible. The supervisor will advise whether the candidate should submit an on-line application to the University of Glasgow for graduate school entry.

Instructions on how to apply to the University of Glasgow can be found here:

Importantly, in addition to the materials requested by the University of Glasgow (application form, transcripts, CV, references), applicants should also include a cover letter, no longer than 2 pages of A4 in length, detailing your reasons for applying for a PhD and why you have selected your chosen IAPETUS doctoral research project.

Summary of staff research areas in the ESRG

Solid Earth

Dr Daniel KoehnDaniel Koehn

Research interests: Fracturing, fluid flow, fracture sealing, geothermal systems




Dr Tim Dempster

Research interests: Using minerals to reveal crustal processes 





John MacDonald

Dr John Mac Donald

Research interests: Clumped carbonate isotopes as a paleothermometer 




Prof. Roderick BrownRoderick Brown

Research interests: Low-temp thermochronology, cosmogenic nuclides, geodynamics & landscape evolution



Dr Brian Bell

Research interests: Evolution of lava sequences, thermal influence of minor intrusions Brian Bell




Dr David Brown

Research interests: Volcanology and sedimentology David Brown




Dr Cristina Persano

Research interests: I use isotopes to measure how the landscape responds to perturbations‌

Dr Elizabeth Petrie

Photo of Elizabeth Petrie

Research interests: Geomatics, non-gravitational force effects on GPS orbits, higher order ionospheric effects on GPS



Dr Iain Neill

Research interests: Formation of the Earth`s lithosphere through geologic time Iain Neill





Fingerprinting the Carbon Cycle

Dr Nick KamenosNick Kamenos

Research interests: Blue carbon, ocean acidification, paleoclimate reconstruction 




Prof. Susan WaldronSusan Waldron

Research interests: Aquatic biogeochemical cycles, stable isotopes in biogeochemical cycles, stoichiometry 



Dr Jaime Toney

Jaime Toney

Research interests: Biomarkers, paleoclimate reconstruction 



Dr Adrian Bass

Research interests: Fluvial carbon cycling, pyrogenic carbon, laser stable isotope analysis 

Adrian Bass





Dr Thorsten Balke

fotoResearch interests: Experimental biogeomorphology, Salt marshes and mangroves, Ecosystem-basedcoastal defence, Restoration ecology and ecosystem services 



Dr Brian Barrett

Research interests: Radar & multispectral remote sensing, machine learning, land use dynamics, soil moisture, grassland & upland ecosystems 






Solar System Volatiles

Prof. Martin Lee

Martin Lee
Research interests: Geology of Mars, evolution of primitive asteroids, water-mineral interactions




Dr Jaime Toney

Research interests: Biomarkers, paleoclimate reconstructionJaime Toney




Dr Lydia Hallis

Lydia Hallis

Research interests: Volatile element isotopes





Dr Ben Cohenphoto

Research interests: Terrestrial volcanism, Martian volcanism, Ar/Ar chronology



Quantitative Geomorphology

Prof. Trevor Hoey

Trevor Hoey

Research interests: Sediment transport, sediment tracers, braided river dynamics





Dr Jim HansomJim Hansom

Research interests: Coastal processes, polar environmental change




Larissa Naylor

Dr Larissa Naylor

Research interests: Biogeomorphology, coastal defense




Rhian Thomas

Dr Rhian Thomas

Research interests: Ecohydraulics, river habitat utilisation, modelling braided rivers



Dr Thorsten Balke


Research interests: Experimental biogeomorphology, salt marshes & mangroves, restoration ecology and ecosystem services




Dr Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Research interests: Monitoring & modelling braided river morphodynamics, river restoration, numerical modelling of flood risk



Dr Cristina Persano

Research interests: I use isotopes to measure how the landscape responds to perturbations





Dr Elizabeth Petrie

Photo of Elizabeth Petrie

Research interests: Geomatics, non-gravitational force effects on GPS orbits, higher order ionospheric effects on GPS



Dr Martin Hurst

Martin D. Hurst headshot

Research interests: geomorphology, tectonically active landscapes, eroding coastlines




Dr Brian Barrett

Research interests: Radar & multispectral remote sensing, machine learning, land use dynamics, soil moisture, grassland & upland ecosystems


Human Geography Research Group

MRes in Human Geography Scholarships 2018-19

MRes in Human Geography Scholarships


Offered by the Human Geography Research Group (HGRG) of the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (GES), University of Glasgow (UoG)




We are pleased to announce that for the academic session 2018-2019, we will be able to offer 4 (four) fees-only Scholarships for students wishing to take the MRes in Human Geography. We are not able to cover the full fee, unfortunately, or to provide a stipend to cover living expenses. There are 2 options here:


(1) 1 x £5,000 Scholarships - where GES will pay £5,000 towards your fees (which this year are £7650 in total, and hence GES is agreeing to pay a substantial proportion of that amount);


(2) 3 x £5,000 Scholarships - on the same basis as (1) above - but with the added specification that these awards are for students who commit to focussing their MRes dissertation work on the theme of ‘Stressed Environments and Communities’ (SEC: taking seriously both natural landscapes and socio-cultural processes). This is a particular emerging research theme of the HGRG in GES, linking across to the Earth Systems Research Group (ESRG): see information about this theme here


The awarding of these Scholarships will be competitive, based in part upon student performance in undergraduate degree programmes, and hence we will not be able to make decisions until later in July when we gain full information about student degree performance.

If you wish to be considered for option (1), one of the basic £5,000 scholarships, then you simply make the normal application through the University of Glasgow Taught Postgraduate online application system, with no additional documentation specifying research interests.  Please ensure that your application arrives and is logged on the system, with all necessary additional material such as references and transcripts, by Friday 22nd June, 2018.

If you wish to be considered for option (2), one of the 3 x £5,000 scholarships tagged as SEC-facing, then in addition to the standard online application (which you may already have submitted) you also need to submit (electronically) a three page MRes dissertation proposal on a form designed for this purpose to Professor Chris Philo (at by Friday 22nd June, 2018. Please complete the MRes in Human Geography Scholarships 2018-19 form

You are welcome to discuss your ideas for an MRes SEC-facing dissertation proposal in advance with any member of the Human Geography Research Group here at the University of Glasgow (see our staff list and associated personal webpages accessible from the main School webpages). For these latter awards, while quality of degree performance will be paramount, we will nonetheless also factor in our evaluation of your proposal and its fit with our theme. It is possible that students applying under option (2) could still be given an award under option (1).

These scholarships are open to all applicants, Home/EU and ‘Overseas’, although we acknowledge that the £5,000 will go much further to cover the cost of a Home/EU fees than it will to cover the cost of an ‘Overseas’ fee.

More generally, if you wish to speak to the MRes Convener – Professor Chris Philo (at - about the MRes in Human Geography, then please do not hesitate to e-mail and we can either speak on the e-waves or meet up in person.


Timelines for Scholarships clarified

Friday 22nd June, 2018: all standard online applications (with supporting materials) must have been uploaded on to the University of Glasgow Taught Postgraduate online application system by this date. It will automatically be assumed that all such applications are eligible for award of our basic scholarship (option (1)).

Friday 22nd June, 2018: any students also wishing to make an application tagged to the SEC theme (option (2)) must have sent through a completed MRes dissertation proposal on the relevant form to by this date.

Between the above and below dates, we will be receiving updated information about degree results/performances of some students (you are advised to update Chris Philo directly with this information).

Wednesday 25th July, 2018: deadline for decisions to be made on the allocation of Scholarships, with the objective of informing all applicants (successful, unsuccessful and possibly ‘reserves’).


Eligibility for Scholarships clarified

Applicants must have completed – or will have completed by the end of June 2018 – an undergraduate degree in Geography or a related subject (eg. Environmental Studies/Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, History, Cultural Studies).  They must normally have secured – or will secure – a 1st-class degree classification.  There must be no legal reasons why they cannot be resident in the UK undertaking higher education. [ANY MORE DETAILED RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS NEEDING TO BE SPECIFIED]


Selection process clarified

For the basic scholarship (option (1)), the criteria for selecting the successful candidate will be evidence of the best academic record on paper.  We will consider not just degree classification, but evidence of level of award (eg. within the 1st-class degree range) and distribution/preponderance of credits/units graded at different levels within an overall degree.  The implication is that you need to provide us with as much detail as possible about the precise break-down of your degree.  This evidence should be apparent from degree award transcripts included with your on-line application, but you are welcome to contact the MRes Convener if you have additional documentation/information that you would wish to be considered.  We will not be at liberty to discuss with you the degree performances of other applicants.

For the SEC-facing scholarship (option (2)), this academic quality criteria will be balanced with a consideration of your MRes dissertation proposal form.  A decision will hence be made about the 4 candidates who best balance a record of high-quality academic performance with the most exciting, innovative and plausible dissertation proposals demonstrably fitting with the SEC theme.  It is possible here that some of the successful candidates will not have the very best academic records on paper, but will have produced the very best dissertation proposals.  We will be able to give feedback on your dissertation proposal, but will not be at liberty to discuss in any detail how your application compares with that of any other candidate.


The Selection Panel will comprise of the MRes Convener and 2 other senior academic human geographers in the HGRG/GES.

Summary of staff research areas in Human Geography

Deborah Dixon: Feminist Geopolitics; Monstrous Geographies; Art/Science Collaborations; Aesthetic Geographies. Deborah’s research work is primarily concerned with the interplay between poststructuralist and feminist materialist theories, as manifest in the biographies of various ‘monstrous’ forms, from Enlightenment beasts in the French countryside to the channelling forms of spiritual mediums, as well as the fleshy medium of Bioart, and the labouring bodies of migrant workers.

Dave Featherstone: Geographies of solidarity; Political Cultures of Internationalism; Historical Geographies of Labour and Resistance; Translocal social and political movements; Political Song (in association with the Janey Buchan Political Song Archive at Glasgow University); Climate Justice; Political Articulations of the Crisis. Dave's research is based at the intersections of political and historical geography. He has core research interests on the relations between space, politics and resistance/ subaltern contestation. He is keen to work with students who are developing a direct political engagement through their research in various ways.

Hayden Lorimer: historical-cultural geographies of landscape; animal geographies and more-than-human geographies; environmental change and writing cultures; histories of geographical knowledge; experimental methodologies and geographies; geographies of the senses / sensuous geographies; regional writing and topographic cultures; questions of Scottish 'cultural heritage.'

Cheryl Mcgeaghan: Cheryl's ongoing research interests concern historical and cultural geographies of mental ill-health and asylum spaces, history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, histories of science, life-writing and biography, and psychotherapeutic practices such as art therapy. Methodologically, I am interested in critically investigating the practices of the ‘archive’ and using visual methods to capture situated memories.

Simon Naylor: Historical geographies of science, technology and exploration; Historical and cultural geographies of weather and climate. Simon's research investigates the historical geographies of the natural sciences, including botany, zoology, geology, antiquarianism, geography, meteorology, geophysics, and terrestrial magnetism, as well as economic and social survey. He is interested in the significance of specific places and settings for the development of scientific ideas, practices or techniques and in the relevance of particular spatial units - landscape, region, or nation for instance - for the conduct of science.

Hester Parr: Emotional and embodied geographies; Mental health and illness; Arts and Health; Experimental methodololgies; Ethnographies of everyday life; Creative writing. Hester is interested in geographies of emotions, embodiment and creativity with respect to health and well-being. Her research expertise includes 20 years of work on social and cultural geographies of mental health and illness. Hester has interests and experience in working via overt and covert ethnographies, collaborative film-making, focus groups, interviews-on-the-move, internet surveys and email-based research relationships, telephone interviewing and co-writing, participatory research relationships.

Chris Philo: Historical geography of mental health subjects (asylums, doctors, patients, 'illnesses'); Contemporary health geographies of different kinds of chronic conditions; Geographies of children and childhoods, with particular reference to the neglected fields of very young children; Episodes and people in the history of geographical inquiry; Philosophical and social-theoretical engagements with matters of geography, space and location.

Jo Sharp: Subaltern Geopolitics; Feminist Geopolitics; Social Ecologies of Zoonoses. Jo's research seeks to reconstruct an alternative vision of the current “war on terror” from the point of view of a continent which is usually rendered silent in various geopolitical visions, or little more than a “site of violence and disorder” and thus always offering the possibility of threat to security. She is also working on zoonotic transmission patterns among animal hosts, which are responsible for transmission to humans, and the key socio-economic and behavioural determinants of human disease risk in different agro-ecological settings.

Ian Shaw: Political geography; Political philosophy; More-than-human geographies. Ian is interested in the geopolitical transformations associated with the rise of drones in U.S. national security strategy and beyond. In particular, his approach emphasises why the drone is a political actor - a technology that is slowly but definitively changing social, territorial, and sovereign relations. The point of such work is to fully understand the objects and materials that are responsible for producing inequality, difference, and change in the world.

Lazaros Karaliotas: Urban geography; Political philosophy; Urban uprisings and movements; Urban commons; Geographies of populism; Urban governance and politics, with particular reference to urban infrastructures; Geographies of neoliberalization and austerity; Geographies of post-democratization; Urban political ecology, with particular reference to the politics of urban sustainability, climate change, and the Anthropocene. Lazaros’ research explores the intersections between the urban and the political. He is interested in the role of cities in process of de-politicization and re-politicization and in the relations between cities, nature and politics.

Emma Laurie: Politics of Health; Emotional Geographies; Feminist Geopolitics; Postcolonialism and Development; Geographies of Violence and Peace; Health Systems Strengthening; Human Rights. Emma's research is concerned with the politics of health, especially in low-income settings, framed by a human rights perspective, driving forward more capacious understandings of violence. Emma is involved in interdisciplinary projects on zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial resistance in Tanzania, and is keen to develop interdisciplinary PhD projects in these areas.