skip to content

Department of Earth Sciences



The PhD degree is the Department of Earth Sciences' principal research degree for postgraduate students. As a large and integrated department, the expertise and current research of our staff spans the breadth of Earth Sciences. We have 37 academic staff who are available to supervise PhD students. 

We welcome research enquiries from students who are currently working toward, or have acquired, first degrees in: Earth Science subjects, physics, chemistry, mathematics, material science, biology, or other related subjects.

The Department of Earth Sciences is a partner in two Doctoral Training Programmes (outlined below), who award research-council-funded studentships. Other studentships are available through different funding sources. 

If you wish to find out more about a project or the Department, or want to discuss devising your own project with us, then please contact a relevant member of academic staff—you can discover their interests on our Research pages.



Cambridge C-CLEAR DTP

The Cambridge Climate Life and Earth Doctoral Training Partnership (C-CLEAR DTP) awards around 12 3.5-year NERC-funded PhD studentships each year to start in October.

A wide range of projects are available, within seven world-class departments and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), under the broad themes of:

  • Solid Earth and geological hazards
    Mineral physics, sedimentary and earth surface processes, geophysics, tectonics including earthquake hazards, mantle and core processes, volcanism and volcanic hazards.
  • Climate change and environmental processes
    Atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, climate processes, sea-level rise impacts, coastal flood and erosion hazards, palaeoclimate, solar-terrestrial processes, glaciology (land ice and sea ice), physical oceanography, carbon cycle and biogeochemistry.
  • Biology and conservation
    Ecology, land use, population genetics, microbiology, physiology and adaptation, palaeobiology and conservation.

You can also search the complete list of PhD projects (for October 2022) or view PhD projects within the Department of Earth Sciences.

For more information on this Doctoral Training Programme, including how to apply, please visit the C-CLEAR DTP pages.

Cambridge AI4ER CDT

The Cambridge UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in the Application of Artificial Intelligence to the study of Environmental Risks (AI4ER)  offers around ten 4-year UKRI-funded PhD studentships each year to start in October. The programme comprises a one-year MRes (two terms taught, one term research), and a three-year PhD to apply AI methodologies.

A wide range of projects will be available under the broad themes of:

  • Weather, climate, and air quality
  • Natural hazards
  • Natural resources (food, water and resource security, and biodiversity)

For more information on this Centre for Doctoral Training, including training structure and applying to the course, please visit the AI4ER CDT pages.


Fully-funded studentships are also available at the BPI Institute, and through the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures.

We are also happy to devise projects with you, particularly if the projects outlined above are not of interest and you have interests that we share. Explore our Research pages to see which members of academic staff you would like to work with, and then contact them directly.


DTP studentships will be funded by UK research councils. Other studentships available in department will be funded by industry and several Cambridge Colleges. 

We also have a number of CASE awards, which involve direct links with industry partners.


Before applying, applicants are advised to contact the relevant member of academic staff for their chosen project to discuss your research interests.

To make a formal application for a PhD studentship, please go to the University's Applicant Portal. When you complete the on-line application, you will have to indicate a college choice—it may help to discuss this choice with your prospective supervisor before submitting your application.

If you are applying from outside the UK, then please read our PhD (Overseas Students) page.

For questions related specifically to a project, please contact the relevant supervisor directly.

For more general information, please contact our .