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3 dimensional simulation of a mid-ocean ridge



Studentships for October 2014 entry.

Doctoral Training Programme

The final applications deadline for the Dynamic Earth Stream and the Physical Climate Stream is Friday 14th February 2014

Applications for the Biodiversity Stream are now closed

The University of Oxford has been awarded 24 full NERC studentships per year for the next 5 years as a part of the move to Doctoral Training Partnerships.

In Oxford, these studentships will be available to support research students across the full remit of NERC's research portfolio, which includes the full breadth of research activities in Earth Sciences.  

We expect to recruit students across all areas ranging from paleobiology to volcanology; from deep Earth seismology to physical oceanography; and from sedimentary basins and mountain-building to biogeochemistry and climate change. 

To apply to start a postgraduate research degree in Earth Sciences, you will need to apply for the 'Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research' - the full details of which are available on the web at At this stage, we are not limiting the competition to specified research projects, and we welcome applications and expressions of interest from any well qualified students with an ambition to work in a world-class research environment in the Geosciences. 

Externally funded projects

Deadline Friday 14th February 2014

We currently have two projects on offer that are fully funded by Abu Dhabi Petroleum, and supervised by Tony Watts, Mike Searle and Dave Waters.

Project EARTH-14-ABW1: A geophysical study of the Northern United Arab Emirates: Implications for continental collision and ophiolite emplacement (Funded by Abu Dhabi Petroleum)

Project EARTH-14-MPS1: Structure, metamorphism of the North Oman thrust sheets, from Semail ophiolite to foreland fold-thrust belt (Funded by Abu Dhabi Petroleum)

Oil and Gas (NERC Centre for Doctoral Training)

Deadline extended to Wednesday 5 March 2014

The University is a core partner in a recently successful bid to host the UK's first Doctoral Training Centre in Oil and Gas (see Studentships will be available annually for the next three years, starting with admission in 2014.

Full details can be found here.

For these studentships, we can consider Home and EU applicants.  International applicants can only be considered if they are able to cover the fee differential.

Projects available at the University of Oxford are:

Project EARTH-14-CB1: Quantifying the role of groundwater in hydrocarbon systems using noble gas isotopes
Supervisors: Chris Ballentine, Gideon Henderson, Barbara Sherwood Lollar (University of Toronto)

Project EARTH-14-CB2: Using noble gas isotopes to develop a mechanistic understanding of shale gas processes
Supervisor: Chris Ballentine, Gideon Henderson

Project EARTH-14-JC2: Anomalous compaction and lithification during early burial in sedimentary basins
Supervisors: Joe Cartwright, Bruce Levell, Claudia Bertoni

Project EARTH-14-JC3:Structural and depositional controls on shale gas resources in the UK
Supervisors: Joe Cartwright, Ed Hough (BGS), Laura Benfield (BP)

Project EARTH-14-CM1: Coupled flow of water and gas during hydraulic fracture in shale
 Supervisors: Christopher W. MacMinn, Joe Cartwright

Project EARTH-14-TNM4: Efficient local-scale modelling of wave propagation in complex axisymmetric media
Supervisors: Dr. Tarje Nissen-Meyer, Karin Sigloch, Prof. Johan Robertsson, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Project EARTH-14-RR3: Calcite-Aragonite Seas and porosity prediction: A New Approach
Supervisors: Rosalind Rickaby, Hugh Jenkyns (Oxford) and Andy Gale (University of Portsmouth)

Project EARTH-14-SR4: Are non-marine organic-rich shales suitable exploration targets?
Supervisors: Stuart Robinson, Hugh Jenkyns, Steve Hesselbo (University of Exeter)

STFC Studentships

Closing Date 10 February 2014

The Department has two STFC-funded studentships. These are open to home applicants, or EU applicants who have lived in the UK for three years or longer.

The following projects are available:

Project EARTH-13-AH2: Planetary core formation – new isotopic constraints

Project EARTH-13-AH4: The Origin of the Moon: a stable vanadium isotope perspective

Project EARTH-13-BW1: Volatile loss from planets and asteroids

Project EARTH-13-BW2: An experimental study of the chemistry of planetary core formation

EPSRC Studentship

Closing Date 10 February 2014

The Department has one EPSRC-funded studentship. This is open to home applicants, or EU applicants who have lived in the UK for three years or longer.

The following project is available:

Project EARTH-13-BW3: Provenance of non-metallic inclusions in steel using trace elements



To keep up with news and updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OxUniEarthSci and @OxfordEnvRes), or look on the DTP website  


Doctoral Training Programme Topic Areas

Earth Sciences – this list is an indication of areas where we expect to be able to supervise research projects for 2014, in the general area of Earth Sciences. Please contact potential supervisors if you'd like further information. This list may be extended.

Full details on currently available projects in this Department can be found here.

Earth’s climate system (Ros Rickaby, Stuart Robinson, Gideon Henderson, Will Homoky, Richard Katz, Ian Hewitt)

Reconstructing Mesozoic and Cenozoic 'greenhouse' climates and environments.

Reconstructing past climates using new old molecules.

Phytoplankton optimisation to evolving carbon: Implications for the past and future.

Chemical variability of the ocean's bottom boundary layer.

Dust fluxes to the surface ocean.

Tracing ocean circulation with chemical tracers.

Melting and water drainage from ice-stream margins: theory and computation.

Plate tectonics, mountain building and natural resources (Chris Ballentine, Joe Cartwright, Tony Watts, Mike Searle, Dave Waters)

Earthquakes, Active Tectonics, and Mountain-Building in Central Asia

Modelling fracture and cementation in sedimentary rocks

Using noble gases to probe the origins of crustal fluids: oil, water and gas. 

Seismology, volcanism, magmatism and the deep Earth (Tarje Nissen-Meyer, Karen Sigloch, Tamsin Mather, Richard Katz, David Pyle, Chris Ballentine)

Deep carbon in deep time 

Seismological imaging of mantle structure beneath a hotspot volcano.

Volcanic CO2 emissions in the Main Ethiopian Rift.

Magma/mantle dynamics: production and extraction of melt from the convecting mantle

The fluid dynamics of magmatism at subduction zones.

Modelling of 3D melt extraction and geochemical transport near mid-ocean ridge transform faults.

Statistical analysis of volcanic behaviour.

Using Earth Observation techniques to understand volcanic processes.

Mantle volatile reservoirs.

Volcanic continental margins and continental break-up.

Understanding the volcanism of the Tasmantid seamount chain

Probing the relationship between slab-surface processes and arc-magma chemistry

Global seismic waveform tomography with massive data volumes 

Seismological investigations of the Earth's core-mantle boundary region 

Small-scale scattering and attenuation in the Earth's mantle 

Seismological studies on the Earth and Sun (Tarje Nissen-Meyer, Karen Sigloch)

Uncertainty estimation in seismic tomography 

Iterative optimisation for combined boundary and volumetric structures 

Lattice-Boltzmann method for wave propagation 

Imaging the Sun's interior with acoustic waveforms 

Shallow structures, hazard and seismic sources: 

Assessing seismic source properties by waveform modelling

Palaeobiology and Evolution (Roger Benson and Matt Friedman) 

Origins and evolution of sea turtles using x-ray imaging of exceptional fossils.

Large scale patterns of vertebrate evolution using advanced statistics and the fossil record.

Using phylogenomics and fossils to dissect adaptive radiation in the pelagic realm'

Further Details 

We will welcome applications from those with, or working for first degrees,or Masters-level degrees, in

  • Earth Sciences
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Engineering
  • other related subjects.

UK students are eligible for full support, and a range of support will be available for EU and international students.

Please follow the appropriate link below for further details on how to apply:

Please contact Emma Brown with any queries. 

Why not have a look at the virtual tour of our department?

General information on graduate admissions for the University of Oxford can be found on the main university website.

Multiple Applications 

You may submit multiple online applications to different programmes in a single admissions cycle, although you may only apply to any individual programme once per cycle. Details of how to submit multiple applications are available in the 'Instructions' section of the Embark online application form.

If you want to apply for more than one programme, you will need to submit a separate application for each, along with full supporting materials and the application fee.

However, where Centre for Doctoral Training (CDTs) or Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) have associated non-CDT DPhil programmes, it is possible to submit up to two additional applications for related courses from a set of permitted options without paying additional fees.

Please note that you cannot apply to more than one non-CDT DPhil without paying further application fees.

The permitted options will depend on the course you select in your initial application and are listed on the individual entries in the Course Guide. Once you have submitted an application to your first programme, please request a fee waiver from Graduate Admissions and Funding using the online query form, stating which further programmes you intend to apply to. Applicants wishing to make multiple applications for non-CDT DPhil programmes or any programmes which are not included in the permitted options will need to pay a separate fee for each application.