4th Year


This course focuses on oceanography (physical, chemical, and biological); and on carbonate environments (marine, terrestrial, and karstic).
The trip is hosted at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences and runs for eight days including travel. Activities include:

  1. An overnight trip on an ocean going research vessel to experience field-based oceanography in the open Atlantic.  This introduces use of CTD and sampling equipment to assess subsurface conditions and investigates the circulation and chemistry of surface and deep-water masses including NADW.  The ecosystem of the North Atlantic Gyre is also investigated and samples returned to the labs in BIOS to study species and function.
  2. Trips on a smaller vessel to areas of the Bermuda coast where the reef environment can be observed from the boat and whilst in the water.  These trips assess both the biological ecosystem, and the production of sediment in a carbonate platform environment.  Another trip assesses the lower oxygen environments of a lagoonal setting.  Evening exercises involved training in the use of the very widely used Ocean Data View software, and investigation of the impressive time series of ocean data from offshore Bermuda to provide context to the observations made in the field.
  3. The carbonate sedimentology of the island is studied during a day trip around the island, investigating the sequence of dunes and soils that accumulate in response to climate and sea-level change during the Pleistocene.
  4. Observations in one of the many caves on Bermuda consider the formation of such karstic features, the development of speleothems, and their use as sealevel and paleoclimate archives.

This course will use and build upon material in the climate, oceanography, sedimentology, and palaeobiology aspects.


What students say about this field course:

‘This field trip was not only the best field trip I’ve been on, but also one of the best weeks of my life. I had an amazing time and would like to thank everyone who was a part of putting the trip together.’ (2018)

‘Fantastic field course – probably the best week of my life and I’m seriously thinking of changing my research focus as a result of this trip. Please keep the trip going!'(2018)

‘The field course to Bermuda was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and essential for anybody considering future ocean-going research as a profession.’ (2016)

‘This field course has made my time at Oxford.’ (2016)

‘The experience of doing oceanography field work has made me consider staying in academia / science after this year (not something I ever would have said before this trip) , and I am currently looking at oceanography internships. Thank you!!!’ (2016)


This field work is a pre-sessional and optional course for a limited number of students.

The Greek field course is mainly concerned with active geological processes, providing several aspects of training not otherwise available in the field programme. One aim is to demonstrate the importance of an integrated geological study that makes use of geophysical and geochemical data, and evidence from sediments and fossils, to build up a picture of active deformation of the continental crust. The course focuses on two related investigations:

  1. An active volcano, Santorini, in the Aegean Sea.
  2. Active faulting and its effect on sedimentation in the Gulf of Evvia and Gulf of Corinth regions.

Days 1 to 3 are spent on Santorini, examining the great variety of eruptive rock types and the details of the volcanic sequences related to major eruptions. Evening exercises include using field data to calculate the duration and volume flux of the Minoan eruption. We also see the destructive power of the eruption at the Minoan excavations in Akrotiri.

Days 4 to 10 are spent on the mainland of Central Greece. We begin in the Locris area, at the north end of the Gulf of Evvia. We learn about the pattern of faulting related to extension of the crust, its control on sedimentation, and the sequence of faulting through time, by observing features of the landscape around Kamena Vourla, Kallidromon, and Parnassos. We then move South to the Gulf of Corinth, stopping on the way to visit the active faulting near Thebes, including the 1981 Plataea-Kaparelli fault scarps. The Gulf of Corinth preserves a variety of sediments deposited during its evolution, and in particular reveals the interplay between movements of the crust and sea-level change.


What students say about this field course:

In 2018 Medicane Zorbas forced us to cancel the Santorini part of the field course and the students were stuck in Athens with bad weather conditions.

‘The demonstrators and field trip leaders did a great job in what was a less-than-ideal situation. They always put our safety first and did their best to fill in our knowledge, despite the weather problems!’
‘The cancellation of the Santorini part of the trip – handled very well by everyone involved.'(2018)

‘Really fantastic time, thank you to everyone. (…). Geology was excellent, scenery was beautiful, food was amazing and company even better.’ (2016)
‘Definitely the best field work of the course. Really good demonstrators.’ (2016)