Tutors and Colleges

The Department of Earth Sciences has undergraduate tutors in seven Colleges. Many of these Colleges have additional non-tutorial fellows who teach on the undergraduate course as well as pursuing their own research interest.


Dr Karin Sigloch is Exeter College’s Tutorial Fellow in Earth Sciences. Karin teaches Geophysical Methods and Seismology in the undergraduate programme, as well as contributing a module in the NERC Doctoral Training Programme , entitled “Solid Earth — Linking the brittle shell to the viscous mantle”.

Professor Conall Mac Niocaill provides first years with an introduction to the Fundamentals of Geology and Planet Earth, as well as leading their first field trip to Pembroke. He also teaches Geophysics, Geochronology and Palaeomagnetism, and leads field courses to Arran, Scotland.

St Anne’s

Dr Don Porcelli, Associate Professor of Geochemistry and Ferreras Willetts Fellow in Earth Sciences uses trace element distributions and isotope ratios to provide a better understanding of planetary composition and formation, weathering, ocean geochemistry and reconstruction of palaeoenvironments. Don teaches early history of the Solar System, basic aqueous chemistry, radiogenic isotope geochemistry, and mathematical methods in Earth Sciences.

Dr Stuart Robinson, Associate Professor of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, uses field and lab observations to understand past environments, past climates and the impacts of major environmental change, in order to test predictive models of future climate scenarios and inform the debate about the likely consequences of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Professor David Pyle is a volcanologist who teaches courses in igneous petrology, volcanology and igneous petrogenesis in all four years of the undergraduate course. He is involved in course design and delivery for Oxford’s NERC-funded graduate programme, the Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research, and contributes to the outreach programme of Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA) and Oxford Sparks.

Professor Richard Katz specialises in the fluid dynamics of geophysical processes. He brings his research into the undergraduate course in the form of geodynamics, physical thermodynamics and mathematical problem-solving.

St Edmund Hall

Professor Richard Walker is an Earth Scientist interested in the study of earthquakes and the building of mountains within the continents. His work focuses on the interior of Asia, where there are long records of large and sometimes extremely destructive earthquakes. His research combines the analysis of satellite imagery of the Earth with intensive field investigation. He lectures on methods in structural geology and geological remote sensing, and teaches on undergraduate field classes in the UK and in Greece.

Dr Roger Benson is a palaeobiologist. His research focuses on understanding the origins of biodiversity by quantifying evolutionary processes on long timescales, especially in groups such as dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, and the early ancestors of mammals. He teaches palaeobiology and evolution papers and basic geology.

St Hugh’s

Dr Erin Saupe, Associate Professor of Palaeobiology and tutorial fellow, is a palaeobiologist working to investigate interactions between life and environments over geological time scales: exploring the origin, maintenance, and conservation of biodiversity, understanding controls on community and species’ responses to environmental change & assessing how climate change might impact the Earth’s biodiversity.

Professor Chris Ballentine, Professorial Fellow and Chair of Geochemistry, uses his research on the properties of noble gases to understand the origin and formation of our solar system, life and the planet we live on. He applies this research to address some of society’s most pressing issues such as resource discovery, safe waste disposal, and understanding environmental change.

St Peter’s

Dr Nick Tosca, Fellow and Tutor in Earth Sciences at St Peter’s and an Associate Professor in Sedimentary Geology, teaches sedimentology and diagenesis, and leads the second-year field trip to Dorset. Nick’s research into the early evolution of the martian surface, and the ways that climate change is written in Earth’s sedimentary record are brought into his teaching at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels, providing diverse sources of inspiration to re-invigorate the cornerstone subjects that underpin modern Earth Sciences.

Professor Joe Cartwright, Shell Professor of Earth Sciences, provides insight into Earth Resources as part of the third year undergraduate course. He helps lead fieldwork in Pembrokeshire, Dorset and Spain, and provides research projects for fourth years wishing to pursue 3D seismic basin modelling in the Shell Laboratory.

University College

Dr Lars Hansen, Sollas Tutorial Fellow in Geology and Associate Professor of Mineralogy and Petrology teaches throughout the course, from first to third year, introducing Mathematics for Earth Sciences, Igneous Petrology, Rock deformation and Geodynamics. His research focuses on the viscous flow of rocks, with special emphasis on the manner in which atomic-scale phenomena control large-scale processes such as mantle convection, the formation of tectonic plate boundaries, the seismic cycle, and flexure of the lithosphere.

Professor Philip England, Professorial Fellow and Chair of Geology, is a geophysicist who carries out research in tectonics. He teaches Mechanics and Fluids as well as Plate Tectonics, Heat Flow, and Convection in the first year. In the third year, Philip teaches Continental Tectonics, which leads into the fourth year field trip to Santorini and Mainland Greece, focussing further on Volcanology and Active Tectonics.

Professor Tamsin Mather is a volcanologist who teaches on the first year Physics, Chemistry and Biology course as well as Volcanology, Igneous Processes and Petrogenesis in the third year. In fourth year, Tamsin brings to life her research specialisms with an option of Topics in Volcanology.

Professor Gideon Henderson, Head of Department, is a geochemist researching climate change and the carbon cycle. Gideon teaches courses on the Carbon Cycle in second year, Atmosphere and Hydrosphere in third year, and Pattern and Process in Pleistocene Climate in the fourth year.


Professor Don Fraser, Professor of Earth Sciences, Anglo-American Fellow and Tutor in Geology, applies thermodynamics to geological problems and works on the behaviour of small organic molecules in meteorites and mineral surfaces and how these provide clues to the origins of life. This work involves synchrotron X-ray techniques, neutron scattering and computer simulation of mineral systems. He has also worked on silicate melts and volcanic rocks from the Mariana Islands. Don gives courses on the origin of the elements, thermodynamics and planetary chemistry.

Professor Mike Searle is an expert on the tectonic evolution of mountain belts, in particular processes associated with subduction, ophiolite formation and obduction, folding and thrusting, regional metamorphism and crustal melting. Mike brings his expertise from mapping the Alpine-Himalayan belt, the Karakoram ranges and Tibetan Plateau region and Southeast Asia into the undergraduate course Anatomy of a Mountain Belt, taught in the fourth year. He also leads the undergraduate Field Trip to North West Scotland.

Teaching, Tutorials and Demonstrators

Please note, the list of Tutorial Fellows is not an exhaustive list of the people who offer lectures and tutorials. Undergraduate teaching is provided by a combination of suitable specialists from the list of Faculty, Postdocs and sometimes Postgrads. Postgrads also provide back-up support to the lecturers, working as demonstrators in practical workshops and on field trips.