Atmospheric Oceanic and Planetary Physics

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:3 years
Local:$ 9.95k / Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 30.8k / Academic year(s) Deadline: Jan 20, 2022
StudyQA ranking:257

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The sub-department’s research focuses on the study of physical processes in the atmospheres, surfaces and oceans of the Earth and other planets, using experimental and theoretical techniques. Admission is highly competitive and is either directly to AOPP or via the physical climate science stream of Oxford's Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research.

Graduates from the programme have gone on to positions within academia, industry and government. Examples of organisations recent graduates have found employment have included NASA, the European Space Agency, Airbus Space and Defence and university departments across the world.

You are allocated at least one supervisor who should be your primary contact for guidance throughout your research degree. Research students join an existing research group that typically comprises at least one lead academic plus postdoctoral research assistants or fellows and other research students. Research projects in AOPP can be highly interdisciplinary and students often have additional co-supervisors either within AOPP or another University department.

The structure of the taught course components and initial (first year) assessment for a DPhil in AOPP is determined by the method of entry onto the course:

  • if you wish to enter via the Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research, your initial training will be within the DTP, before transferring to AOPP usually at the beginning of the second term of your first year; or
  • if you applying directly to AOPP, typically for projects in the area of planetary physics or a specifically-funded research project, courses will be provided either in collaboration with the DTP in Environmental Research or via lectures given as part of fourth year major option in the University's undergraduate degree in physics, Physics of atmospheres and oceans.

If admitted directly to AOPP, you will be assessed via the successful completion of classes and a first year transfer report of around 10,000 words, submitted during the summer of your first year. For the DTP, please see Environmental Research (NERC Doctoral Training Partnership).

You are admitted as a probationary DPhil student, and transfer from a probationary status is dependent on successful completion of the taught component of the course and assessment of your first year report by at least two academics that are not directly connected to your project. A further second year report, also assessed, is required before status as a DPhil candidate is confirmed and your thesis can be submitted.

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in physics, mathematics or related subjects. UK-based students should normally have taken/be taking the MPhys, MChem, MMath or an equivalent course, rather than the BSc or equivalent. Where appropriate, further details on the preferred academic background for individual research projects will be available via the AOPP website.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the typical minimum GPA sought is 3.3 out of 4.0. However, selection of candidates also depends on other factors in your application. Entry is competitive and most successful applicants have achieved higher GPA scores.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

A graduate-level master's degree is not required. The requirement for a first-class or strong upper-second class degree with honours can be alternatively demonstrated by a graduate master’s degree or substantial relevant professional experience.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

  • Official transcript(s)
  • CV/résumé
  • Research proposal: 500 words and a list of up to four potential supervisors
  • Written work: Two essays of 2,000 words each
  • References/letters of recommendation: Three overall, all of which must be academic


Standard level


Standard level scores

Higher level scores

IELTS Academic 
Institution code: 0713

7.0 Minimum 6.5 per component  7.5  Minimum 7.0 per component 

Institution code: 0490


Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) 185

Minimum 176 per component


Minimum 185 per component

Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) 185

Minimum 176 per component


Minimum 185 per component

  • Global Education
  • Hill Foundation Scholarships
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