Geographical Sciences (Physical)

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:36 months
StudyQA ranking:1749

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The School of Geographical Sciences is one of the world's leading international centres for research and educational scholarship. The Graduate School is integral to this success. We have a large and vibrant graduate community, focusing both on PhDs by research and on taught programmes. The graduate community has a strong international and interdisciplinary flavour, and offers an exceptional academic environment for postgraduate research.

The research opportunities span a variety of subjects at the leading edge of geographical research. There is also a range of exciting possibilities for interdisciplinary research that cross and connect research groups as well as departments.

We urge you to consult the websites of individual members of staff as well as websites that detail collective research interests.

For Human Geography Postgraduate Research Progammes, please see the Research groups: The School's Physical Geography research is focused on a number of themes which take due cognisance of UK Research Council priority areas, industrial and other stakeholder interests. These themes are reflected in our three research groups:

Global Environmental Change

The Bristol Research Initiative for the Dynamic Global Environment (BRIDGE) group aims to improve the understanding of natural climate and environmental variability and the relationship between global carbon cycling and climate, and to use this knowledge to improve our predictions of future change and its impacts on all aspects of ecosystems and human society.


The Bristol Glaciology Centre leads world-class research into ice sheet processes and subglacial environments. Their aim is to increase our understanding of the present, past and future behaviour of ice sheets and glaciers, and the links between the cryosphere, oceans and atmosphere under changing climatic conditions.


The research interests of the Hydrology Research Group focus on the modelling of hydrologic and hydraulic problems using advanced numerical methods. They particularly specialise in modelling river flooding, water quality monitoring, uncertainty analysis techniques, catchment and hillslope transport processes combined with field monitoring and large-scale experimental work.


Key research interests: Global Environmental Change
Dr Rachel Flecker, Ancient climates, isotope geochemistry, sedimentology, marginal marine systems; environmental technology.

Dr Dan Lunt, The Earth System from the Pliocene to the Eocene, with a focus on Antarctica.

Dr David Richards, Geochronology, isotope geochemistry, Quaternary sea-level and climate change; landscape evolution.

Professor Andy Ridgewell, Causes and consequences of past and future environmental change, relationship between global biogeochemical cycles and evolutionary innovation and extinction; Earth system model development.

Professor Paul Valdes, Climate and environmental change, with a particular emphasis on understanding past changes in the Earth System and how this relates to future environmental changes and their impacts.

Dr Alexandre Anesio, Polar microbiology; low temperature biogeochemistry; photochemisty; transformations of dissolved organic matter.

Professor Jonathan Bamber, Applications of remote sensing data to problems in climatology, in particular, related to the polar regions.

Professor Antony Payne, Numerical modelling of environmental systems and glaciology.

Professor Martin Siegert, Glaciology and Quaternary science; the study and exploration of Antarctic subglacial lakes; Antarctic climate evolution, and in particular using geophysical data and modelling to understand past changes to the ice sheet.

Professor Martyn Tranter, Biogeochemical processes in the cryosphere, including those on the surface and beneath glaciers and ice sheets; impacts of glaciers and ice sheets on local, regional and global geochemical cycles.

Dr Jemma Wadham, Geochemistry and hydrology of Arctic and Alpine regions; hydrochemistry of polythermal glaciers and chemical weathering mechanisms in subglacial runoff.

Professor Paul Bates, Hydraulic and hydrologic modelling, uncertainty analysis and fluvial geomorphology.

Professor Jim Freer, Uncertainty analysis in environmental modelling; field experiments and computer simulations for hydrology and water quality; phosphorous and soil erosion modelling in agricultural systems; flood forecasting and flood inundation under climate change; hillslope processes; catchment hydrology.

Dr Sara Liguori, Catchment hydrology; precipitation meteorology; weather radar; probabilistic forecasting.

Dr Katerina Michaelides, Hillslope hydrology and geomorphology; dryland processes; sediment transport; modelling; laboratory experimentation; nutrient and contaminant transport.

Dr Diego Miralles, Soil-vegetation-atmosphere interactions; remote sensing application to evaporation; role of hydrology in our changing climate.


An upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject or an equivalent qualification.

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 7

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.


Each year the School is awarded 2 - 6 NERC studentships (including CASE awards), 2 CPOM NERC studentships, 1 - 2 EPSRC studentships, as well as EU-funded studentships. Applicants should also check the School website. Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students is available from the Student Funding Office website.

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