MPhil and PhD Opportunities
Postgraduate Research in Geography
The Department of Geography supports postgraduate research across the diversity of research interests. Recent examples of PhD research topics include: climate change in mountain environments; geographies of youth smoking; innovations in river restoration; management of community water resources in rural Uganda; the use of social media in health campaigns; and reconstructing glacial environments. This diversity is also reflected in the list of topics linked to our bursary competition and the topics where applications can be made all year round (see below).
Research Centres and Groups
Environmental Processes and Change
Our researchers are able to undertake projects and supervise students across a number of physical geography themes including coastal and marine processes; glaciology and glacial geomorphology; climate change (particularly in mountain and arctic, and urban/heritage environments). Staff also specialise in river restoration and management projects. Our research is both laboratory and field based across a number of sites.
Geographies of Health, Wellbeing and Lifecourse
Researchers in this group are able to supervise projects that cut across a number of themes. These include ludic (or playful) geographies; geographies of health and health behaviours; ‘mumpreneurship’ and gendered identity, families and community; sustainable urban living and sustainable water management in developing countries.
Historical Geography and Spatial Analysis
Individuals in this group focus on the compilation, analysis, storage and visualisation of large, complex historical datasets. Geo-semantic approaches are used for information management and resource discovery; railroads and regional industrial development in the 19th century USA; history of cartographic representations; military geography and quantitative ‘public historical geography’
How to apply
To apply for a postgraduate research degree with us, you'll need a good first degree from an internationally-recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. We'll also consider outstanding applicants with exceptional equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.
We're currently rebuilding our website, so to explore the 3 different routes you can take into a postgrad research degree at Portsmouth, visit our new 'How to Apply' pages.
Self-funded PhD opportunities
- Bioprotection or biodeteroriation? The contradictory role of microbiological activity in heritage stone decay under changing climates (Applications accepted all year round)
- Capturing sugar-promoting environments and understanding the link with oral health outcomes (Applications accepted all year round)
- Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Applications accepted all year round)
- Gamification of society (Applications accepted all year round)
- Geoconservation of Rocky Coasts (Applications accepted all year round)
- Global and regional temperature change in mountainous regions (Applications accepted all year round)
- Graduate self-employment and entrepreneurship in the creative economy (Applications accepted all year round)
- Historical perspectives of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems (Applications accepted all year round)
- How can economic growth become more inclusive? (Applications accepted all year round)
- Human impacts on benthic diatom communities in coastal waters of Southern England (Applications accepted all year round)
- Improving Green Roof Sustainability with Soil Ecology (Applications accepted all year round)
- Measuring and modelling surface temperatures in areas of complex relief (Applications accepted all year round)
- Paleoclimate reconstructions during the last two millennia (Applications accepted all year round)
- Past Wildfire Histories (Applications accepted all year round)
- Responding to and managing refugees’ flows: Between carceral and informal geographies (Applications accepted all year round)
- The geographies of labour and working lives (Applications accepted all year round)
- The methodology of paleo-environmental reconstruction (Applications accepted all year round)
- Understanding/shaping space and society through playful activities (Applications accepted all year round)
- Urban Ecological Networks (Applications accepted all year round)
MPhil: 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
By Publication: 1 year part-time
Start date: October/February
A good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. All applicants are subject to interview.
English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
- MPhil/PhD Fees*
MPhil full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Postgraduate Loan
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Doctoral Loan
Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,260 p/a*
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,130 p/a*
International full-time students: £13,200 p/a*
International part-time students: £6,600 p/a*
*All fees are subject to annual increase
- By Publication Fees*
Members of staff: £1,550 p/a*
External candidates: £4,260 p/a*
*All fees are subject to annual increase.
Environmental Processes and change
- Environmental and climate change in arctic and alpine/mountain environments
- Climate science
- Glaciology and glacial geomorphology
- Coastal and marine processes and change
- River management and restoration
- Sedimentary archives of climate and environmental change
- Weathering science
Geographies of Health, Well-Being and Lifecourse
- Individual health and well-being - how place and space shape health outcomes and behaviours
- The business practice of mothers and how these link to gendered identity, families and community
- How play is fundamental to human experience
- Water resource management in South Africa
Historical Geography and Spatial Analysis
- Data warehousing, big data and spatial analytics
- History of cartography
- Historical census analysis
- Historical geography of immigration
- Migration and employment change
- Themes in regional economic development
- Land use and environmental change
- Public historical geography
- Historical military geography
Facilities & Features
You will benefit from web, email or phone access to many of our facilities and services. Our student website will be your one-stop shop for all news, information and links to other services, and 24/7 online access to the University Library’s vast electronic book, journal and database collections will help you find the right resources for your research.
We offer fully equipped physical geography, GIS and photogrammetry labs. We have a large number of analytical facilities including: Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICPMS), Multi-Collector Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (MC-ICPMS), Inductively-Coupled Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES), Excimer and solid-state laser ablation systems, X-Ray Fluroescence Spectrometer (XRF) and many more.
From the moment you join us, you will be supported by the University's Graduate School, alongside your assigned supervisory team. You will be invited to a two-day induction, helping you to get the most from our facilities and be part of our thriving research community. You can also extend your skills as a researcher through the Graduate School Development Programme, which offers training, workshops and events.
Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.
Supervising research students for PhD and MRes degrees is the most stimulating aspect of working at the University. What could be nicer than working with a group of intelligent, self-motivated and hard working people who are forever kicking around new ideas about evolution and the history of life on Earth.
David Martill, PhD Palaeobiology Supervisor
Careers & Opportunities
One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the comprehensive support we provide in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service - Purple Door - can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities.
The Graduate School Development Programme offers a series of dedicated workshops on career planning, specifically for research degree students. You will also have access to consultations with careers advisers or online support. This service is available for five years after graduation.
Doctoral graduates are highly-skilled researchers that make an impact in a range of sectors. They benefit from high employment rates and, on average, earn more than holders of undergraduate and Masters degrees. A doctorate demonstrates to employers that you are intelligent, capable and motivated, and that you have advanced technical and research skills.
In addition to supervision from experts in the field, you will be supported to become an internationally employable doctoral graduate. You will also develop skills that are desirable to employers including critical thinking, problem-solving, project management, communication, leadership and creativity.