PhD Physical Geography / Programme details

Year of entry: 2023

Programme description

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Geography at The University of Manchester

PhD Physical Geography will allow you to benefit from the supervision of world-leading academics that have very strong reputations for research quality.

The University of Manchester is one of the best places in the world to study physical geography, and our department has a global reputation for its research and teaching.

Our physical geography staff members hold editorial positions with leading research publications, including major journals such as Journal of the Geological Society, Geoarchaeology, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, and Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

They also routinely serve on various review panels of the UK Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC). There are two research groups specialising in physical geography:

The work of the Environmental Processes research group includes the analysis of environmental processes at a range of spatial scales and geographical locations, but particularly in upland and urban environments.

Fundamental and applied research is supported by the UK Research Councils and EU H2020, as well as a range of government and non-government agencies, including Defra, UKCIP, Environment Agency, Natural England and Moors for the Future.

The Quaternary Environments and Geoarchaeology research group is particularly interested in the analysis of the response of geomorphological systems and ecosystems to global climate change.

This includes the study of glaciers, rivers, lakes, deserts and high mountain terrains, as well as paleoecology, geochemistry and a range of geochronological applications.

This research involves work throughout the world, including the Arctic, British Isles, Mediterranean, Himalayas, North America, and Africa.

Research is funded by various bodies, including the Leverhulme Trust, NERC, the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society.

Explore our research groups to find out more about the specialisms available at Manchester, and the academics who are keen to supervise in each area.

In addition, some of our physical geographers with interests in GIS and mapping are also part of the Mapping: Culture and Geographical Information Science  research group, which spans geographical sub-disciplines.

You can find out more about our academic staff and their research specialisms on our People page .

Recent PhD graduates have been appointed to positions at leading universities around the world, while others now work in government agencies and research institutes as well as conservation organisations.

Many graduates have gone on to work in environmental consultancy in both the public and private sectors.

Special features

Geography has been studied at Manchester for more than 125 years, and we're one of Europe's best-equipped universities for the subject.

We're also home to world-class academics and the Manchester Urban Institute (MUI) .

Our researchers are investigating the complexities of the world's physical landscape, past and present, to help create solutions to global environmental problems.

Research Physical Geography at Manchester and you'll benefit from worldwide fieldwork opportunities and strong industry links.

The School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) is a unique interdisciplinary collaboration between the disciplines of Architecture, Education, Geography, International Development and Planning and Environmental Management.

What unites us is a shared commitment to highlight and address the uneven relationships between societies, economies and the environment.

We want to understand better the world in which we live, and to offer solutions to the problems within it.

We acknowledge that a complex and interconnected world presents many challenges for analysts, but researchers in SEED are pioneering new evidence, measures, concepts and theories in order to address these challenges in practice.

SEED's world-leading research is rooted in everyday life but international in relevance and scope, addressing social, economic and environmental concerns across the globe.

Our PhD and professional doctorate research community, grouped around a range of dynamic centres and themes, is central to the SEED research agenda across all our disciplines.

Teaching and learning

When you become a postgraduate researcher, you'll join a diverse and vibrant community of doctoral students from nearly 100 different countries, all studying within the Faculty of Humanities.

You'll be assigned to a specific research grouping that complements your research interests and have access to a variety of interdisciplinary research institutes.

Our working environments are often spacious and open plan, giving you plenty of opportunities to communicate with colleagues and staff within the School, and you will have your own desk space as well as access to our fantastic range of libraries on campus.

All our academic supervisors are research active and will support you to work on challenging research problems and develop rigorous, creative and original research.

You can expect to meet with your supervisor at least once a month to discuss progress on your project.

As a postgraduate researcher, you'll have access to a large and diverse community of internationally recognised academic experts offering an environment that will stimulate intellectual debate and development. We provide additional financial support for several activities related to your PhD, including:

  • presenting at international conferences;
  • attending workshops that provide relevant professional opportunities;
  • conducting fieldwork in the UK and overseas.

Important notice

The School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) aim to run advertised fieldwork in the 22/23 academic year and we very much hope that students will be able to enjoy the fieldwork experience in the usual way. The ability of fieldwork to proceed, and whether any changes to proposed fieldwork might be necessary, will remain subject to the current global situation and factors such as the:

  • rules and guidance on travel and activities implemented and published by the UK and overseas governments;
  • outcome of any risk assessments conducted by the University;
  • educational value and student experience of the fieldwork, if significant changes to the proposed fieldwork would be necessary;
  • availability of appropriate insurance cover;
  • availability of appropriate travel and accommodation and any significant changes to their financial costs.

We will therefore assess on a regular basis the viability of any travel and fieldwork and communicate any decisions to our students at the earliest possible opportunity.

Any fieldwork that does go ahead will be subject to a rigorous risk assessment process and the implementation of any protective measures identified by the risk assessment to ensure the health and safety of all our students and staff.

If the fieldwork does not go ahead as planned, then the School's focus will be on seeking to offer a suitable alternative and ensure that the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of the programme are met.

What our students say

Discover what it's really like to conduct postgraduate research at The University of Manchester on our student spotlights page.

Facilities

We are one of Europe's best-equipped universities for geography, with numerous laboratories.

These include the main teaching laboratory, microscopy laboratory, and sediments and project laboratories.

You can also learn professional skills such as coding and programming specialist, industry-standard software such as image processing, GIS, GPS and cartographic representation.

The University's Main Library is the largest university library system in the UK apart from the copyright libraries and has several different working spaces.

It is home to the University Map Collection, which comprises about 100,000 map sheets of every part of the world.

For more information, please see our Facilities website .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service.

For more information, email  dass@manchester.ac.uk