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Research degrees
Research areas
Earth sciences
Climate change, past, present and future

Climate change, past, present and future

Environmental changes in Earth history can be used to help understand and predict the trajectory of future anthropogenically driven environmental change. The Palaeoenvironmental Change Research Group in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the OU are actively researching the course and drivers of changes in the Earth’s environment over its 4.5 billion-year history. The terrestrial and marine sedimentary record provides examples of climate change over different timescales and the opportunity to examine the Earth’s response over long timescales. Our research is frequently interdisciplinary and is underpinned by the latest methods and approaches in fieldwork and laboratory analysis.

Qualifications available

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Research degree Fees.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any geochemical, sedimentological, biotic or geochronological aspect of present-day or palaeoenvironmental change. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available will become available towards the end of the year.

Please also see further opportunities.

Current/recent research projects

  • Assessing the stratigraphic record and its utility for understanding the Earth system
  • The development and refinement of geological timescales using orbital chronologies
  • A multi-proxy isotope approach to reconstructing seawater oxygenation
  • Environmental change during the Early Jurassic – A North African perspective
  • 500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes
  • The impact of recent Ocean Acidification on bio-calcification
  • Response of Amazonian tropical forests to past changes in global climate
  • Ocean circulation patterns during the early/middle Eocene climatic warmth
  • Development of biogeochemical proxies and application over glacial-interglacial cycles
  • Unravelling the tectonic and climatic controls on Upper Jurassic mass flow deposits in NE Scotland
  • Late Pliocene stratification and productivity reconstructions: linking monsoon evolution and climate
  • Diversity and disparity at the dawn of fern evolution
  • Investigating the biotic responses to large-scale environmental change in Earth history.

Potential supervisors


Tropical forest

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Administrative Support
Phone: +44 (0)1908 332943