Rated second in the UK and 17th in the world for the impact of our research, the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York offers an outstanding, dynamic and multidisciplinary environment in which to carry out PhD research. Our current PhD students come from many countries around the world and are funded via research councils, charities, industry, government grants, and private resources.
To find a PhD supervisor you can search for people with expertise in a particular area using our find a supervisor tool or you can access individuals’ research interests via our staff profiles. We particularly welcome applications that connect with our research themes and groups.
Prospective students are encouraged to contact potential supervisors early on. They will be happy to give you advice on the feasibility of your research ideas and offer feedback on a draft proposal. For each academic year, we also offer a number of funded studentships to exceptional applicants. Please see the funding section and vacancies section for more information.
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), a leading global environmental policy institute, has one of its largest centres embedded within the Department of Environment and Geography. This unique arrangement allows postgraduate researchers to gain a research degree from the department, whilst simultaneously benefiting from SEI’s strong links to global policy makers such as UNEP and the World Health Organisation, and international connections with other SEI centres in Stockholm, Boston, Bangkok, Dar es Salaam and Oxford.
We offer the following research options (please also see our )
The Department of Environment and Geography also offers an MSc by Research degree, where students follow an approved programme of research supervised by a member of academic staff. The thesis is assessed solely on the basis of that research by two individually appointed examiners. An MSc by Research normally takes 1 year to complete.
The PhD is a higher degree awarded for a thesis presenting original research that makes a publishable contribution to knowledge or understanding. A student will be working on their own research project, working closely with their academic supervisor and with the support of other postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and staff in their research group.
MPhil/PhD in Human Geography and Environment
The research in this programme is concentrated in the following key areas:
- Energy geographies including: international development; public and stakeholder attitudes towards supply, demand, and energy system change; environmental and social justice issues
- Perceptions of environmental and socio-technical risk issues
- Environmental, economic and social costs of enhanced transport systems
- Sustainable agri-food systems, including understanding current or changed behaviours that may affect the sustainability of consumption and production systems in the future
- Interaction of social, economic and political processes across urban contexts
MPhil/PhD in Environmental Geography
Research in this programme is focussed on:
- Tropical ecosystem response to environmental change
- Reconstructing Quaternary environments and sea levels
- Managing consequences of climate change
- Glaciology and characterising glacial terrain
- Ecosystem modelling
- Soil systems and biogeochemical cycles
- Environmental change and sustainable societies
MPhil/PhD in Environmental Science
Research in this programme is focussed on:
- Prediction of water quality from catchment characteristics
- Pollution effects upon soil/plant/water ecosystems
- Evaluation of critical loads and levels of pollutants
- Modelling of atmospheric chemistry processes
- Biogeochemical cycling and sustainability
- Indoor and outdoor exposure to air pollution
- Environmental impacts of volcanoes
- Pathways and impacts of agricultural pollutants
MPhil/PhD in Environmental Economics and Environmental Management
The MPhil and PhD programmes in Environmental Economics and Environmental Management offer interdisciplinary research across economic and ecological sciences, concentrated in the following key areas:
- Economics of the environment
- Ecology and environmental management, with emphasis on marine systems, tropical and temperate forest systems, and agro-ecosystems
- The nature and impacts of environmental pollution
- Sustainable use of terrestrial, marine and freshwater resources
- Economic growth and environmental health outcomes
- Environmental health, migration and socio-economic change
The PhD requires a dissertation of up to 80,000 words, to be submitted by full-time students after a period of three years' study (or six years for part-time students), with a further maximum of one year allowable for writing up.
The MPhil is a research degree in its own right, and requires a dissertation of up to 60,000 words to be submitted by full-time students after a period of two years' study (by part-time students after four years).
Before applying to one of our postgraduate degrees, you are encouraged to peruse our faculty profiles, research interests and list of current PhD projects to identify the areas you are most interested and specific members of staff with whom you would like to work. Please feel free to contact any potential supervisors directly before making your application.
To apply for admission as a graduate student (PhD, MPhil or MSc by research) you will need to complete the online application form. Although applications are accepted at any stage of the year, you are encouraged to apply in January/February of the year in which you wish to gain admission if you are seeking a Research Council-funded place. Overseas candidates should apply as early as possible before the start of the academic year in which they wish to gain admission. You should also be aware of any deadlines for other funding for which you may be applying.
Please also remember to check our list of current vacancies where PhD opportunities are advertised througout the year as they become available.
For all applications please remember to include:
If you do not have all the necessary documentation, for example you may be waiting for your degree certificate, you can still submit your application and then upload further documents later.
The Environment Department and the University of York offer several studentships to support research leading to a PhD. Your nationality and residency will determine your specific eligibility. Please see the funding section for more information.
We prefer applicants to MPhil/PhD programme to have a relevant Masters degree. Those without should consider first taking one of the Department’s taught MScs, a pass in any of which would satisfy minimum entry requirements.
Applicants whose first language is not English will need to ensure that they meet the University’s minimum language requirements, which are
Pre-sessional English language programmes
Applicants may already have an IELTS result of 6.0 but require 6.5 overall, or have met the overall language requirement but not one of the skill components (where these are specified, eg Writing 6.0 or 6.5). The International Pathway College (IPC) offers a range of pre-sessional courses that you can apply for. These language courses take place in the summer before the start of taught programmes for students who need to improve their English slightly before admission. Please apply early to avoid disappointment.
Please see the University’s English language requirements pages for more information.
As a research student in the Department of Environment and Geography, you can expect