MPhil/PhD Geography

Duration MPhil: Full time 2-3 years; Part time 4-5 years
PhD: Full time 3-4 years; Part time 6-7 years
Discipline
  • Geography
LocationCornwall (Penryn), Exeter (Streatham)
Start dateSeptember, January or April

Overview

Successfully completing an MPhil or PhD entails undertaking an in-depth study of a particular topic and making an original contribution to knowledge in the field. Our MPhil/PhD students are actively involved in work at the cutting edge of research across the School’s research activities.

Ranked 7th in the UK for research in Geography and Environmental Studies^ and 3rd for research power†, we offer a lively, thriving and innovative research environment. Our unique research studies culture provides an ideal setting in which to undertake an MPhil/PhD in Geography.

We welcome applications for MPhil/PhD study in human and physical geographies, and are particularly interested in projects that complement and extend existing strengths within and across our research groups.

Geography has a dynamic community of postdoctoral researchers and PhD research students funded by research councils, industry and charities; information about individuals’ research interests is available via our staff profile web pages. We have state-of-the-art research facilities and aim to create a stimulating environment in which to undertake an MPhil/PhD.

^Research Excellence Framework 2014 based on intensity-adjusted Grade Point Average and
†Times Higher Education research power ranking

As a researcher, the University has all facilities to help students and scientists. From the very beginning, I was encouraged to create ideas and do my own research work, which I believe is very important. Furthermore, staff are very willing to deliver advice and help whenever you need. There are very well equipped laboratory and computer facilities, and opportunities to present my work. All this, I believe, is very important for the success of a researcher.

Geography postgraduate research student, Streatham Campus.

Programme structure

The School of Geography undertakes a clear upgrading process at the end of the first year of postgraduate research study. The changing doctoral study environment in the UK dictates that PhD study be submitted and completed within a four year timeframe. We will provide hands-on support throughout the duration of PhD study, working with you to ensure you achieve your potential and graduate within the stipulated timeframe.

The normal study mode is full-time, however home/EU students may be able to study part-time. Visa regulations normally prevent international students from following this option, although it may be possible to undertake your research at a distance via split site study. This involves spending the majority of your time in your home country, although you will normally be expected to attend the University for limited periods and you will need to prove you have access to appropriate academic facilities locally such as libraries, labs, computers and desk space. Split site students are normally employed by, or registered with, a local institution, but receive support and supervision from staff at the University of Exeter.

Duration of study

PhD

The normal duration for a full-time PhD is three years full-time. This involves undertaking the research and writing the thesis. After the thesis is complete, some work may be required into the fourth year to prepare and undertake the viva (oral) examination and make any necessary amends to the thesis.

MPhil

The MPhil takes two to three years full-time to complete. Embarking on an MPhil and then progressing to a PhD does not increase the overall study period – you will still complete your thesis by the end of the third year of study.

Careers

No matter what your ambitions, aspirations or career choice may be there has never been a better, or more significant, time to study geography. Key global issues such as climate change, migration, environmental degradation and social cohesion are not only at the forefront of socio-political philosophies and attitudes, but are also deep-rooted within geography, making it one of the most relevant courses that you could choose to study.

You can be confident that a PhD from Geography at the University of Exeter will serve you well upon graduation. Our students graduate with a wide range of skills desirable to employers including data gathering, problem solving, project planning, report production, presentation skills and team work. Almost all research students have the opportunity to train to teach or teach, acquiring and practising additional transferable skills.

Opportunities on graduation are diverse and include work in academia, the voluntary sector, the public sector (eg, Environment Agency, councils), the private sector, and consultancy.

Research studies culture

Ranked 50th in the world for Geography, 7th in the UK for research^ and 3rd for research power† in Geography and Environmental Studies, and 4th in the UK for research in Earth and Environmental Sciences^ the University of Exeter offers a lively, thriving and innovative research environment in which to pursue postgraduate research studies.

A reputable and growing research community

The scale of graduate studies in Geography has grown significantly in recent years and the community now comprises around 80 PhD students across the two campuses in addition to academic and support staff. The community has a genuine presence within the School generating a thriving academic life and coordinating an active social scene.

A supportive and inclusive environment

We aim to ensure that undertaking a PhD in the School is a challenging and rewarding experience. You will study within a very supportive environment as part of a community of fellow research students, academics, and technical and administrative staff. You will have considerable opportunities for research training and skills development, including access to the University’s Researcher Development Programme, the ability to attend Masters lectures, or study Masters modules that would enable you to acquire particular skills relevant to a specific area of development.

Accessible and enthusiastic supervisors

The School adopts a dual supervision approach. Supervisors are easily accessible to postgraduate research students, with all students having regular timetabled slots with academics. In addition, academics strive to ensure a quick turn around to submissions and queries from students. We believe that the expertise and enthusiasm of supervisors sets the School apart from geography departments at other institutions.  

An active event schedule and career enhancement opportunities

Your experience as a research student will be enhanced by the variety of reading groups and programmes of seminars and lectures from visiting speakers. There is a weekly research seminar series that is attended by all postgraduate research students and academics, while an Early Career Researcher Network has also been established to support postdocs and finishing PhD students in their career development. This lively network features a series of monthly events over the course of the year, addressing subjects such as publications, grant writing and impact.  

Providing opportunities to teach

Almost all of our research students are involved in some form of teaching, with opportunities to train to teach and teach. We endeavour to find teaching opportunities that suit your needs, such as working closely with our academics to design specific exercises, or taking lectures, for example.

One culture, two campuses, different experiences

Opportunities for research study are available within Geography on both the Streatham Campus in Exeter and the Penryn Campus, Cornwall. Our postgraduate research ethos spans both campuses, however the distinct environment of each offers you different experiences of postgraduate research study depending on which campus you are based.

^Research Excellence Framework 2014 based on intensity-adjusted Grade Point Average

†Times Higher Education research power ranking

Entry requirements 2015

Normally students will have a good undergraduate Honours degree (UK Upper Second Class Honours or equivalent) and in some cases, a Masters degree. If you are seeking funding through one of the Research Councils (UK/EU students only), you will need to hold a minimum Upper Second Class Honours degree, although often these awards are won by those with First Class Honours due to high levels of competition.

As part of your application you will need to be able to prove that you have the research skills, vision and motivation to make your research project a success. Find out more about preparing a research proposal.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.

TOEFL IBT*

Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Cambridge English: Advanced & Proficiency

Overall score 176. No less than 169 in any section.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Research training

Training for all geography research students

We are committed to ensuring that all Geography research students receive tailored research training to suit their individual needs. Postgraduate research students are permitted to attend Masters lectures and there is a suite of Masters modules that would enable you to acquire particular skills that may be a specific area for development.

In addition, you will be encouraged to participate in the University's Researcher Development Programme. This offers training in a wide range of generic and transferable skills in key areas such as research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking, teamworking, and career management.

Training specific to human geographers

We are a recognised ESRC training outlet for Human Geography, which means that we can bid for studentships from the research council. As such, we offer a four-year PhD programme (1+3) where the first year of study provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake a three year PhD on successful completion. Should you progress to PhD, you will then be eligible to apply for open studentships. If you are interested in pursuing this route, find out more about our MRes Critical Human Geographies to which you must initially apply.

Training specific to physical geographers

We are also a recognised research training outlet for Physical Geography. As such, training is given to all Physical Geography research students in line with that approved by NERC and covering a range of topics including methodology, data collection and data analysis. We have been very successful in securing NERC funded studentships which currently last three and a half years.

Support and supervision

We are committed to providing you with an effective and appropriate level of support. Our research studies culture promotes an inclusive and supportive environment and accessible supervisors.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2015/16

Human Geography

  • UK/EU: £4,100 full-time; £2,050 part-time
  • International: £15,000 full-time

Tuition fees per year 2015/16

Physical Geography

  • UK/EU: £4,100 full-time; £2,050 part-time
  • International: £18,000 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Funding opportunities

Find out about current funding opportunities for Geography research programmes.

Contact us

You are very welcome to visit the department and talk to potential research supervisors and meet one of our current students. If you would like to do this please contact the Graduate Research Team with a selection of possible dates, your research interests, and any members of staff you would particularly like to meet.

We welcome enquiries about the course, for further information contact:

Email: pgr-cles-admissions@exeter.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 1392 723310

Programme structure

The School of Geography undertakes a clear upgrading process at the end of the first year of postgraduate research study. The changing doctoral study environment in the UK dictates that PhD study be submitted and completed within a four year timeframe. We will provide hands-on support throughout the duration of PhD study, working with you to ensure you achieve your potential and graduate within the stipulated timeframe.

The normal study mode is full-time, however home/EU students may be able to study part-time. Visa regulations normally prevent international students from following this option, although it may be possible to undertake your research at a distance via split site study. This involves spending the majority of your time in your home country, although you will normally be expected to attend the University for limited periods and you will need to prove you have access to appropriate academic facilities locally such as libraries, labs, computers and desk space. Split site students are normally employed by, or registered with, a local institution, but receive support and supervision from staff at the University of Exeter.

Duration of study

PhD

The normal duration for a full-time PhD is three years full-time. This involves undertaking the research and writing the thesis. After the thesis is complete, some work may be required into the fourth year to prepare and undertake the viva (oral) examination and make any necessary amends to the thesis.

MPhil

The MPhil takes two to three years full-time to complete. Embarking on an MPhil and then progressing to a PhD does not increase the overall study period – you will still complete your thesis by the end of the third year of study.

Research training

Training for all geography research students

We are committed to ensuring that all Geography research students receive tailored research training to suit their individual needs. Postgraduate research students are permitted to attend Masters lectures and there is a suite of Masters modules that would enable you to acquire particular skills that may be a specific area for development.

In addition, you will be encouraged to participate in the University's Researcher Development Programme. This offers training in a wide range of generic and transferable skills in key areas such as research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking, teamworking, and career management.

Training specific to human geographers

We are a recognised ESRC training outlet for Human Geography, which means that we can bid for studentships from the research council. As such, we offer a four-year PhD programme (1+3) where the first year of study provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake a three year PhD on successful completion. Should you progress to PhD, you will then be eligible to apply for open studentships. If you are interested in pursuing this route, find out more about our MRes Critical Human Geographies to which you must initially apply.

Training specific to physical geographers

We are also a recognised research training outlet for Physical Geography. As such, training is given to all Physical Geography research students in line with that approved by NERC and covering a range of topics including methodology, data collection and data analysis. We have been very successful in securing NERC funded studentships which currently last three and a half years.

Support and supervision

We are committed to providing you with an effective and appropriate level of support. Our research studies culture promotes an inclusive and supportive environment and accessible supervisors.

Research studies culture

Ranked 50th in the world for Geography, 7th in the UK for research^ and 3rd for research power† in Geography and Environmental Studies, and 4th in the UK for research in Earth and Environmental Sciences^ the University of Exeter offers a lively, thriving and innovative research environment in which to pursue postgraduate research studies.

A reputable and growing research community

The scale of graduate studies in Geography has grown significantly in recent years and the community now comprises around 80 PhD students across the two campuses in addition to academic and support staff. The community has a genuine presence within the School generating a thriving academic life and coordinating an active social scene.

A supportive and inclusive environment

We aim to ensure that undertaking a PhD in the School is a challenging and rewarding experience. You will study within a very supportive environment as part of a community of fellow research students, academics, and technical and administrative staff. You will have considerable opportunities for research training and skills development, including access to the University’s Researcher Development Programme, the ability to attend Masters lectures, or study Masters modules that would enable you to acquire particular skills relevant to a specific area of development.

Accessible and enthusiastic supervisors

The School adopts a dual supervision approach. Supervisors are easily accessible to postgraduate research students, with all students having regular timetabled slots with academics. In addition, academics strive to ensure a quick turn around to submissions and queries from students. We believe that the expertise and enthusiasm of supervisors sets the School apart from geography departments at other institutions.  

An active event schedule and career enhancement opportunities

Your experience as a research student will be enhanced by the variety of reading groups and programmes of seminars and lectures from visiting speakers. There is a weekly research seminar series that is attended by all postgraduate research students and academics, while an Early Career Researcher Network has also been established to support postdocs and finishing PhD students in their career development. This lively network features a series of monthly events over the course of the year, addressing subjects such as publications, grant writing and impact.  

Providing opportunities to teach

Almost all of our research students are involved in some form of teaching, with opportunities to train to teach and teach. We endeavour to find teaching opportunities that suit your needs, such as working closely with our academics to design specific exercises, or taking lectures, for example.

One culture, two campuses, different experiences

Opportunities for research study are available within Geography on both the Streatham Campus in Exeter and the Penryn Campus, Cornwall. Our postgraduate research ethos spans both campuses, however the distinct environment of each offers you different experiences of postgraduate research study depending on which campus you are based.

^Research Excellence Framework 2014 based on intensity-adjusted Grade Point Average

†Times Higher Education research power ranking

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