The General Circulation of Earth and Planetary Atmospheres, Mathematics – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3306

About the award


Professor Geoffrey Vallis University of Exeter

Professor John Thuburn University of Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU/International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus Campus in Exeter.

This project will explore some of the general principles governing the circulation of planetary atmospheres, including the Earth, and will seek to determine the relationship of Earth's circulation to that of other planets and/or past climates on Earth. The project will focus on terrestrial planets, which are planets like Earth that have a well-defined atmosphere with a definite lower boundary.

The student will explore how the circulation depends on the fundamental parameters of the planet, such as the planetary rotation rate and the atmospheric mass and composition. In particular we will seek to understand if and how Earth's atmosphere is connected to other planetary atmospheres, and so put it in a more general context. Is the Earth's atmosphere a very special case, or is it really rather ordinary, or generic? What makes a planet habitable? The project will involve a combination of numerical modelling and theory, using a flexible model of planetary atmospheres that can be configured to almost any planet in conjunction with basic geophysical fluid dynamics theory. The student will choose the precise direction of the project, in consultation with the supervisor, and it may be more Earth based or planet-based, and may make connections to global warming and to paleo-climate.

The successful student will join the Centre for Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics which is part of the Department of Mathematics. This group has a number of other PhD opportunities, and applications to multiple posts is welcomed.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2019 or earlier. This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU/International tuition fees  plus at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 
If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Research proposal
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 21st January 2019.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus the week commencing 11th February 2019.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor Geoffrey Vallis at


Application deadline:21st January 2019
Value:£14,777 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150