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Award details

University of Exeter funding: NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship

Magmas, fluids, faults and metals – re-assessing the controls on magmatic-hydrothermal W-Sn-Cu-As-Zn-Pb mineralisation and zonation associated with the Cornubian Batholith, SW England - Geology PhD studentship (NERC GW4+ DTP funded) Ref: 4023

About the award


Lead Supervisor

Dr Robin Shail, University of Exeter, Cambourne School of Mines.

Additional Supervisors

Professor Jamie Wilkinson, Natural History Museum.

Professor Dr Jens Andersen, University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines.

Location: Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, Falmouth, Cornwall.

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP).  The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus five Research Organisation partners:  British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,  the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.  The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see

For eligible successful applicants, the studentships comprises:

  • An stipend for 3.5 years (currently £15,285 p.a. for 2020-21) in line with UK Research and Innovation rates
  • Payment of university tuition fees;
  • A research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses;
  • A training budget of £3,250 for specialist training courses and expenses.
  • Up to £750 for travel and accomodation for compulsory cohort events.

Project details


SW England granites (Simons et al. 2016, 2017)



QEMSCAN image of polymetallic magmatic-hydrothermal mineralisation at Dolcoath Mine



Project Background:

The W-Sn-Cu-As-Zn-Pb ore field, centred upon the Early Permian Cornubian Batholith, is a global exemplar of magmatic-hydrothermal mineralisation associated with peraluminous granites and mineral zonation, where there is often a progressive change in dominant mineral assemblage with distance from the granite (W-Sn ± As proximal and Cu, Zn and Pb distal). Changes in source melting and differentiation control the broad distribution of granite types and metal prospectivity (Simons et al., 2017). But the heterogeneous distribution of metals and mineralisation styles around “emanative centres”, including the anomalous occurrence of substantial Cu with peraluminous granite, indicates a complex relationship between magmatism, separation of magmatic volatile phases, faulting and fluid mixing. The purpose of this project is to: (1) provide a state-of-the-art characterisation of the principal mineral parageneses and associated fluid types, and (2) evaluate the role of structurally controlled fluid migration and mixing on the distribution of these mineral assemblages and metals. The project is in collaboration with four CASE partners: Cornish Lithium, Cornwall Resources, Cornish Metals and Osprey Mining.

Project Aims and Methods:

The project is focussed upon the systematic analysis of melt and fluid inclusions in different granite types and mineralisation styles from across the SW England orefield. These will be used to determine: (1) the compositional variability of primary exsolved magmatic-hydrothermal fluids and their control by evolving melt compositions, and (2) the parameters controlling precipitation of ore metals from these solutions (e.g. cooling, phase separation, wall-rock reaction). Careful sample mineralogy and petrography, including SEM, QEMSCAN
and cathodoluminescence techniques, will underpin the fluid inclusion microanalysis using microthermometry and laser ablation ICP-MS. Isotopic analysis of minerals will be used to evaluate alternative models for the source and evolution of fluids. These data will be combined with the distribution of syn-magmatic fault systems and historical metal production, to provide a re-evaluation of the controls on mineralisation, mineral zonation and the origin of “emanative centres”. The project will utilise material from CASE partner drillcore and archive collections but will also include fieldwork in SW England.

Candidate requirements:

We are looking for a well-qualified and highly motivated Earth Sciences/Geology graduate who wishes to carry out a PhD in mineralogy/petrology and economic geology. Excellence in geochemistry and mineralogy are essential; experience of microanalytical techniques and statistical data evaluation are desirable.

CASE Partners:

The four CASE partners are actively involved in mineral exploration and development across Cornwall. They will provide the student with an unparalleled insight into contemporary mineral exploration and access to diamond drill cores for sampling and relevant assay and historical production data showing distribution of metals within fault-controlled vein systems (lodes).


The student will spend 80% of their time at the University of Exeter (UoE) where they will be based for their fieldwork and receive training in GIS / sample collection / preparation, transmitted / reflected microscopy, SEM / QEMSCAN (automated SEM), cathodluminescence, electron probe microanalysis and preliminary microthermometric evaluation of inclusion fluids. The student will spend 10% of their time at the NHM where they will receive training in laser ablation ICP-MS analysis of granite melt inclusions and inclusion fluids in granite-hosted magmatic quartz and inclusion fluids in representative hydrothermal vein parageneses.

Background reading and references:

Simons, B.J., Shail, R.K. & Andersen, J. 2016. The petrogenesis of the Early Permian Variscan granites of the Cornubian Batholith: Lower plate post-collisional peraluminous magmatism in the Rhenohercynian Zone of SW England. Lithos, 260, 76-94.
Simons, B.J., Andersen, J.C.Ø., Shail, R.K. & Jenner, F.E. 2017. Fractionation of Li, Be, Ga, Nb, Ta, In, Sn, Sb, W and Bi in the peraluminous Early Permian Variscan granites of the Cornubian Batholith: precursor processes to magmatic-hydrothermal mineralisation. Lithos, 278-281, 491-512.
Wilkinson, J.J., Stoffell, B., Wilkinson, C.C., Jeffries, T.E. & Appold, M.S. 2009. Anomalously metal-rich fluids form hydrothermal ore deposits. Science, 323, 764-767.

Useful links:

For information relating to the research project please contact the lead Supervisor via

Prospective applicants:

For information about the application process please contact the Admissions team via

Each research studentship project advertisement has an ‘Apply Now’ button linking to an application portal. Please note that applications received via other routes including a standard programme application route will not be considered for the studentship funding.


NERC GW4+ DTP studentships are open to UK and Irish nationals who, if successful in their applications, will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate.

A limited number of full studentships are also available to international students which are defined as EU (excluding Irish nationals), EEA, Swiss and all other non-UK nationals.  For further details please see the NERC GW4+ website.

Those not meeting the nationality and residency requirements to be treated as a ‘home’ student may apply for a limited number of full studentships for international students. Although international students are usually charged a higher tuition fee rate than ‘home’ students, those international students offered a NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership full studentship starting in 2021 will only be charged the ‘home’ tuition fee rate (which will be covered by the studentship). International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD. More information on this is available from the universities you are applying to (contact details are provided in the project description that you are interested in

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.


Entry requirements

Applicants should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.   Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have Master’s degree.  Applicants with a minimum of Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.

All applicants would need to meet our English language requirements by the start of the  project


How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.  Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”.

  • CV
  • Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project.
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim transcript if you are still studying.
  • If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current proficiency in English.

Reference information
You will be asked to name 2 referees as part of the application process, however we will not expect receipt of references until after the shortlisting stage. Your referees should not be from the prospective supervisory team.

If you are shortlisted for interview, please ensure that your two academic referees email their references to the, 7 days prior to the interview dates.  Please note that we will not be contacting referees to request references, you must arrange for them to be submitted to us by the deadline.

References should be submitted by your referees to us directly in the form of a letter. Referees must email their references to us from their institutional email accounts. We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided.

The closing date for applications is Friday 8 January 2021 2359 GMT .  Interviews will be held between 8th and 19th February 2021.  For more information about the NERC GW4+ DPT please visit

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email  Project-specific queries should be directed to the lead supervisor.

Data Sharing
During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.


Application deadline:8th January 2021
Value:£15,285 per annum for 2020-21
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Enquiries