Physical Geography

Key Information


MPhil: 1.5-3 years. PhD: 2-4 years


MPhil: 2-4 years. PhD: 3-8 years

Entry Requirements

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Brayford Pool

Start Dates in October and January

Programme Overview

Understanding the physical processes governing the earth surface and climate and how they are changing over time can help us plan for the future and react to global challenges facing the world, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Through independent research, supervisory meetings, and departmental seminars, conferences, and research workshops, this research programme provides the opportunity to conduct an in-depth research project in an area of physical geography, and aims to build key skills for positions in academia, research, spatial planning, and environmental consultancy and management.

The Department of Geography offers the opportunity to work at doctoral level alongside academics whose research has been internationally recognised. Students can benefit from the supportive academic community, where ideas and experiences are shared with the aim of advancing knowledge.

Lincoln's physical geographers are working on projects exploring soil science and geochemistry; quaternary environmental change; ecosys-tem and human health; flooding and climate change; GIS and earth observation; glaciology and climatology; fluvial and coastal geomorphology; and deltaic and estuarine river mouth systems.

Key Features

Conduct independent, original, and academically significant research

Benefit from training courses to develop key research skills

Supervision and support from academic staff

Present at talks and seminars to showcase your work

Enrol in January or October each year

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How You Study

Due to the nature of postgraduate research programmes, the majority of time is spent on independent study and research. In addition, students are expected to attend School, Department, and research group seminars and confercences, and engage in training opportunities in support of their studies provided by the Department, School, and the wider University.

Students will regularly meet with their academic supervisors, however, the frequency of this will vary depending on study mode, individual requirements, subject area, staff availability, and project progress.

Research Areas and Topics

The key to success on a postgraduate research programme is to find a research topic that you are passionate about and identify a supervisory team that has expertise in this area. The first thing that all prospective students should do is directly contact a member of staff from one of these areas that you feel is best aligned with your chosen research area to discuss the application process further.

Potential areas of work are aligned with the Department's current research strengths and specialisms and include (but are not limited to):

  • Biogeochemistry, ecosystems and human health
  • Fluvial/coastal flooding and climate change
  • GIS and earth observation and species distribution modelling
  • Ice sheet mass balance/glaciology and climate change
  • Morphodynamics of large rivers, coasts, and deltas
  • Quaternary environmental change.

You can also find out more about current student research projects.

Research Groups

How you are assessed

Students will be required to demonstrate adequate and appropriate progress on an annual basis. Most students are initially enrolled on an MPhil programme, and after the first year they may apply for transfer to a PhD programme via a written report on which they will be orally examined.

Both the MPhil and PhD are awarded based on the quality of a student's thesis and their ability to present and successfully defend their research in an oral examination (viva voce). Students are expected to demonstrate how their research findings have contributed to knowledge or developed existing theory or un-derstanding.

How to Apply

Postgraduate Research Application Support

Find out more about the application process for research degrees and what you'll need to complete on our How to Apply page, which also features contact details for dedicated support with your application.

How to Apply
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Research Proposal

Once you have identifed a research topic, you are invited to contact the supervisors that you feel are best suited to your research area to discuss the process further. We have wide areas of expertise in the Department spanning environmental health, fluvial and coastal process, biogeography, and climate change alongside social, political, cultural, historical, and economic geographies.

Applications should include a CV and a research proposal (not exceeding 3000 words, including references) with an indicative structure as follows: Names of proposed academic supervisors, aims and purpose of the research, overview of the academic literature relevant to your field, proposed methodology, and expected outcome/impact of your research. Upon positive evaluation of your proposal, you will be invited for an interview to discuss your personal/academics skills and your research project.


To support your experience within the postgraduate research community, new students are encouraged to enrol in October or January. In addition to meeting peers across the University who are starting their research programme at the same time, there is access to a central training programme designed around the first three months of study, and targeted support aligned to each stage of the postgraduate research journey. Alternative enrolment dates may be agreed with your supervisor and Programme Leader on an individual basis.

Entry Requirements 2024-25

Entry Requirements

First or second class honours degree in Geography or related discipline.

For direct PhD entry, applicants should possess a relevant Master's or MPhil degree in Geography or related discipline.

Overseas students will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each element. For information regarding other English language qualifications we accept, please visit the English Requirements page.

Programme Fees

You will need to have funding in place for your studies before you arrive at the University. Our fees vary depending on the course, mode of study, and whether you are a UK or international student. You can view the breakdown of fees for this programme below. Research students may be required to pay additional fees in addition to cover the cost of specialist resources, equipment and access to any specialist collections that may be required to support their research project. These will be informed by your research proposal and will be calculated on an individual basis.

Programme Fees

Funding Your Research

Loans and Studentships

Find out more about the optional available to support your postgraduate research, from Master's and Doctoral Loans, to research studentship opportunities. You can also find out more about how to pay your fees and access support from our helpful advisors.

Explore Funding Options
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Career Development

A doctoral qualification can be the capstone of academic achievement and often marks the beginning of a career in academia or research. A research programme provides the opportunity to become a true expert in your chosen field, while developing a range of valuable transferable skills that can support your career progression. A research-based degree is also the most direct pathway to an academic career. PhDs and research degrees are a great chance to expand your network and meet diverse people with similar interests, knowledge, and passion.

The University’s Doctoral School provides a focal point for Lincoln’s community of researchers, where ideas and experiences can be developed and shared across disciplines. It also offers support and training to help equip you for both academic and non-academic careers.

Doctoral School

Academic Contact

For more information about this course, please contact:

Dr Mark Schuerch

Research at Lincoln

Through our research, we are striving to change society for the better. Working with regional, national, and international partners, our academics are engaged in groundbreaking studies that are challenging the status quo. We also understand the importance of providing the best possible environment for pursuing research that can support our communities and make a tangible difference to the world around us.

Explore Our Research
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The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.