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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonPostgraduate study

PhD by Research (3 years)

Would you like to make an independent and transforming contribution to your chosen field? Are you are ambitious, highly motivated and able to study independently? From previous research or professional experience, do you have a particular question or topic already in mind? Are you already fairly familiar with research methods and practice?

If so, then our PhD by Research programme could be your next career step.

Introducing your degree

This is the course page for PhD by Research at the University of Southampton. Find out everything about by Research and what studying here involves.

In this course page we explain a range of key information about the course. This includes typical entry requirements, modules you can take and how assessment works. We also suggest career opportunities open to you as a University of Southampton graduate of PhD by Research.

If you still have questions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any enquiries. See our contact us page for our telephone, email and address information.

Doctoral study takes place in a stimulating research environment. We welcome applications from motivated individuals who wish to pursue an interest within the broad fields of education, leadership, inclusion and work-related learning that align with the interests and expertise of our staff. To get an idea of our wide range of academic expertise, please explore our Research pages, and those of the staff who work in them. You can also contact the Programme Tutor directly to discuss your ideas in more detail.

Our PhD programme is principally taught under expert individual/joint supervision. You will work with one or more supervisors who are themselves research-active members of staff with expertise in your area of interest. During your first year (two years for part-time students) you will also participate in our research training programme, delivered through a series of core and elective units.

After agreeing an appropriate development plan, you will meet regularly with your supervisor for academic support and supervision and to discuss your training and support needs. Your programme of activities will follow our recognised Research Training Programme to enhance and expand your skills in research methods and presentation and also to provide extra tutor and peer support. You will also participate in the research seminars and specialist workshops. You can find out more about supervision and progress here.

View the doctoral programme profile for this course

To Apply

You can apply through the University's online application form. Your application will be processed after you have supplied all the required information, including evidence of your qualifications and a research proposal.

Your research proposal should state the topic of your research, the research question(s) you are interesting in answering, and your reasons for undertaking this research (including some theoretical justification and review of relevant research that has been done in the field). You should include your initial ideas about the kinds of data you wish to collect and the proposed methods. The proposal should be referenced and provide evidence of prior reading around your topic of interest.

We may invite you for interview before making an offer. You can find more details here.


Postgraduate office, Email:, Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 4785

Programme tutor: Professor Toby Tyrrell

Fees and funding

Standard postgraduate fees for UK/EU and overseas students. Funding is available for this programme from the University of Southampton's Postgraduate Scholarship Fund. Ocean and Earth Science scholarships are also available.

Key Facts

Duration: up to 48 months (full time), up to 84 months (part time)

A pure research programme assessed by thesis; certain taught modules may be advisory for fuller background knowledge but do not form part of the final assessment

Application timetable is flexible; for internal funding, June is the final deadline for an October start

Photo of Michael Henehan
There is almost always a top-drawer expert on a specialist subject somewhere in the building that you can approach with your questions; it really feels like you are at a hub of cutting-edge research.
Michael HenehanPhD Geochemistry/Palaeoclimate

Our aims

We will provide you with the best possible education and training to succeed in your chosen area.

We will give you the skills and knowledge to operate at the cutting edge of research.

As one of Europe's leading centres of ocean and earth science, we can enable contact with other leading researchers through seminars, conferences and other activities.

We will prepare you realistically for future employment, and will inspire you with the motivation and ethos that lead to successful careers.

Typical entry requirements


You should have a good Masters degree (MRes or MSc) in a relevant subject from a British university or its equivalent in other countries, or (exceptionally) other relevant professional experience.

Several of our taught Master's degrees are designed around the needs of students transferring from other science, engineering or related disciplines. If you do not already hold a Masters degree, our integrated PhD may be more suitable.

International applicants

If you are an international student you also need to demonstrate an adequate level of English language proficiency. You will need to provide us with evidence that you have achieved an overall score of 6.5 or above on IELTS (or equivalent), with no individual score lower than 6.0. It may be possible for you to secure an offer of a place conditional upon achieving this proficiency if you do not have it already.

Selection process

Intake: Variable

Average applications per place: 8

Selection is mainly through evaluation of your online application. We may invite you for interview before making an offer.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Typical course content

During your first year (full time) you will participate in the Research Training Programme.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate research degrees vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

You will have opportunities for training in various research methods in ocean and Earth Science during your registration as a PhD student, plus access to our wide range of generic skills and specialist instructional workshops.

In your first year, you are actively encouraged to attend some of the taught Master's level classes.

You will need to demonstrate satisfactory progress at the end of each year. Your supervisor will complete an annual report that takes into account how you have progressed against your agreed targets, which include training and development activities.

Study locations

Waterfront Campus

NOCS (National Oceanography Centre Southampton)

Ocean and Earth Sciences is based at the world-renowed National Oceano...Find out more

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