Postgraduate Training Opportunities

If you have enjoyed your undergraduate degree, you may feel that you would like to take your studies further. You may feel that you haven’t finished yet, that you have only just scratched the surface, or that you would like to know more. You may be thinking about pursuing a PhD or a career in Glaciology or Quaternary Science.

Masters’ Degrees

If the above statements apply to you, then you may want to consider a Masters’ Degree. There are several options. A Taught Masters (MSc) degree will usually involve a one year programme, with a series of modules and coursework, similar to your undergraduate degree. However, it will take place over 12 months with the summer term and summer holiday devoted to your dissertation, an independent research project.

Other universities may offer Masters’ by Research, which is usually a one-year research project, sometimes with a small taught component. It is like an extra-long dissertation.

PhD Research

Admittance to a PhD programme (usually 3 – 4 years in the UK) will usually require an MSc degree unless you are an exceptional student. In the UK, most PhDs in the field of Glaciology, Environmental Science or Quaternary Science are funded by the NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships. These PhDs come with a stipend to live on, tuition fees, and a small grant to support your research expenses. If you are interested in a PhD, I recommend you look at the NERC DTP website and look through the options available.

The application process for a PhD is usually competitive. You will need a strong academic record, including a good undergraduate and usually a good MSc or MRes degree. It will be helpful to have had some work experience, so ask around in your department and see if any of your lecturers can help. Can you act as a field assistant on a research field trip to existing PhD students perhaps? Trying to write up your MSc Dissertation as an academic paper will be helpful. Getting involved in blogging or science communication may also strengthen your case.

Joining academic societies, such as the Quaternary Research Association, Geologists’ Association and the British Society for Geomorphology will help highlight opportunities, build your network, and strengthen your professional knowledge and skills by providing field trips and conferences. Being a member of these societies will also strengthen your CV.

MSc in Quaternary Science

At Royal Holloway University of London, we deliver an MSc in Quaternary Science. I am heavily involved in teaching this course so naturally I recommend it whole heartedly!

Our MSc in Quaternary Science provides students with essential skills in using and understanding the time-dependent processes that affect environmental change. We provide technical training in key issues within Quaternary Science, including high-resolution palaeoenvironmental records, high-precision dating and multi-proxy approaches to the investigation of past environmental changes.

On completion of the course, graduates will have gained a thorough understanding of some of our most pressing environmental issues. Around 70% of our graduates go on to pursue further research.

Our graduates are highly employable and in recent years, have entered many different Quaternary-related sectors, including:

  • British Antarctic Survey
  • British Geological Survey
  • Archaeology
  • Historic England
  • Natural England
  • Environment Agency
  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Teaching
  • Museum curation

Our MSc Quaternary Science students undertake a 10 day field trip to Glen Roy in Easter

Royal Holloway University of London

Royal Holloway is widely recognised on the world stage as one of the UK’s leading teaching and research universities. One of the larger colleges of the University of London, we are strong across the sciences, social sciences and humanities. As a cosmopolitan university, with students from 130 different countries, we focus on the support and development of the individual. Our friendly and safe campus, west of central London, provides a unique environment for university study.

You would join a strong research culture as one of 130 postgraduate students within the Department of Geography.


Students are expected to have achieved a 2:1 in a relevant undergraduate degree. If your first degree result is close to this but does not quite meet this requirement, please contact us to discuss your case. Consideration will also be given to relevant professional experience and qualifications.

Please visit our website for the latest information about scholarships and fees.

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