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Department of Geography


PhDs in Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute

PhDs in Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute

The Department has a large community of around 80 PhD students working on their own projects. The PhD students at Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) study a broad range of topics that reflect the diverse interests of the academic staff in the Department.

Additional project information for: Physical Geography/Environmental Science PhD opportunities.

1. Before making an application

Before applying, you should satisfy yourself that advanced study in your chosen research topic can be supervised by an academic at Geography or SPRI. Acceptance of any applicant will be dependent on specialist supervision being available. Unfortunately, if we cannot supervise your topic, we will decline your application regardless of its academic merit. Please check the research groups then look through the online staff list.

Identification of a potential supervisor does not imply a guarantee of admission and the full admissions procedure must be followed in all cases. If your potential supervisor's details are available from our website, you may e-mail the person with a draft research proposal (maximum 2,000 words). If contact details are not available, kindly e-mail the Graduate Office Administrator with your research proposal and the name(s) of whom you are trying to contact.

2. Go to the University's Graduate Admissions Prospectus

Go to the University's Graduate Admissions Office Prospectus for Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) which has all the information you need to make a formal application. Applicants should plan well in advance to ensure their papers can be processed in time. The deadline for all PhD applicants is March 31st 2020.

Cambridge Funding Competitions deadline: 7th January 2020.
Applications must be made in advance of this date to be considered for funding, please note this deadline is earlier than the final admissions deadline and some Gates Cambridge Scholarship funding applications are even earlier than this. Please also note this deadline includes submission of all your references which must have been submitted by your referees in advance of this funding deadline.

When making the formal application PhD applicants will need to provide a statement (maximum 2,000 words) detailing your research proposal, including aims and methods, sources and the location of the proposed research. Your proposal should include a list of specific resource needs for your research such as travel budget, fieldwork, laboratory equipment, chemical and IT needs. Please state in your application which academic in the Department your believe has interests that are closest to your own and therefore might supervise your research. It is advisable to approach the Academic identified in advance to discuss your proposal.

Physical Geography applicants choosing from the list of topics do not need to include a research proposal but should include information about why you have chosen a topic and the relevant experience you have for the chosen topic.

3. Funding

Doctoral work in the Department is funded through Research Council funding (ESRC, AHRC and NERC), studentships from Cambridge Trusts, the Gates Foundation and other funding agencies. While the Geography Department has modest funds for fieldwork or conference attendance, it does not fund PhD studentships.

Fee and application information for all courses run by the department is to be found on the University's Graduate Courses Directory.

  • All fieldwork, laboratory work, access to data, archives and travel needs to be supported for the length of your study. You should ensure that you have sufficient funds or that your funding body provides sufficient support.
  • Overseas applicants should look at the scholarships available at Cambridge. The major scholarships available at Cambridge are Gates Foundation, scholarships administered by the Cambridge Trust, and the Cambridge International Scholarship (CISS). You should apply for these by the advertised deadline when you complete your formal application. Information can be found and eligibility can be checked via in the University's Graduate Studies Prospectus and via the University's Graduate funding information page.
  • UK and EU students should look at the Research Council studentships and funding available via The Cambridge Trust. The Isaac Newton Trust supports Masters programmes. Information is available on the University's Graduate funding information page.

It is advisable to complete a Funding Search to help you find the most suitable funding options from those listed above.